Liverpool’s American owners finally bowed to pressure from the club’s fans by backing down on plans to increase ticket prices significantly for next season following a mass walkout protest at their Anfield stadium on Saturday.
Around 10,000 supporters headed for the exits during the club’s 2-2 Premier League draw with Sunderland, in protest against proposals to introduce a highest-priced 77-pound ($112) ticket for next season.
Principal Owner John W Henry, Chairman Tom Werner and President Mike Gordon issued a statement on the club’s website on Wednesday, apologising for any distress that had been caused and saying those plans had been scrapped.
The most expensive ticket will now be 59 pounds.
“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 statement said.
“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.”
The club said that while some prices may move marginally from this season, total ticket revenue would be frozen at the current level, excluding new seats which are due to be added in the redeveloped Main Stand.
A number of high-profile Liverpool figures joined Saturday’s protest with the club’s former defender and now Sky pundit Jamie Carragher leaving Anfield on 77 minutes and ex-manager Roy Evans tweeting his support.
The Liverpool protest has gained widespread support among fans from other clubs and supporters’ groups, while Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron said in Parliament that he would “look very carefully” at the issue of ticket prices.
Liverpool has comparatively high levels of unemployment to other cities and is ranked the fourth most deprived local authority, according to national statistics for 2015.
In defence of their record, Liverpool’s owners said they had not taken a “single penny” out of the club and had invested heavily in the playing squad and infrastructure.
The Fenway Sports Group took over at Liverpool in 2010, replacing former co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett who had faced widespread protests from fans for leveraging the club with debt and pushing it to the verge of insolvency.
Liverpool dominated English football in the 1970s and 80s and have won the league title 18 times, second only to Manchester United with 20, as well as five European Cups. Their last domestic league trophy came in 1990.