Reds owners apologise to fans - and announce U-turn on proposed ticket increases
Published 10/02/2016 | 19:06
Liverpool's owners have performed a U-turn on proposed ticket increases after apologising to fans for getting their plans wrong.
Principal owner and John W Henry and chairman Tom Werner were understood to be shocked at the sight of an estimated 10,000 fans walking out of Saturday's Barclays Premier League match against Sunderland in the 77th minute in protest at increases next season which included a new £77 match ticket and the club's first £1,000 season ticket.
Press Association Sport understands they were also surprised by the level of abuse directed at them - fans chanted 'You greedy b******s, enough is enough' before walking out.
It is understood Henry and Werner were keen to stress they believe the connection between supporters is "unique and sacred" and that is the reason they have acted so swiftly to prevent further damage to their relationship with the fanbase.
Having promised an immediate review the American-based owners have listened to the concerns of fans and moved quickly to try to rectify the situation.
As a result they have announced a number of changes to their initial proposals in a structure which will also remain for the 2017/18 season.
Revenue generated from ticket prices will be frozen at 2015-16 levels; this means the highest match-day price for a general admission ticket will remain at £59 - the lowest will be £9 and these tickets will be offered for every match with an allocation of 10,000 across the season.
The highest season ticket price will be frozen at £869 and the lowest £685.
Liverpool's owners have also announced the removal of game categorisations, so regardless of the opposition, supporters will pay the same price for match day tickets.
"It has been a tumultuous week," said an open letter jointly signed by Henry and Werner.
"On behalf of everyone at Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool Football Club we would like to apologise for the distress caused by our ticket pricing plan for the 2016/17 season.
"We were strongly engaged in the process to develop the ticketing plan for 2016/2017.
"We met directly with representatives of LFC's Supporters' Committee and along with LFC management, wholeheartedly agreed with major concerns raised, notably: access for local and young supporters; engagement and access to Anfield for local children; access to Premier League matches for those in Liverpool most challenged by affordability.
"We believe the plan successfully addressed these concerns and are disappointed that these elements have been either lost or, worse, characterised as cynical attempts to mask profiteering in the plan as a whole.
"Rather, we prefer to look at them as the parts of the ticketing plan we got right.
"On the other hand, part of the ticketing plan we got wrong."
Liverpool supporters' union Spirit of Shankly said : " Today's announcement has to be seen a positive step in repairing the relationship between owners and supporters.
"If they had recognised what was being said by supporters about the impact of the original price rises...then much of the embarrassment and upset of the last four days would have been avoided. It is a sobering lesson in listening to your supporters properly.
"We welcome these changes from the owners and that they have recognised the mistake made and apologised for it. We take no delight in them being wrong. It helps no one.
"What is important though is that a lesson is learned and that proper engagement and taking note of supporters' concerns occurs and those views are taken more seriously.
"We will take this opportunity to review the numbers and their impact upon supporters, we will be speaking to the club about it and we will speak with supporters to get their views.
"The Spirit of Shankly and Spion Kop 1906 believe that, given the fact there has been this reconsideration by the owners, it is only fair and appropriate that we reconsider our next steps until the full impact of these changes can be established."
FSG signed off their open letter - also signed by FSG president Mike Gordon, the owners' senior man when it comes to Liverpool - by stressing their desire to maintain open lines of communication with fans.
"We believe we have demonstrated a willingness to listen carefully, reconsider our position, and act decisively," it said.
"The unique and sacred relationship between Liverpool Football Club and its supporters has always been foremost in our minds. It represents the heartbeat of this extraordinary football club.
"More than any other factor by far, that bond is what drives us to work tirelessly on behalf of the club and its future.
"We have great conviction in our world class manager (Jurgen Klopp) and our young, talented squad and know that in time the on-pitch success we all crave will be realised."