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Board to meet unhappy Liverpool fans over Anfield ticket prices

If you watched Liverpool’s Europa League quarter-final first leg against Atalanta on Thursday night then you might have noticed something a little strange, and it was to do with Anfield ticket prices.

As bizarre as the team’s humbling 3-0 defeat to Atalanta on the pitch was, I’m talking about something else. Anfield, which is normally so awash with flags and banners before the game, was strangely subdued. There was just one banner on the Kop – “No to ticket price increases,” it read.

It came in response, as you might have guessed, to Liverpool owner Fenway Sports Group’s (FSG) announcement that there would be a 2 per cent increase in Anfield ticket prices next season.

But news has emerged on Friday that Liverpool will meet with its supporters board this weekend, giving fans fresh hope that FSG may row back on their plans.

Liverpool fans holding a banner protesting again ticket prices before the UEFA Europa League quarter-final, first leg match at Anfield. Photo by Icon Sport

Liverpool’s ticket price debacle

The price increase news has split the Liverpool fanbase. Some have claimed that, given inflation, it is only fair that the club raise ticket prices accordingly.

This is a reasonable thing to suggest, but ignores the fact that, over the last 40 years,  Anfield ticket prices– and indeed every other Premier League club – have risen at a far quicker rate than the rate of inflation.

It is also difficult to see why, from a business perspective, Liverpool are so eager for the £20,000 a week that this increase would get them.

As Bayern Munich general manager Uli Hoeness once famously said, “We could charge more than £104. Let’s say we charged £300. We’d get £2 million more in income, but what’s £2 million to us?”

“In a transfer discussion you argue about that sum for five minutes. But the difference between £104 and £300 is huge for the fan. We do not think the fans are like cows, who you milk.”

Fans made their views clear during the Atalanta game. Photo by Icon Sport

What have the Liverpool supporters board said about Anfield ticket prices?

The Liverpool supporters board are disappointed that they were not given the chance to discuss the price increase before it went public. They argue that the purpose of the board is to engage in the decision-making process, not just receive advance warning of any decision FSG take.

Chairperson of the board Joe Blott said: “We have been working really hard to enhance the levels of engagement between the fans and the club, but when issues arise that question the meaningfulness of that engagement we have to challenge and ask questions of that.”

“That is what the supporters’ board will do and, hopefully, we get back to moving forward with a long-term planned strategy for ticketing at the football club.”

When have FSG rowed back on plans before?

While the purpose of this weekend’s meeting is to discuss what “fan engagement” means, it hasn’t stopped some Liverpool fans from hoping that FSG may row back on the decision to increase prices.

To be fair to those fans, there is a precedent for Liverpool’s owners to change their decisions based on backlash from the club’s supporters.

In 2016, 10,000 Liverpool fans walked out of a 2-2 draw with Sunderland on the 77th minute in protest against the club’s announcement that it would introduce £77 tickets. In response, FSG backed down and capped ticket prices at £59 until the 2018-19 season.

Then in 2021, under pressure from Liverpool fans and the wider football community, FSG u-turned on plans to support the formation of a European Super League – ending with principal owner John Henry delivering a video apology to the club’s supporters.

Liverpool chairman Tom Werner was in attendance at Anfield yesterday, and Reds’ fans will be hoping that the lifeless display on and off the field will convince him and FSG to rethink their ticket price plans.

tom werner
Liverpool owner Tom Werner and his wife Jennifer Ashton were in attendance on Thursday night. Photo by Icon Sport

Jamie Barton

A freelance football writer and podcaster, Jamie has appeared on/in the BBC World Service, PA Media, Charlton Athletic FC and Empire of the Kop, among others. He's attended matches all around the world, from Tranmere to Tokyo, and once had his bus home from the 2022 Champions League final in Paris delayed by 28 hours.

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