Atmosphere at Premier League grounds destroyed by ticket prices - Dortmund fan
The atmosphere at Premier League grounds has been destroyed by astronomical ticket prices, according to one of the organisers of the tennis ball protest which disrupted Borussia Dortmund's cup clash at Stuttgart.
Dortmund supporter Marc Quambusch, spokesman for the campaign group Kein Zwanni (No to 20 euros), said leading English grounds have become little more than tourist destinations and branded Liverpool's decision to introduce a £77 match ticket next season as "ridiculous".
"We are not talking about a once in a lifetime concert because Michael Jackson has come back to Earth, we are talking about an average football match," Quambusch told Press Association Sport.
Thousands of fans headed for the Anfield exits in the 77th minute of Saturday's 2-2 draw with Sunderland in protest at the £77 it will cost for the most expensive match ticket next season.
And Quambusch believes the cost of following football in England has already rendered the atmosphere at top-flight clubs, once the envy of German fans, "dead".
He said: "When you look at England - and I love English football and I have many friends in England - but when you watch English football and the quietness in the stadium, you should say, 'OK, that's not what we want in Germany'.
"I've been to different matches, Arsenal, Nottingham, Liverpool also... In years gone by we in Germany looked to English football and said, 'Oh that's great, that's what we want, this is the biggest atmosphere in Europe', and now it's completely dead to be honest.
"When you look in English stadiums especially, so many tourists from abroad are flying to Manchester, to London and going to Arsenal or United matches and haven't any connection to the club they support. They're just customers.
"But as a football club you also need fans, you need people who say, 'OK, now my club is ruined or we have been relegated, but I love this club'.
"You can't run a business only with tourists. The English Premier League isn't an English Premier League, you could also say it's just an international Premier League, because there are not so many English players on the pitch, not so many English fans in the stadium. They could play it in China."
Quambusch wants the actions of the Liverpool fans to inspire similar protests at other clubs in England.
"We are not talking about watching football for £2 for the best seat in the stadium, but we're talking about a fair price" he said. "The problem is that so many fans think, 'We have to pay the players fairly', and we are talking about £400,000 a week. Maybe that's fair, maybe it's a little bit more than fair."
Dortmund fans' innovative protest at Stuttgart's Mercedes-Benz Arena saw the DFB-Pokal clash briefly halted when away fans, who had boycotted the first 20 minutes of the match, enter the stadium to throw numerous tennis balls on to the pitch in protest over the hosts' ticket prices.
A quarter of the tickets for away fans for the quarter-final, which Dortmund won 3-1, were priced at more than 70 euros (£54), with almost 40 per cent costing more than 60 euros (£46).
The tennis balls served a dual purpose.
Quambusch explained there is a saying in German - 'great tennis' - to describe something very good.
"This was an ironic way to say your ticket prices are very good," he said.
"Also we want to say we don't want to have a tennis audience in football stadiums. Nothing against tennis - great sport - but we don't want a tennis atmosphere in football stadiums."
The Bundesliga is renowned among fans in England as an inexpensive place to watch football, with many making day trips from England to Dortmund's Westfalenstadion or Hertha Berlin's Olympiastadion, but Quambusch says the idea tickets are cheap is not altogether correct.
"It's right when it comes to standing tickets," he said. "It used to be cheap also for the seats - it isn't any more.
"And when fans, especially from Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund, are travelling away we get charged a completely different rate that's really high."