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Liverpool fans celebrate as owners bin ticket hike

By Carl Markham

Published 11/02/2016

Powerful protest: around 10,000 empty seats were left at Anfield on Saturday after fans walked out over proposed plans to increase ticket prices
Powerful protest: around 10,000 empty seats were left at Anfield on Saturday after fans walked out over proposed plans to increase ticket prices
John W Henry

Liverpool supporters' groups have hailed the "remarkable and unprecedented" move by the club's owners to reverse their decision on price increases.

An estimated 10,000 fans walked out of Anfield on Saturday in protest at next season's proposed hike, which would have heralded a new £77 match ticket and £1,000 season ticket as well as increases for around a third of all season ticket holders.

That action was noticed by Liverpool's owners Fenway Sports Group and they have responded by announcing a freeze on prices, decategorising matches and making £9 tickets available for all games with an allocation of 10,000 over the whole season.

They also apologised for getting it wrong in an open letter to fans from principal owner John W Henry and chairman Tom Werner.

"If I am really honest I am not sure we can put it into words - we did not expect this," said Spirit of Shankly spokesman Jay McKenna.

"It is unprecedented that they have apologised, remarkable.

"It is the right approach from the club that they apologised for the mistake."

On the effect the walkout had in changing the owners' opinion he added: "Supporters have reminded themselves that they are important to this game and reminded the authorities just how important they are.

"Clearly the club has seen the level of opposition to what was planned."

In a statement Spirit of Shankly added: "Today's announcement has to be seen as a positive step in repairing the relationship between owners and supporters.

"It is a sobering lesson in listening to your fans properly."

Henry and chairman Werner were understood to be shocked at the sight of an estimated 10,000 fans walking out of Saturday's 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.

It's believed they were also surprised by the level of abuse directed at them - fans chanted 'You greedy b*******, 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 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, fans 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.

"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."

Belfast Telegraph

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