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Losing Supporters

By Chris Butler :  17/12/2009 :  Comments (19) :
Over the last 2 years I’ve noticed how many people have lost interest in watching football at GP. No longer do you see groups of males going the match together. Nowadays you’re lucky if you see a group of 3.

Now there are many reasons for this. As we go into tonight’s game, where we’ll be lucky to get 25,000, many people have talked about finances but have forgotten where our main income comes from: our supporters. Speaking to friends who have also said that they know quite a few people that have given up. For tonight’s game, we should have dramatically dropped prices to get a decent attendance.

The reasons why fans are losing interest in going to the match include the increasing amount of televised games or changed kick offs, such as Monday night games or games on a Sunday. For fans that do not have cars and rely on public transport it’s awkward.

Ticket pricing also has an effect on attendance. Everton’s cheapest ticket for a Premier League fixture is £29 which fans are unwilling to pay to watch a game against Bolton on a Monday night.

The recession has also hit football supporters and football clubs hard. Phil Hammond mentioned that it’s very hard to get tickets for games in all-seated Premier League stadiums, I’ve researched this: except the top 4 Spurs and newly promoted teams, most clubs hardly ever sell out bar big games.

Many people have made comparisons between us and Spurs. First of all, Spurs have a wealthier support than us. Spurs have a smaller ground than us. Spurs have more categoried fixtures such that fans need to attend other fixtures to have any hope of getting tickets for bigger fixtures. Spurs have a train station next to their ground which helps people who do not have a car or cannot park their car around the ground.

Another reason I believe Everton have trouble selling tickets is that Liverpool is the poorest place after Glasgow in Britain. The gap between the average man in the street and the multi-millionaires is also leading supporters to dislike the players.

One of the main reasons I believe many youngsters are losing interest in watching or playing football is there are so many other leisure activities they can do, unlike the decades before. I remember having 4 channels on the TV, no games console, so I had to find something else to do.

Many people can catch up on football by recording matches and just pay £2 a year and subscribe to a foreign channel. If we have nobody to buy tickets or buy merchandise in the future we’ll struggle. Dads can no longer afford to take their sons to watch football.

It's also becoming a social problem in Liverpool — many white working class lads have nothing to be proud of in their life; in the old days, football brought happiness to people's lives, making them forget their troubles a giving them a source of pride and hope. There is a saying in Argentina “football is theatre for the working class”.

Being in a residential area, there is no parking near the stadium for supporters — you have to walk quite a large distance. The parking is also very expensive considering how far away you are from the stadium.

Our corporate facilities include a tent in the middle of a car park — very appealing to them. If you are not fortunate enough to sit in our Director’s Box, you are rewarded with an obstructed view.

The ways I think Everton can gain fans are in my opinion. Have places all across the city where you can purchase tickets. I find that going all the way to Walton to purchase tickets is hard work for most people. The way the club handled the FA Cup semi-final tickets was appalling, people having to wait 4 or 5 hours for tickets — where else does that happen?

People are unwilling to part with their hard earned money to sit in an uncomfortable seat with no leg room; that’s why I prefer to stand. I think the introduction of a standing area would greatly improve attendances.

Another idea is for special family tickets so going to the match with your child or children is affordable that would attract a next generation of supporter. I think changes are needed.

Reader Comments

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James I'Anson
1   Posted 18/12/2009 at 08:34:35

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Some very good points Chris. Until we get a new owner and new board nothing will change. The current regime haven’t got the nouse or will to do anything about anything.
Paul Gladwell
2   Posted 18/12/2009 at 08:26:29

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Some spot on points Chris. We have around fifteen close mates, plus enough to fill a coach during big games (Liege, Benfica away) in the pub we bevy; however, there where only three of us there last night.

I have gradually watched our home game crowd dwindle in our gang and the season tickets numbers too. The main reason they say is simple, they say its too costly yet spend the day watching the game in the pub spending more on ale and whatever, so is it money, the foreign channel, or just the boring football?

This was what I could not get when peolpe were shouting for KIrkby, it would have encouraged far more of this type of blue certainly on our side (Wirral) with the transport problems it would have created, as many I know don't leave sometimes until half-an-hour to kick-off and still get in on time.

It does just appear that many fans have had enough of being fleeced and watching dire negative garbage every week and can you blame them? And that is why I think kenwright was breathing a sly sigh of relief with the Kirkby decision, as dreams of 47,000 crowds full of corporate boxes to break even were comical to say the least.

Chris Briddon
3   Posted 18/12/2009 at 10:13:21

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It's an interesting theory — but surely the stats don’t back it up, as our average attendance has been fairly constant over the last few years, even given the changing kick off times and days as a result of TV and Europe.

I know there weren’t many last night but that was partly cos Everton announced their team in advance to warn people that we were playing the kids.

I think EFC deserve a lot of credit for this, as a lot of clubs would have kept it quiet to sell more tickets.
Nick Entwistle
4   Posted 18/12/2009 at 11:33:54

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Surely main income is from TV no?

