Reds owners sorry as protest forces U-turn

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Liverpool FC principal owner John W Henry. Pic © Trinity Mirror

Liverpool FC principal owner John W Henry. Pic © Trinity Mirror

Liverpool FC’s owners have reversed plans to increase ticket prices up to £77, issuing an apology to the fans for the ‘distress’ they may have caused.

Around 10,000 supporters walked out of Anfield in the 77th minute of the 2-2 draw against Sunderland on Saturday, as a protest following the club’s announcement that they would be changing the current ticket structure, which would have led to the top band price rising from £59 to £77.

Fenway Sports Group had arranged urgent meetings with club directors, which has resulted in them releasing a statement tonight from primary owner John W Henry, FSG Chairman Tom Werner and President Mike Gordon.

The letter apologised to fans and laid out new plans to freeze ticket prices for two categories, stating: “It has been a tumultuous week. On behalf of everyone at Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool Football Club we would like to apologize for the distress caused by our ticket pricing plan for the 2016/17 season.

Liverpool supporters leave Anfield in protest against new ticket prices in the 77th minute against Sunderland. Pic by Connor Lynch © JMU Journalism

Liverpool supporters leave Anfield in protest against new ticket prices in the 77th minute against Sunderland. Pic by Connor Lynch © JMU Journalism

“The three of us have been particularly troubled by the perception that we don’t care about our supporters, that we are greedy, and that we are attempting to extract personal profits at the club’s expense. Quite the opposite is true.

“A great many of you have objected strongly to the £77 price level of our most expensive GA seats and expressed a clear expectation that the club should forego any increased revenue from raising prices on GA tickets in the current environment.

“Message received.”

The statement laid out the club’s new match policy, which is that they are going to freeze the current rates of all tickets for two years and the removal of game characterisation charges, meaning that ticket prices will remain the same regardless of the opposition.

In addition, 10,000 £9 tickets will also be made available throughout the season for fans, as well as an allocation of 1,000 tickets to be given away free of charge to schoolchildren.

Many supporters of the Reds have expressed their immediate positive reaction to the announcement, with thousands taking to social media to share their feelings.

Proposed design of the new Main Stand as part of the redeveloped Anfield © Liverpool FC

Proposed design of the new Main Stand as part of the redeveloped Anfield © Liverpool FC

Jay McKenna, a member of the Spirit of Shankly group that helped organise Saturday’s walkout, tweeted: “Erm, well I am not quite sure words can fully explain this. Remarkable change. Well in supporters. Win!”

The Spirit of Shankly organisation later issued a statement, including: “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.”

Liverpool fanzine ‘This is Anfield’ also gave its support to the protest campaign and the change of direction that the club has taken, tweeting: “The power of fans — Liverpool U-turn on ticket prices!”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn even weighed in with his backing for the Anfield faithful, saying on Twitter: “Liverpool FC ticket prices frozen for two seasons. After 77 minute walk out on Saturday. Great to see people power working.”