Admit fans for free, says Quique Sanchez Flores

Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores does not understand why English football is so expensive and wants fans to be able to watch the game for free.

Admit fans for free, says Quique Sanchez Flores

The cost of a Premier League ticket has come under scrutiny this week after Liverpool supporters staged a protest during their game against Sunderland.

Liverpool have subsequently frozen match and season ticket prices for next season while Fenway Sports Group, the club’s owners, issued an apology to their supporters in an open letter on Wednesday.

While Watford are yet to reveal their pricing structure beyond this term — their most expensive ticket for their next league match against Bournemouth is £42 (€53:60) — Flores wishes supporters across the land did not have to pay a single penny.

“I want to say that I would like the fans to pay as little as possible,” Flores, whose Watford side head to Crystal Palace tomorrow, said.

“It is an amazing love that the fans feel for their team but unfortunately football is not cheap, it is expensive.

“Sometimes the situation of the families is not so good, so if you are talking with me about what I think, I would like them to go for free, and if not free, cheap.”

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew believes club owners risk undermining the Premier League’s future if they continue to increase ticket prices.

There is a belief that the atmosphere at many top-flight clubs has declined in recent terms as a consequence of the traditional supporter struggling to afford the prices asked and missing out to corporate seating or tourists.

And, given Selhurst Park is one of the few stadiums to retain the type of atmosphere that appeals, Pardew has spoken of the importance of those fans.

“The owners of the football clubs, not so much the chief executives — the chief execs have to run football clubs and look at the bottom line — but the owners of Premier League clubs – and we have a lot of foreign owners — need to really consider carefully that they don’t lose the core supporters that we have,” he said.

“Because if they think it’s just the product on the pitch that makes the Premier League what is it, it isn’t. It’s the atmosphere. It’s the drive from those core supporters that makes the atmosphere and the game unfold the way it does.

“You won’t have those dramatic finishes, those edgy games, those really conflictual games that we have without them, so if they are (priced out), and they are the main ones driving (the atmosphere)...

“You don’t see too many lawyers or doctors in the corporate areas moaning too much, and they get the best service in the world, trust me. I go around the world, so our corporate fan has nothing to worry about in my opinion, but I do think that the core fan, when he’s making this kind of message, we need to listen.”

The Football Supporters’ Federation believes Liverpool fans’ successful walkout protest is a “game-changer” for the game.

“It is obviously a significant success for the Liverpool supporters’ groups, Spion Kop 1906 and Spirit of Shankly, who organised the protest and managed to get a huge amount of support,” FSF chairman Malcolm Clarke said.

“We would congratulate them on that and recognise that the owners have listened and at least put a freeze on what they were doing.

“It is rare for the owners to do it but they have done it because of a supporter protest of that magnitude where a larger proportion of supporters walked.

“It is something I am sure both owners and other supporters’ groups would have noticed.

“In some ways it has been a bit of a game-changer but the next big milestone is to see what Premier League clubs do at their meeting next month.

“Last time they got a majority for some kind of package but it was not the two-thirds needed so we would hope in the light of the Liverpool situation they will deliver something meaningful.”

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