Liverpool owners scrap £77 ticket and apologise to fans

Liverpool fans
Liverpool fans made their point to owners Fenway Sports Group - who replied with a 937-word open letter

Liverpool's owners have scrapped their controversial £77 ticket and apologised for the "distress caused" by last week's pricing announcement.

Thousands of fans left 77 minutes into Saturday's draw with Sunderland at Anfield in protest at the planned top-price £77 ticket in the new main stand.

Ticket prices: Who has the Premier League's most expensive tickets?

In reversing their decision, club owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) told disgruntled fansexternal-link "Message received."

Liverpool's dearest matchday ticket will now stay at £59.

The highest season-ticket price is also frozen.

Liverpool's principal owner John W Henry, chairman Tom Werner and FSG president Mike Gordon issued an open letter detailing the changes, following what they described as a "tumultuous week".

"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," it said.

"Quite the opposite is true."

The club has also ended game categorisation - meaning fans will pay the same price for matchday tickets regardless of the opposition.

Key quotes from the open letter

  • "We have never taken a single penny out of the football club. Instead we have injected vast sums of our own money."
  • "We were strongly engaged in the process to develop the ticketing plan for 2016-2017."
  • "Part of the ticketing plan we got wrong."
  • "We believed... these increases were supportable even in the context of growth in revenues from the new Premier League TV deal."
  • "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. Message received."
  • "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."
  • "We believe we have demonstrated a willingness to listen carefully, reconsider our position, and act decisively."
  • "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."

Background to the protests

From next season, Premier League clubs will benefit from a new three-year £5.1bn domestic television rights deal.

When overseas rights contracts are taken into consideration, that sum jumps to about £8bn.external-link

Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) chairman Malcolm Clarke has been urging clubs to reduce ticket prices as a result.

BBC Sport's Price of Football study found two thirds of Premier League tickets were frozen or reduced in price in 2015.

Now Liverpool have joined Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Manchester United, Norwich and Swansea in freezing season-ticket prices for 2016-17.

West Ham have reduced theirs for their move to the Olympic Stadium.

Clarke told BBC Sport that the FSF plans to meet fan groups to discuss further action, including a potential mass walkout across a weekend of Premier League fixtures.

He said his organisation wanted to make sure top-flight clubs "really do deliver some sort of a package" to help bring down prices.

The Premier League says all clubs are in "absolute agreement" to help away fans, without a "consensus" on how to do it.

A spokesman said there would be "something meaningful for the start of next season".

During Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, David Cameron said he would "look very carefully" at Labour proposals to give fans compulsory places in club boardrooms.

What football is costing you
Full Price of Football results for 2015
Dan Roan on why protests will persist despite price freezes
Average cheapest Premier League match-day ticket above £30
Play with the Price of Football calculator and put a price on your support

'A victory for fan power'

BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty:

The swift reaction of Liverpool's owners to the anger generated by their new ticket prices for next season is a victory for fan power.

Liverpool have become a lightning rod for mounting concern over rising Premier League ticket prices, especially with a multi-billion-pound television deal kicking in next season.

To the credit of their owners, they have admitted they got it wrong, have acted decisively and moved quickly to appease the growing tide of discontent among their loyal fanbase.

FSG will hope the climbdown, because that is what it is, will repair fractures in that crucial relationship with Liverpool's fans. They have listened and for that they deserve additional credit.

Those fans, in turn, will feel they have struck a significant blow for supporters around the country.

They, many would suggest, deserve even more credit.

Liverpool fans walk out of match against Sunderland
After Liverpool fans walked out in the 77th minute of Saturday's match, the Reds threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2

'We have to give something back'

West Brom manager Tony Pulistold BBC Radio 5 live that clubs have "enough money to subsidise" tickets and need to ensure they are not "milking" supporters.

He suggested away fans should only pay £10 to ensure the atmosphere at grounds matched that inside the "fantastic" stadiums in Germany.

"We have to give something back," said Pulis. "My chairman will probably never speak to me again after saying this."

Gareth Roberts, editor of the Anfield Wrap website, praised Liverpool's response.

"It was an unprecedented step for everyone to walk out like they did," he said. "It was a fantastic show of strength and solidarity by the fans.

"We are one of the first clubs in the country to do this and I hope fans across the country realise that, if you make your voice heard and stand up and say it is wrong, you can get somewhere with it.

"Football supporters have proved they are really important in the game."