Fond farewell to young men in red, jeers for organizer

Early bird gets the worm, we all have been taught. But nobody has said anything about the fact that the worm can get jawdroppingly expensive. Many Thai fans of Liverpool and Manchester United have learned the lesson the hard way.

First it was Pimrypie. Several days ago, the celebrity online seller somehow managed to get her hands on 20,000 tickets and offered to sell them at substantial discounts. Those who had bought tickets at original prices cried foul and viewed her and the game’s organizer with deep suspicion. But more insult to injury was about to come.

Many early birds flew to the Rajamangala Stadium on Monday to watch training sessions of the two teams, who arrived in Bangkok over the weekend for an unprecedented “Red War” exhibition game Tuesday evening. To the ticket-holders’ dismay, they found out that leftover tickets were being offered for half price. This was even cheaper than Pimrypie’stickets and there was a lot left.

“Two riots happened at Rajamangala on Monday,” said a sports commentator Tuesday morning. “One involved people scrambling to buy tickets and the other involved furious fans who already had bought their tickets,” the man said. Some of his colleagues at the giant sports radio channel, FM 99 Active, attempted to defend the organizer’s move and further rubbed it in.

Among their argument: “It was like buying a pack of cooked food at a supermarket. Before the closing time, the price comes down naturally.” Well, that can be a fine comparison but for the fact that the quality of cooked food can drop over time, but the Liverpool-Manchester United game did not even start.

There is a similar argument of defenders of the organizer. “When you buy the latest-model car, you pay a higher interest rate than if you wait a few months or a few years.” Truth is that the former will be able to show off and drive proudly on the street, but the original ticket buyers will feel like covering up what they bought or risk being dubbed naïve or gullible. Boasting rights went out the window in the latter case.

A saleswoman poses with tickets for sale at half price outside Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok on July 11, 2022, a day before an exhibition football match between English Premier League teams Manchester United and Liverpool FC. (Photo by Nhac Nguyen / AFP)

Make no mistake, business “betrayals” take place all the time. Among the most outrageous can be when you are fed up when your telecom service provider and tell them you want to switch. Likely, they will call you back and offer a discounted service, which loyal customers will never get.

Put yourself in the loyal telecom customers’ shoes and you will get the idea. The discounted service is totally legal, like the new prices for the Liverpool-Manchester United tickets, but it can hurt so bad.

Tickets for the game initially ranged from several thousand baht to way more than 20,000 baht (People paid a lot less to watch late Michael Jackson’s concerts). The most expensive ones were not a problem, apparently because rich fans scooped it up really quickly and they didn’t care much if the prices will go down in the future. The outcry has come from middle-class or poor fans who had to save up for their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Mohamed Salah and Bruno Fernandes in the flesh. (A lot had wanted to watch Cristiano Ronaldo too but he bailed in the last minute, citing family reasons. This can be another argument for the latest discount.)

One thing is certain: Anger will be directed at anyone but the players. Such is the degree of admiration and worship. This is one of football’s most famous quotes, uttered by late Liverpool legendary coach Bill Shankly: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

It’s so important that when the Liverpool and Manchester United players fly out of Bangkok to continue their pre-season work, Thais will be sad to see them leave and the scoreline (Manchester United 4 Liverpool 0) and selfie opportunities are what matter most to the fans.

That does not mean the organizer is receiving the same love and thankfulness, though. Bon Voyage, Thais are saying to Liverpool and Manchester United. But you, the organizer, “stay”.

Tulsathit Taptim


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