When fans walked out of Anfield, people listened. Notably, the people in charge of Liverpool and Fenway Sports Group listened. And after four days of tense separation between fan and team, Owner John W Henry, Chairman Tom Werner and President Mike Gordon have apologized to Liverpool fans and made changes to the ticket price structure to try and make things right.
In a statement on Liverpool’s website, Henry, Werner and Gordon talked about how they misinterpreted the marketplace and admitted they got part of their ticketing plan wrong. They decided to freeze or lower ticket prices throughout Anfield for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 season. Parts of their statement include the following.
It has been a tumultuous week. 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.
In addition to the other elements of the plan we proposed price increases on a number of tickets. These pricing actions generated growth in general admission ticketing revenue on a like-for-like basis exclusive of revenue from newly-added GA seats.
We believed by delivering a vastly improved seat offering in what will be the newest stand in English football, concentrating the price increases on those tickets typically purchased by fans least sensitive to affordability, and for LFC to begin repaying the £120million advance from FSG for the new Main Stand that these increases were supportable even in the context of growth in revenues from the new Premier League TV deal.
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.
Liverpool shared the changes they made to the ticketing structure to try and rectify the situation and undo what they did. Some changes they made include:
– Ticket prices remaining the same price regardless of opponent. Whether it’s Manchester United or Norwich City, fans are paying the same price for that same seat all season long.
– General Admission ticket pricing “will be readjusted to result in zero revenue growth.”
– Except for seats in the new Main Stand, General Admission ticket prices will be frozen based off of 2015-16 prices.
– The most expensive General Admission single game ticket will be frozen at £59 ($86) while season tickets will range from £685 ($995) to £869 ($1,262). The most expensive tickets will be frozen while the least expensive tickets dropped by £25.
– 10,000 tickets throughout the season will be sold for £9 ($13). Initiatives from the original plan like offering 20,000 tickets throughout the season at half price for 17-21 year olds as well as 1,000 free tickets throughout the season for local Liverpool schoolchildren as a reward remain in this updated plan.
The Spirit of Shankly and Spion Kop 1906 supporters groups responded and saw things as a “positive step in repairing the relationship between owners and supporters.”
It remains to be seen what will happen in the short and long term between Liverpool and their fans, but this could potentially have repercussions on other teams in the Premier League. If fans are as displeased with their team about ticket prices as Liverpool was with theirs, they could do the same thing and walk out knowing that it worked with Liverpool. And if a team decides to raise ticket prices, fans can look at Liverpool as an example of keeping prices frozen and asking their team if Liverpool can do it, why can’t they?
Something tells me this will not be over but at least for Liverpool’s sake, the relationship between team and fans can begin to be repaired. Other teams are now on notice.