Liverpool have announced they will scrap plans regarding controversial new ticket pricing, and they have released a detailed apology to supporters after fans walked out of Anfield in the 77th minute against Sunderland on Feb. 6 in protest.
Reds owners Fenway Sports Group released a lengthy statement on the club's official website on Wednesday night explaining its change in direction, personally addressed by principal owner John W. Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Mike Gordon:
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.
From our first days as owners we have understood that serving as custodians of this incredible institution is a distinct privilege and as such, we have been driven solely by the desire to return LFC to the pinnacle of football. In the world of modern football, growing the club in a sustainable way is essential to realising this objective.
To that end, we have never taken a single penny out of the football club. Instead we have injected vast sums of our own money to improve the playing squad and modernise LFC’s infrastructure - exemplified by the £120 million advance from FSG to build the new Main Stand. This massive undertaking was made in order to provide more supporters access to Anfield and also to produce additional revenue to help us compete financially with clubs that have greater resources. When it opens in August this year, the stand will accomplish those goals, thereby fulfilling a promise we made upon acquiring LFC in 2010.
The owners went on to explain they now believe they made an error with the implementation of their ticketing strategy, due to take place in 2016-17, saying, per the club's website: "The widespread opposition to this element of the [pricing] plan has made it clear that we were mistaken."
Approximately 10,000 fans left Anfield during the club's latest Premier League fixture against Sunderland in protest, according to Chris Bascombe of the Daily Telegraph. Fans walked out in the 77th minute—reflecting the proposed £77 ticket price band in the new stand.
Bascombe said Liverpool's owners were "appalled" by the scale of the protests, and they opted to take prompt action. The new ticketing deal will see existing seating prices frozen for two years, and the "ending the categorisation of ticket prices."
The change of decision from Liverpool's board will be viewed by many as a victory for fan power, as supporters made a worldwide example of the club with their demonstrations.
Liverpool's change in stance is likely to motivate other fanbases to do the same, as supporters fight for fairer treatment and pricing at stadiums across the UK.