Saturday was a disappointing day for Liverpool in more ways than one. Having surrendered a 2-0 lead against relegation strugglers Sunderland, there was also the matter of a mass protest.
Approximately 10,000 fans left the ground in the 77th minute in direct response to the club’s hiking of ticket prices ahead of next season; despite the growth in television revenue.
The Guardian reported that Liverpool’s American Owners, Fenway Sports Group, have spoken on the issue to the club’s senior management team. The mass exodus is believed to have taken the owners by surprise. No decision, however, has yet been made to reverse the ticket pricing decision.
The Spirit of Shankly were set up in 2008 when 350 Reds fans met in The Sandon Pub in Liverpool to discuss their concerns over the ownership of the club. Since then it has grown into The Liverpool Supporters Union, set up as in Industrial and Provident Society. It has its own management committee, who were formally elected to take over the work of the initial volunteer committee. The planned walkout, was never going to be anything but a large evacuation that opened up chasms of space in Anfield.
Spokesman Jay McKenna (quoted in 90min.com) spoke of his contentedness that the protest was a success.
“We are happy with yesterday’s demonstration and we are pleased with the number of supporters who took part. The moment which preceded the walkout also showed the strength of feeling, with the very loud, audible chants aimed at the directors’ box.
“But the protest was aimed just as much at the owners because the decision of the prices is one made by Fenway Sports Group and the ownership of the club. It is a good indication that supporters are very angry at prices and this will just be the start of taking more action.
“We have got Manchester City and Chelsea at Anfield so those two league matches – where prices are still going to be on the forefront of people’s minds – will be opportunities where we will discuss what action we take next.
“For us, it is unequivocal: this is the start. A walkout of Anfield is unprecedented – it has never happened before – and I can’t think of an occasion where it has happened in such numbers in another league ground in the UK.
“We don’t have a firm idea of what we will do yet as this has all happened very quickly, so we will take the next two days to take stock and talk to the supporters about what we do next.
“But we will be taking action because we need to. Yesterday wasn’t about letting off steam, and saying we are a bit angry but we will carry on. We really need Liverpool Football Club, the owners, and the executives to think to themselves ‘is this the right approach?”
The new price structure for tickets would see an increase for tickets in the main stand from £59 to £77. Season ticket holders would not be unaffected either with a jump from £869 to £1,029 – an increase of £160.
Brian Strahan, Pundit Arena