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Fans force Liverpool into U-turn on ticket prices

By Chris Bascombe

LIVERPOOL have been forced into an about-turn on the ticket pricing that prompted an Anfield walkout, abandoning controversial plans and issuing an apology to supporters.

Fenway Sports Group’s restructuring of matchday costs has been ripped up and replaced with a new deal for fans, freezing existing seating charges for the next two seasons and ending the categorisation of ticket prices.

The club’s hierarchy were rattled by the scale of the Feb 6 demonstration, when 10,000 spectators left the stadium after 77 minutes of the match with Sunderland.

Supporters chose that moment as a symbolic gesture because the most expensive seat next season had been set at £77.

Liverpool argued that only 1,200 tickets were to be sold at that price over the year, but many thousands more were to be put on sale well in excess of £59 – the current highest price for an Anfield seat. That £59 ceiling has now been restored.

Liverpool have agreed to a twoyear freeze. They also intend to retain the cheaper pricing for younger fans which was broadly welcomed amid the controversy of the previous week’s contentious announcement.

In a 937-word letter, the owner, John W Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Mike Gordon attempted to repair the damage.

“It has been a tumultuous week,” they wrote. “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.

“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.

“We have never taken a single penny out of the club. Instead, we have injected vast sums of our own money to improve the playing squad and modernise LFC’s infrastructure – exemplified by the £120million advance from FSG to build the new Main Stand.

“On the other hand, part of the ticketing plan we got wrong. A great many of you have objected strongly to the £77 price level of our most expensive GA [general admission] seats and expressed a clear expectation that the club should forego any increased revenue from raising prices on general admission tickets in the current environment. Message received.”

Supporters welcomed the club’s swift change of position.

“We did not expect this,” Jay McKenna, a spokesman for the Spirit of Shankly group, said. “It is unprecedented that they have apologised, remarkable, but it is the right approach.” Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher wrote on Twitter: “Great decision by the club and great news for the fans.”

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