Liverpool exit poll holds key to Jurgen Klopp’s concern over fans leaving Anfield early
Fans that leave Anfield early are not necessarily getting off in protest
Jürgen Klopp is unlikely to notice membership of Anfield’s early leaving club has declined whether Liverpool are winning or losing against Bordeaux on Thursday night.
The German coach noted an affliction affecting all Premier League grounds at the end of Liverpool’s last home fixture against Crystal Palace, fans heading to the exit with ten minutes to play.
Klopp is under the misapprehension that the premature rush for the gates reflects a lack of confidence in his side, a point he emphasised when Liverpool defeated Manchester City on Saturday. “It is our responsibility to keep them in their seat,” the manager said.
In reality, he is being too hard on his players. Rather than a statement on the team, the main reason so many are quick to get out before the final whistle is the difficulties 45,000 spectators have leaving a congested area. It is no reflection on form, and was as noticeable in seated sections of Anfield during the club’s heyday in the Seventies and Eighties.
Klopp’s comments, though, are timelier than he might imagine. They come as the club are embarking on their second fans’ survey in two years to assess travel habits as Liverpool finalise their transport plan before the opening of their new Main Stand next season.
Mott MacDonald, a management, engineering and development consultancy, will have representatives at both the Bordeaux game and the Swansea City fixture on Sunday, quizzing fans and updating data they have been assembling as part of the Anfield rebuild. If Klopp wants a better understanding of why some fans are on the edge of their seat in preparation for an exit instead of a thrilling climax, he need only read the most recent transport study which highlighted the high proportion of fans who travel by car and the lack of parking near the ground.
“Within the Premier League, there are not many stadiums which are ‘planted’ within a built-up residential area,” read Mott MacDonald’s last Transport Strategy document for Liverpool’s Main Stand Expansion, published in 2014. They identified the crux of an historic problem, one which the club argues needs a cultural shift in supporters’ travel habits.
The survey demonstrated the number of vehicles descending on the Anfield area do not tally with parking spaces available and put plans in place for designated drop off/pick up points outside the ground for buses and taxis. Incredibly, they would be the first of their kind since Anfield was built. Earlier road closures from next season will also ease congestion in the busiest areas near the ground.
For weekday Anfield fixtures, an estimated 11,000 cars descend on Anfield – that’s 1 in 4 supporters driving. The estimates suggest a rise to nearer 14,000 when the stadium capacity has risen to 53,800 at the start of next season. Despite this, there will be just 2,201 parking spaces provided by the club, with a further 73 spaces for disabled users close to the stadium. Half will be allocated to hospitality guests, who will take most seats in the corporate expansion of Anfield.
Independent car parks charging extortionate prices have flourished in recent years, but there will be efforts to close them.
The message could not be clearer. If you’re heading to Anfield from next season, ditch the car – or at the very least park as far from the stadium as possible.
“We will aim to reduce the number of cars used by people travelling to and from the stadium which will help minimise the impact of matchday traffic on Anfield’s residents,” a club spokesman told Telegraph Sport. “We will also actively encourage the use of public transport by supporters, through providing designated drop-off and pick-up points close to the stadium for matchday buses and taxis.”
The Transfer Strategy document highlights how this can be implemented.
“The club is not proposing to construct any new car parks, or provide any parking for general admission ticket holders. Importantly, the parking stock will be better managed, with stricter access control,” it says.
“Essentially, by supressing supply to not meet demand, once the capacity is utilised (on a first come first served basis) supporters will be required to review their choice of travel.”