Tuesday 6 December 2016

Liverpool owners FSG brag about 'transforming fans into customers' on website

Sean Gibson

Published 04/02/2016 | 14:21

Liverpool owners' plan: Good for business, perhaps not so good for supporter relations
Liverpool owners' plan: Good for business, perhaps not so good for supporter relations

As a football club who has just announced a spectacularly unpopular hike in ticket prices, you may think it just good sense to take a more sensitive approach to the press in the days that follow.

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Alas, Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group have skirted around that fundament of supporter relations, with a post on their website crowing about "turning fans into customers".

This approach is unlikely to sit well with the Liverpool fanbase, with the Liverpool Supporters Committee having recently regarded the club's new matchday ticket plan as "a further setback for loyal supporters".

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The post, on the Fenway Sports Management website, celebrates Liverpool FC as "a storied franchise with a rich history dating back to 1892 when the Reds played its (sic) first match at its home, Anfield Stadium.

"LFC is one of the most well-known and respected clubs in all of sport," it continues, "and with more than 580 million fans spanning seven continents, LFC supporters 'Never Walk Alone'."

The item then links to a case study of the commercial benefits of Subway becoming Liverpool FC's 'Official Training Food'.

This website post comes in the same week as Liverpool's unveiling of a new matchday ticket price structure, which plans for the first-ever £1,000 season ticket and a £77 individual match ticket.

Premier League shareholders will discuss ticket pricing more broadly when they meet later this week in London.

No clubs have yet committed to cutting the cost of tickets since the Premier League announced its new domestic television rights deal last year, which rose in value from £3bn to £5.14bn.

Supporter initiatives to reduce the monetary burden of matchday attendance have thus far failed to get enough support to force changes in time for next season.

Both 'Spirit of Shankly' - the Liverpool Supporters' Union - and the official Liverpool Supporters Committee have been vocal in their despair at the club's recent ticket-price plans, having contributed to the Ticket Working Group for over a year in the hope of reaching a more favourable compromise.

In a statement released earlier this week, the Liverpool Supporters Committee said: "This is a lost opportunity for LFC to begin the reversal of the effects of inflation-busting prices that have forced out many loyal fans over recent years.

"Unfortunately, the decisions of the ownership are based purely on economics with no compromise.

"They have tried to frame the debate from the view that ticket prices as they stand are fair and that their planned rises somehow supports this fairness. This is an unsustainable argument. Fairness is not making more money than ever before from supporters."

 Meanwhile, Spirit of Shankly made a statement of their own on their website on Tuesday: "Whilst we are not happy with the outcome, we would like to place on record our thanks to those UK based executives of the club who have engaged with us openly and honestly, listened to us and feedback (sic) our concerns as we had no direct engagement with the owners.

"The final decision on these prices was theirs. They should be the ones made to account for them."

Ian Ayre, Liverpool chief executive, defended the club's plans earlier this week.

"The redevelopment of our Main Stand and increased capacity has given us flexibility to freeze or reduce more than half of all tickets across the stadium," he said, "which is reflected in our longer term plan to give fans more choice on what price they pay to attend a game."

The new price structure also allows for 2,250 tickets available to children at just £9 each.

Ayre added: "The feedback has been clear that having more local and young people at Anfield is a priority and we are delighted to be launching these new ticketing initiatives."

Telegraph.co.uk

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