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Monday 5 December 2016

Reds fans hail ticket u-turn

FSG price-freeze welcomed as 'unprecedented'

Liverpool fans protest at the club’s planned ticket price increase last Saturday. Photo: Getty
Liverpool fans protest at the club’s planned ticket price increase last Saturday. Photo: Getty

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," Spirit of Shankly spokesman Jay McKenna said.

"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 also added: "The announcement has to be seen as a positive step in repairing the relationship between owners and supporters. If they had recognised what was being said by supporters about the impact of the original price rises (perhaps by actually meeting with their own Ticketing Working Group) then much of the embarrassment and upset of the last four days would have been avoided.

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

Meanwhile, football fans across Europe are set to unite in a series of protests over rising ticket prices which have led to them feeling increasingly disenfranchised from the game. Recent high-profile incidents at Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund will have raised fears among authorities of potential copycat demonstrations at top-level matches on the continent.

The Football Supporters' Federation has implicitly backed direct action, believing the attendant negative publicity of such protests can help sway Premier League club executives to implement price caps.

Fans' anger has been heightened by the incoming £5.1billion television rights deal, which the FSF believes would allow clubs to let every supporter into every home game for free next season and still bring in the same revenue.

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