Fans plot mass walkout

LONDON. — Football fans in England are considering a mass walkout in protest at rising English Premier League ticket prices, the Daily Telegraph reported yesterday.

An estimated 10 000 Liverpool supporters left Anfield in the 77th minute of Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland in protest over plans to introduce a most expensive match ticket of £77 ($112).

The Football Supporters Federation (FSF), which represents fans in England and Wales, said it would convene a meeting to discuss coordinated action, including a simultaneous fan walkout at top-flight fixtures.

“The FSF will be convening a meeting of representatives of supporters’ organisations across the Premier League to discuss the next steps in the campaign,” FSF chief executive Kevin Miles told the Telegraph.

“There are a number of options. The Liverpool walkout very successfully highlighted the whole issue of the affordability of football and the clubs need to be made to listen.”

Supporters in England are angry that ticket prices are rising at a time when Premier League clubs stand to receive a windfall of around £8 billion from new television rights deals.

Liverpool cancelled plans to hold a question-and-answer session for fans with chief executive Ian Ayre on Monday, but the club said they would revisit the matter.

The club’s manager, Jurgen Klopp, said that “everyone in the club has a big interest in finding a solution for this”.

Liverpool great Jamie Carragher joined in with the walkout at Anfield on Saturday and was pictured on social media posing with a fan outside the ground.

Meanwhile, former Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer used his role on the BBC’s flagship “Match of the Day” highlights programme to condemn clubs for raising prices.

Meanwhile, the English Premier League unveiled its new, sponsor-free “visual identity” yesterday, which will take effect from the 2016-17 season onwards.

The money-spinning English top flight is ending its 12-year association with Barclays bank in favour of becoming a “clean brand” and will from now on be known simply as “the Premier League”.

The new logo — a crowned lion’s head gazing to the right, accompanied by either the words “Premier League” or “PL” — will replace the current logo of a lion with its left paw on a football.

“From next season we will move away from title sponsorship and the competition will be known as the Premier League, a decision which provided the opportunity to consider how we wanted to present ourselves as an organisation and competition,” said Premier League managing director Richard Masters in a press release.

“We are very pleased with the outcome: a visual identity which is relevant, modern and flexible that will help us celebrate everyone that makes the Premier League.

“We look forward to sharing more details of our new positioning in the coming months.”

Canadian brewery Carling was the Premier League’s first title sponsor between 1993 and 2001.

Barclaycard, an offshoot of British bank Barclays, took over in 2001 before Barclays itself took up the reins three years later.

Barclays paid £120 million in 2012 for its most recent three-year contract.

By dropping its title sponsor, the Premier League is bringing itself in line with major American sporting competitions such as the NFL and NBA.

The English Premier League is the most lucrative football championship in the world, with 17 of its clubs featuring in the top 30 of financial consultants Deloitte’s most recent football rich list.

The coming year will see its wealth swell yet further, with a new domestic television rights deal worth £5.14 billion due to kick in at the start of the 2016-17 season. The forthcoming sale of overseas TV rights for the period 2016-2019 is expected to add around a further £3 billion to the pot. — AFP.

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