Liverpool Football Club’s decision to restrict audio access to Wednesday night’s Champions League tie against Spartak Moscow to their official website is a real kick in the teeth to supporters. It is a decision that reeks and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know where the smell originates from.
Although the club will provide free access to their own commentary via the offal, it will still mean that many pensioners, for example, will be unable to follow their beloved Liverpool despite their decades of support. Supporters on the move or at work will also be affected.
It is estimated that more than a million people that would have relied on the radio coverage, and I would argue that would be higher when you consider the alternative methods that fans outside the UK use to also tap into broadcasts that are only intended for UK reception. I have no idea if the BBC World Service would have covered this game as I haven’t relied on their service for many years thanks to the number of games that are televised these days. While having a nosey of the BBC World Service website though, I did stumble on an article about a Manchester United supporter called Shahbaz Taseer who was seized by gunmen in Lahore in August 2011 and held captive. He says the BBC’s commentaries helped keep him ‘living’ and his story, albeit extreme, proves how far the BBC and our beautiful game reaches. That article is worth a read.
Growing up as a kid, I would often tune into the BBC to listen to the Reds. Be it on 5 Live or the World Service when overseas on family holidays, their coverage was a lifeline. Non-commercialised, unbiased and professional commentary, something that the Liverpool FC website and other broadcasters can not boast. Even today, despite all the ways of watching the Reds live, many fans still opt to listen to games on the radio, some have no choice but to. I even know of fans who mute the audio from the TV and listen to 5 Live’s audio, so good is their coverage.
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But times have changed and there’s nothing wrong with introducing new methods. What is wrong though, is closing down one possible way of allowing our supporters to follow the games.
It’s not just about someone hunched over a wireless sat at a kitchen table. Various radio broadcasts are of course also made available via satellite and then there’s those who have to drive for a living or who are forced to commute when games are taking place can tune in while in the car or on public transport. Yes, some people tune in via apps so you could argue that they could listen via the internet and the club’s website, but not everyone has unlimited data and coverage can be hit-and-miss. There are multiple reasons why this kind of forced access is wrong.
I have seen a handful of supporters on social media saying “So what!” in response to the decision and “It’s available for free via the club’s website so I’ll be listening to the game that way!” Two examples of the modern-day, ‘it’s only about me’, football supporter who couldn’t give a shit about anyone else but themselves and who clearly think that ‘YNWA’ is nothing more than a slogan. Well, I can listen to the game, I can watch the game, I can even attend the game, but I still care about those who cannot. All I can think about is the pensioner who doesn’t have internet access or a smartphone and the men and women on the move or at work. Fortunately, social media also shows that the majority of fans are thinking like me and actually still care about their fellow supporters.
Yes, the game is being offered free by the club but as I understand it, it is available only by forced registration. Even if we ignore the many neutrals that won’t want to register for access, think of all those LFC fans who will have no choice but to visit the website. Visits = money and your data. Advertising, betting revenues, merchandise sales etc. That’s all this is about. But more importantly, there is no better time for the club to gather all those new email addresses ahead of the various email campaigns that they will run as we approach Christmas.
With regards your details, the club states that they ‘… would like to use them to send relevant news, offers and promotions from ourselves and occasionally on behalf of our official sponsors and partners,’ although you can of course opt-out.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the club doing all it can to maximise revenues but when it comes to freezing out die-hard Liverpool supporters purely in the interests of what appears to be nothing more than greed, well it’s a reminder of just exactly how our club is now run and where FSG’s priorities are. Well, Merry ****ing Christmas to you John and Merry ****ing Christmas to you too Tom.
I’ve previously touched on Liverpool FC CEO Peter Moore in my editorials. As you will know, I have often praised him for his helpful interaction with fans. On the other hand, I have also highlighted his need to retweet select complaints from fans that can result in them being slaughtered by others. Fortunately, that underhand tactic appears to have now stopped and that has resulted in me seeing nothing other than positives coming from him in recent weeks. However, I can’t but help think that all his positive, feel-good stuff he’s been tweeting about recently has been undone by the club’s decision. Having seen messages sent to him since the news broke, it’s pretty obvious that he must have turned off notifications last night as the fans are certainly not happy.
“Liverpool Football Club needs to show that it cares, and we need to put a brighter light on that a little bit,” – Peter Moore, Liverpool FC CEO, 15.09.17
BBC Radio 5 Live may have opted to cover other games in the previous rounds so far but that’s because they were obviously bigger fixtures but fans could tune in to alternative broadcasts. From what I understand, audio coverage of the Spartak fixture will only be available via the club’s website. If I am wrong, please correct me.
I feel for those supporters who will now be unable to follow the match live because of this decision. I also feel for the families of those fans who can’t see past their own selfish needs who don’t see a problem with this, as they’ll no doubt receive some pretty shitty Christmas presents from them later this month.
Make your money FSG but don’t shut out our loyal fans, especially those who stood on the Kop for decades but are no longer able to. There’s more to claiming to care about the Liverpool FC community and fan base than smiling for the cameras when dropping off a few bags of shopping at the local food bank.
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