So the owners of Liverpool Football Club have reversed their decision to charge fans £77 for a ticket in the club’s main stand.
I have watched with real fascination and admiration in the past few days at how well the club’s Spirit of Shankly Supporters Club have organised themselves and their media campaign. The well-timed walk-out by fans in the 77th minute of Liverpool’s game with Sunderland at the weekend was a stroke of genius.
While the fans will not have relished the result – Liverpool threw away a 2–0 lead to draw 2 -2 – their point was well and truly made both off and on the pitch. Even the Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp seemed to throw his support to the fans.
Better late than never, the Liverpool owners braved it out until this evening, finally admitting they got it wrong.
It might seem like a long week for Liverpool fans but the club has acted with relative speed – the first rule when making an apology. More impressively from a PR point of view, their apology was unreserved and unequivocal.
The club clearly has not covered itself in glory over the past week. It will no doubt have to build bridges over the coming months to win back the trust of its supporters but their letter of apology is an excellent start.
The Anfield club's principal owner John W Henry, chairman Tom Werner and FSG president Mike Gordon issued an open letter detailing the changes, following what they described as a "tumultuous week". "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," it said. "Quite the opposite is true." Key quotes from the open letter "We have never taken a single penny out of the football club. Instead we have injected vast sums of our own money." "We were strongly engaged in the process to develop the ticketing plan for 2016-2017." "Part of the ticketing plan we got wrong." "We believed... these increases were supportable even in the context of growth in revenues from the new Premier League TV deal." "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. Message received." "This plan shall be in effect for both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. For the next two seasons, LFC will not earn a single additional pound from increasing general admission ticket prices." "We believe we have demonstrated a willingness to listen carefully, reconsider our position, and act decisively." "The unique and sacred relationship between Liverpool Football Club and its supporters has always been foremost in our minds. It represents the heartbeat of this extraordinary football club."