Red Sox Fans More About Business Than Loyalty?

Aug 2, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Liverpool supporters cheer after their team wins defeated AC Milan 2-0 in an international friendly at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Liverpool supporters cheer after their team wins defeated AC Milan 2-0 in an international friendly at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

In the wake of Liverpool FC having fans leave a game early, on mass, to protest ticket prices, some wonder why the Boston Red Sox fans don’t do the same.

Chris Beesley of connected the walk-out across the pond at Anfield, the home of Liverpool FC, to the fans of their club-brother, the Boston Red Sox. “Liverpool’s historic supporters walk-out might have struck a chord with their American owners but it has barely caused a ripple across the Atlantic with fans of Fenway Sports Group other team.”

The FSG owners of both clubs apologized to Liverpool supporters “after approximately 10,000 of them left Saturday’s home game with Sunderland in the 77th minute in protest over the cost to watch their side after plans to introduce a £77 ticket were revealed.”

The two sports teams are very similar in almost every other capacity other than this walk-out.

You think founding the Red Sox in 1901 is historic? Try 1892, the year that Liverpool was founded, making it one of the oldest and most historic professional sports franchises in the world.

You think having the rivalry with the New York Yankees is as old as time? Try watching a match between Liverpool and their cross-town rival Everton FC, which was founded in 1878. If you visit the city of Liverpool, England and a group of men ask you if you’re red or blue, you better hope that you pick the same color as those guys.

Expect a beat-down if you don’t. And, if you say you support Manchester United, don’t make any plans on returning home, either.

Liverpool supporters see themselves more than just fans of the team; they see themselves as members of the club, like a family. Hence why, instead of singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ like in Fenway Park, the supporters sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. Bostonians pride themselves on how much the Red Sox mean to their heritage, just like their counterparts at Anfield.

With how much both clubs mean to their respective supporters, one would think that Bostonians would react the same way as Liverpool fans did when they felt betrayed by a raise in ticket prices. To the people in England, the team’s business should never interfere with their passion.

However, Beesley spoke with a familiar face to Red Sox Nation, Pete Abraham, who had this to say: “There’s nothing really to compare this to in terms of the Red Sox. There have been some times when the fans have been upset over various things but nothing like what happened with Liverpool.” As to why that’s been the case, Abraham added, “The tickets in baseball are still affordable because there are so many games.”

Abraham also provided the reason why prices rise up in Boston: “The Red Sox have a very small park compared to many teams so their prices are higher but they’ve been higher for a long time […] They still do very well with attendances and there’s certainly not a fall off numbers wise.”

Honestly, Abraham’s words are true because of the cultures in both countries are so different.

There are die-hard supporters for both clubs who would give their left-arm for season tickets. However, as much as there are footy matches from August all the way to the later part of spring, they are held on a weekly basis. Much like American football, Liverpool FC home matches can be guaranteed to be full because families have only so many to go to and have a week to prepare themselves. With baseball happening almost every day and the American culture being perfectly happy sitting at home to watch sporting events, ticket prices are raised to cover the cost of games not being sold out.

Covering the cost of baseball players, compared to European football players, is not the same thing, either.

Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the most recognized soccer player in the world makes $52.6 million every season, not counting his $27 million in endorsements. In the English Premier League, which hosts Liverpool FC, the average salary for a soccer player is £3.13 million, which equates to $4.5 million. The average baseball player, as of April of 2015, made $4 million, with the highest paid player being starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw getting over $32.6 million for one season.

Those figures might lead one to think that they are pretty similar, except for the fact that soccer teams play more than just their league matches.

The teams are also put into other tournaments, like the UEFA Champions League, where “if a English team were to win Champions League in 2016 they can pocket in the region of €100 million from prize money and market pool only.” The prize money for the wins is progressive, meaning that you win more money the longer that you stay in the tournament, but you are guaranteed money if you qualify for the proceedings. That means the clubs have great incentive to make their players happy for playing all of these matches throughout the year, which often takes the form of financial compensation.

Do you see the Red Sox playing in Cuba or Japan for a Champions League tournament of baseball?

Television rights, ticket sales, and merchandise are pretty much the only avenues of revenue that the Red Sox and other MLB teams have to cover the costs of players making nearly the same money as soccer players. While the baseball players are popular in North America and in a few other countries, they are unknown entities around the world compared to the soccer brethren, meaning that player endorsement deals and other financial compensations are harder to come by.

This cultural difference may be why nobody in Fenway groups together like betrayed family members at Thanksgiving and leaves the dinner table. Americans know that this is how the economy works in the United States, while the English may be clinging to the past, where players from their hometowns used to be the team itself. Some soccer players still do, but most are not even imported from the same country, let alone the same town. The same could be said for baseball players, but it’s been a long time since that was an issue for anyone in Boston. Maybe in the times of Carlton Fisk was it even mentioned in the last 70 years.