English soccer club Liverpool FC has been criticized recently for withdrawing a ticket scheme that helped loyal soccer fans obtain Liverpool FC tickets. The Priority Ticket Scheme (PTS) is set to be withdrawn following poor responses from its 10,000 members.
PTS members have now been forced to join the much larger official membership “Belong” scheme, currently numbering 50,000, which will mean less access to tickets. “Belong” is open to anybody, unlike the PTS membership, which was capped at 10,000 around five years ago. Liverpool FC’s explanation for closing the Priority Ticket Scheme was that PTS members were enjoying an unfair degree of access to Premier League tickets. A total of 5,000 tickets were offered for each game to the PTS, providing a one in two chance of actually obtaining one. According to Liverpool FC, over 25 percent of people who were PTS members bought zero tickets last season, and about 50 percent of the PTS members attended less than three games.
Ian Ayre, Commercial Director of Liverpool FC, authored the letter sent to members of the PTS, informing them of its closure. Part of the letter read:
“The Club believes the time has come to combine the PTS and the general membership into one scheme, and offer a ticketing benefit to all members. This means that the PTS in its current format will cease to exist and all PTS members will be incorporated into the Official Membership Scheme.”
Paul Jones, a Liverpool Fanzone correspondent for The Times Online, said withdrawing the scheme was “yet another kick in the teeth for those 5,000 fans that have been going to [Liverpool’s stadium] week in week out for the past few years, who’ll now have around a 1 in 10 chance of a ticket for a home game next season. A lot just won’t bother.”
Jones has a point, but other Liverpool supporters have pointed out that the PTS was effectively a closed shop, with its 10,000 membership closed to new applications for about 5 years. The PTS cost its members ₤59 per year, while “Belong” costs its members ₤29 per year. Moving the PTS into the official membership scheme will free up more tickets to more fans, but the probability of obtaining one is diminished for ex-PTS members. The debate rages on and somewhere among the egalitarian quagmire lies a solution. In a passionate soccer city like Liverpool, it is probably a good thing to have more tickets available to the greater number of people, despite the select few in the PTS having to go without.