I am writing this to you as an open letter as opposed to a letter of complaint. An open letter is the way of getting your disgust over these days. Besides, what’s the point of writing a letter to you when you’ll treat it with the same contempt as you do appeals from clubs who have been wronged by your army of hopeless, unaccountable officials? No, this is more than a letter of complaint, this is a letter of despair and agony regarding a showpiece event that you are slowly but surely killing for the fans.
My gripes can be separated into just a few points, each as distasteful as the next.
The way you have treated Liverpool fans ahead of the FA Cup Final is disgraceful. Before anyone starts playing the “victim” card again, this could apply to any club that happens to have the cheek and arrogance to live north of Watford Gap.
Firstly, because of you changing the historic and traditional kick off time off 3pm to the much later and soulless 5:15pm, there are no trains home for the Liverpool fans. Unless they want to miss most of the match, of course. Coupled with engineering works and a bank holiday weekend, getting a train from London to Liverpool could take until as late as Tuesday. You were warned about this by the club when discussing the kick off time, but as usual, you were too arrogant to pay attention. You simply ploughed on ahead, knowing what you were doing.
Either that, or you just don’t care. Whether you like it or not, you have a duty of care to the fans of both teams to ensure they can conveniently get to and from the match. Rail works happen, it’s a fact of life and is instrumental in why I drive everywhere. But that option is simply not available to all fans. This could have been Manchester United fans, or Everton fans that this happened to. But no, you have to go ahead with a 5:15pm kick off, destroying one of the great cup traditions.
I’m lucky. I got a cup final ticket as I have been to every cup game this season. I deserve a ticket, in fact. But the only reason I got a ticket was because I am a season ticket holder. If I was a normal member, I would have had to have entered a ballot like so, so many people that I know who have also been to every cup game this season and should also get a ticket.
“Speak to your club about the way you organised the distribution of tickets” you’ll say. No, I won’t. I believe that Liverpool dealt with a very difficult situation in the best way that they could. Most people I know got tickets in the ballot but some missed out and that’s wrong. No, Liverpool did their best. With a paltry allocation of 25,500 (approximately) tickets, the club had their hands tied. Assuming that allocation has gone on to Chelsea, that means 51,000 seats are accounted for. Wembley holds around 90,000 tickets. Playing the numbers game (to prove I’m not Rick Parry, I also have a decent tie collection) that means there are about 39,000 tickets missing for the game.
With the parasitical Club Wembley scheme hoovering up a fair chunk of said tickets, this begs the question – how many have gone to “neutrals.” I am well aware that each participant of the FA Cup is sent a certain number of tickets for the final. I am fairly sure that this doesn’t add up to an allocation of 25,500 each for the finalists. Considering there were 31,5000 tickets available for each semi finalist, it’s fair to say that something doesn’t add up. Again, no questions will be answered and you will hide behind a veil of secrecy, but those allocations are pathetic, unfair and unjust to both Liverpool and Chelsea.
This is the price of success, I understand that. Here were the allocation details: 0 per cent of the adult tickets are priced at £115; 46 per cent are priced at £85; 28 per cent are priced at £65 and 16 per cent are priced at £45. To make just 16% of those tickets the lower price is an exercise in pocket lining. Most of the allocation is a princely sum of £85. To you and your corporate fat cat mentality, that’s not very much. To the ordinary fan, that’s a lot of money in hard economic times when season tickets are only going up and wages aren’t as the economy returns to recession.
It seems to me and to many that the FA Cup is no longer about the prestige of winning sport’s ultimate knock out competition but about how quickly the FA can line their pockets. We all know that’s why the semi finals are held there. It’s not about “the Wembley experience” for semi finalists or about this that and the other, it’s to ensure you continue to recoup the costs for the stadium being built.
I’m a hypocrite, because if I was truly a man of my principles I’d tell you to shove your FA Cup final sideways and watch it down the Dog and Duck with a drink. But I have been there against Oldham, Manchester United, Brighton, Stoke (a blasphemy on the eyes so bad worthy of a final appearance alone) and Everton. I deserve to go and my disdain with the way you have watered down your “showpiece event” won’t stop me enjoying myself.
But going forward, you have screwed Liverpool fans with the kick off time. You have screwed both sets of fans with the ticket pricing and you have screwed both sets of fans with the ticket allocation. So many questions to be asked, so few answers forthcoming.
Hang your head in shame.
Live4Liverpool is recruiting columnists. For further info contact the site editor at email@example.com