And didn’t that King Kev person say football for northerners is the same as southerners going to the theatre? Begs the question, what is the northern equivelent of southerners going to the football?
Trevor Williams
5   Posted 18/12/2009 at 12:18:52

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I think its either pigeon racing or Greyhound Racing
Tony Williams
6   Posted 18/12/2009 at 12:04:51

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A few decent points but you cannot take last nights game into consideration. We knew beforehand it would be the youth team out there and it was on telly. As Chris said, I believe EFC deserve a good deal of credit for that.

Also though, as Chris says, the stats don’t back up your theories; yes, last night's game was only 18,000 but, if it had been an away game that still meant nothing, we would have sold out our allocation and then some.

In all the years I have been going, only one of our group has dropped out and that is purely due to his financial restraints due to getting married and having a kid.

Attendance is steady and has been for years now and also this year saw a record turnover for season tickets again.

I keep going no matter what, I can’t help it, no matter who disillusioned I get with the state of the clubs finances, come April I am there keying in my credit card details to renew my season ticket and sometimes, like last year and out two trips to Wembley, it almost seems worth it.
Jay Harris
7   Posted 18/12/2009 at 13:07:11

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Chris some good points there but unfortunately Gate receipts are no longer a clubs main income.

TV income is more than double gate receipts in EFC’s case.

Having watched EFC for over 50 years and now having a palatial view in the Park end I reflected on what a lot of people are complaining about and have to say things are very differen now.

Supporters now have far more options of what to spend their leisure pound on but for some including myself following EFC is a religion.

For those who complain about restricted views and old facilities I have to say standing like sardines in a packed ground where you were lucky if you were tall enough to see over other people’s heads and the toilets actually stank from 15 yards away was a far worse matchgoing experience than anything fans have to put up with these days and yet the experience was more enjoyable because of the REAL passion in the supporters which as you rightly point out is being ground out of current fans by the continously cynical desire for money.
Chris Butler
8   Posted 18/12/2009 at 13:19:45

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In a way, yes, but selling games to Sky is extremely risky as it puts people off going. But to Chris Briddon, most fans go to odd games now. I mean so many people have told me similar stories that they ask mates to go and are met with the response, "What's the point?"

I think we should make football affordable for a father or mother to take their child to the game. Introduction of a restaurant orfan centre where fans can congregate before the game would be good. Maybe this is just me but I’d like a standing area or for better seats to be introduced.

Chris Butler
9   Posted 18/12/2009 at 14:41:37

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You have to think "What's enjoyable?" — I mean for the games against clubs outside of the top four, nobody seems to want to go to those games. Does anyone know any other coach company that are running trips to Sunderland by the way?
Ian Tunstead
10   Posted 18/12/2009 at 17:41:47

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Il tell you why i wont be going again if its on TV at the same time;

I never normaly buy food or drink from the ground as i cant be bothered farting around trying to get past people and being a pain in the arse to everyone else having to move for me. The prices and the standard of food are also not very attractive to me.

As the ground wasnt so busy and because the weather was so cold, for a change i decided to go inside at half time and get a warm, i thought i might aswell get myself a hot dog and a soup while im down there.

The service was poor and people were bunking infront of me. I didnt mind too much as i am quite a patient person, but I thought to myself by the time i get served there will be no hot dogs or soup left. Any way i finally get to the front of the que ordering and paying for my food.

By this stage i had already missed the first 10 mins of the 2nd half. Then the guy says sorry no soup do you want hot chocolate, i said no not realy, il just have the hot dog, eventualy the supervisor gets me a refund. I wasnt too dissapointed i could still look forward to a foot long hot dog. I opend my tomato sauce sachet only to be told sorry no more hot dogs while 2 young girls turned up at that moment and bought the last 2 even though i had been there nearly half an hour!

Is quite laughable but at the same time i was absolutley fumeing! All that waiting and the supervisor didnt look like she could care a less. I thought to myself here they have myself who is stupid enough to wait half an hour and pay £3.70 for a crappy hot dog and £2 for a soup and they run out of both! They are loosing out on making money off fools like me for Everton.

Next time il be sat at home in the warmth of my own home with my own hot dogs and soup with out having to que and put up with people pushing in front and poor service.
Andy Crooks
11   Posted 18/12/2009 at 19:01:41

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Ian, your post should be passed on to the marketing department. I’ve been in the same position and, frankly, it’s about time supporters were treated with less contempt.
Brian Conrad
12   Posted 18/12/2009 at 22:18:40

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Ian, my last home game was v Man utd seated in the Alex Young suite seats; 5 mins before half-time I went down to get pies for myself and 3 mates. I was the only one at the counter, there were only 3 pies and 2 sausage rolls in the cabinet... only to be told these items had been ordered and there were no other pies or savoury items left.

