Over the past week, Liverpool football club has not been in the best mood with the relation between the fans and the owners of the club hitting a snag regarding raise in ticket prices.
The Anfield faithful staged a 77th minute walk out during the game against Sunderland and protested against the proposed rise in ticket prices for the next season. Various fan associations also made it clear that it was the first step in what is to follow.
These protests have not gone un-noticed all around the world with various club supporters also planning to protest against any rise in the prices for next season. However, Fenway Sports Group, the owners of the Liverpool franchise made a great statement of intent to repair their damaged relation with the fans.
Earlier today, FSG made a u-turn on their proposed rise in ticket prices and released a public statement apologizing for the decision taken earlier.
The owners of the club in an open letter to fans apologized for not understanding the fans and made it clear that the prices of the tickets would be the same for the next two seasons at Anfield.
The letter explained, “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.”
The owners were also accused of being greedy and that they are using the club to milk profits. However, in the letter addressed by John W Henry, Tom Werner, Mike Gordon, made it clear that they were not looking for profits.
“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”
The owners also explained how the new stand was always in their planning and that the next season would see the club start repaying the amount that was invested by the owners in the new constructions.
“We have injected vast sums of our own money to improve the playing squad and modernize LFC’s infrastructure—exemplified by the £120 million advance from FSG to build the new Main Stand. This massive undertaking was made in order to provide more supporters access to Anfield and also to produce additional revenue to help us compete financially with clubs that have greater resources.”
The letter also said that the owners accepted that they were wrong in assessing the ticket prices and acknowledged that effort put in by the fans in staging the protests at Anfield.
“However, the widespread opposition to this element of the plan has made it clear that we were mistaken. 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”
They also released a list of major revisions to the price structure for 2016.
• Removal of game categorisation – regardless of the opposition fans will pay the sameprice for matchday tickets.
• The pricing of tickets will be readjusted to result in zero revenue growth from GA ticketing on a like for like basis.
• Though individual ticket prices may move marginally from this season, we are freezing our 2016/17 GA ticket revenue at the 2015/16 level exclusive of newly added seats in the new Main Stand.
• The price of our highest General Admission ticket will be frozen at the 2015/16 level – £59.
• The price of our highest Season Ticket will be frozen at the 2015/16 level – £869. The lowest price reducing a further £25 from the 2015/16 level to £685, as well as all other tiers being frozen or reduced.
• £9 GA seats will be offered for each and every Premier League match, an allocation of more than 10,000 tickets across the season.
We would hasten to add that the other initiatives announced last week in the 2016/17 plan will remain:
• 17-21 young adult concession – 20,000 tickets across the Premier League season available at a 50% reduction for young people.
• 1,000 tickets to Premier League matches across the season will be given away free of charge to Liverpool school children based on merit, as recommended by their teachers. As a sign of our commitment to this improved ticketing structure, we are further announcing that this plan shall be in effect for both the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons. For the next two seasons, LFC will not earn a single additional pound from increasing General Admission ticket prices.
All this will surely earn them the trust that they seem to have lost in the past week and Liverpool fans are now planning to acknowledge the decision of the owners in the next home game for the club.
This surely is not just a victory for the fans but football all around as financial element of the game has been taking over the sport in recent times. It is to be seen if other clubs around Liverpool take similar stand thanks to the decisions of the US based owners of the Merseyside club.