I still don't know if this was just very poor planning on behalf of the catering staff or a ploy to get supporters to buy a full meal in the Alex Young suite. One of the lads we were with bought a Mars bar and put a sachet of brown sauce on it to simulate a pie (Man Utd supporter)!

All-in-all, the catering at GP is shite; we were all regulars at the match but none of us go any more. I took my wife and son to Wigan for the match last season, the football was shite but the pies were great and they never ran out, ever.

Karl Masters
13   Posted 18/12/2009 at 22:39:33

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From my experience don’t bother at half time. Just get stuff before the game.

I once missed twenty minutes of the second half getting my daughter a hot dog at a game at home to Watford in 2006. They even ran out of onions and mustard leaving her with a roll and a sausage as she hates ketchup.

Dire. And even a new stadium will never solve the attitude of the staff as they are all outsourced.
James I'Anson
14   Posted 19/12/2009 at 11:30:09

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You would think after 131 years of selling hot dogs and pies they would be pretty good at it. Obviously not.
Kunal Desai
15   Posted 19/12/2009 at 13:55:19

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It’s like any product bought or service provided, if the customer is not getting value for money or the service provided is not of satisfactory level then the customer doesn’t come again. Simple.
Neil Smith
16   Posted 19/12/2009 at 19:54:01

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I packed in my season ticket two years ago after 33 years. It broke my heart as at the time I hadn't missed a match at Goodison in any competition in over 20 years. Including Simod Cup and Screen Sport games.

In 2002, I bought my then 8-year-old son his first season ticket, and it cost me just over £400 for the two at the time. By 2007, that price had practically doubled. I decided then with a heavy heart that enough was enough.

I felt I was being ripped off all over the place by the club. Not just season tickets. Kick-off times being all over the place, players who didn't show the commitment and, to be quite frank, the standard of football at the club, not just Everton, but elsewhere in the Prem is dire.

Since packing it in, ok, I missed out on Wembley last year, but I have the comfort of knowing I was there when we were the best in the land, and I've seen us win the league... twice. I feel for the genuine younger loyal fans of now who haven't got a prayer of ever seeing us win the league. The best they can hope for is the occasional cup run and beating the Reds.

I have been to a handful of games in the last couple of years, and haven't regretted my decision to pack it in. I never miss the Blues on the tv, or internet, and I am still an Evertonian through and through, but my support is on a new level now, and that level is not as a match-going fan.

I speak to fans of my age (40), who do still go every week, and I know they don't enjoy it anymore. They complain of a lack of atmosphere, and of the quality of the football. I know some of them will pack it in, in time. The club is struggling to attract younger fans because there is little there to attract them to.

My rant is over now. Three wins on the bounce against Birmingham, Sunderland and Burnley will get our season back on track, and I will be routing for them as much as anyone.

Happy Christmas to Evertonians everywhere.

Ged Simpson
17   Posted 20/12/2009 at 12:13:04

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I agree with some points Chris but think the problem is deeper than that.

The younsters today want to be associated with the most glamorous or rich. They want to live through the lives of the overpaid as the prospect for them is at best employment in a call centre.

So look at Goodison and EFC. Old stadium, no glamour, no "stars" just old fashioned club relying on team work and discipline.

Thise are the things that many young people find absolutely alien.

Still.....the rest of us who are getting on a bit can pop along and have a moan down memory lane.

Chris Butler
18   Posted 20/12/2009 at 18:09:16

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Watching Everton is enough for you to turn to drink. What is attractive about freezing your arse off in a horrible seat, all the traffic after the game... it's boring. The way the team are playing is frustrating me. I'd jump from the Top Balcony to tell fucking Kenwright and Bill to sort it out. Why should we be crushed like sardines every game?

The seats are no good for most people as, for a sell-out its uncomfortable. Lower Bullens should be a made a no-go area to the public, we have wooden seats for pity's sake. There are posts everywhere yet we’re still charging a lot of money for fans to get in.

I have few better things to do with my time I’ll admit but even I’m thinking of giving up. We never sold out at Goodison once last year. They're just taking advatage of our loyalty... or stupidity as some would call it.

Mike Hayes
19   Posted 20/12/2009 at 19:04:30

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Just to add to this. When I can attend home games, which is rare due to work commitments and cost, my two boys like to wait in all weathers (as today, freezing) to get the players' signatures and have their photos taken with them as well. I join in but just the photo of the player on their own. Most come out at the car park near Bullens/Park End.

Arteta usually stops but of late whizzes past signing about two-three before racing off; Yakubu does the same now. Now a few of the others are starting to avoid coming this way out choosing instead a back route to get away from the fans.

Yes, some fans have been a little abusive, kids mainly mouthing it off... making what they believe are witty remarks, which may or may not add to the reason behind the players not bothering.

The newer and younger players are doing the same, and to be honest its unfair on us that wait for two hours to see them and get photos/signatures. If they have had enough of this then have the guts to say so and let us go home if they can’t be arsed anymore, after all we are nobodies who just pay £28+ to watch them play.

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