Liverpool's American owners apologized to fans and reversed planned rises in ticket prices on Wednesday, insisting they were not "greedy."
LONDON (AP) — Liverpool's American owners apologized to fans and reversed planned rises in ticket prices on Wednesday, insisting they were not "greedy."
The climb-down came after thousands of Liverpool fans staged a walkout at Anfield during Saturday's match against Sunderland. Their campaign reached the House of Commons on Wednesday when British Prime David Cameron intervened, calling the rapidly escalating cost of watching Premier League games a "problem."
Within hours, Liverpool's owners backed down and accepted the supporters' concerns in an open letter to fans.
"It has been a tumultuous week," said John Henry, Tom Werner, and Mike Gordon, who also own baseball's Boston Red Sox. "On behalf of everyone at Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool Football Club we would like to apologize for the distress caused by our ticket pricing plan for the 2016-17 season."
The anger was set off by some ticket prices for next season being hiked to 77 pounds ($112) in Anfield. As a result, Liverpool fans chose to leave their seats in the 77th minute of Saturday's game. Liverpool was leading 2-0 at the time and conceded two late goals in front of thousands of empty seats.
Cameron was asked about the potential for protests spreading across English stadiums during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday.
"There is a problem here where some teams and some clubs put up prices very rapidly every year, even though so much of the money for football actually comes through the sponsorship and the equipment," Cameron said.
England's topflight are less reliant than ever before on ticket revenue. Premier League clubs are preparing for the start of new three-year television deals worth around 8.3 billion pounds ($12 billion).
Liverpool's about-turn on prices will see the most expensive ticket price frozen at 59 pounds next season and the cheapest will remain nine pounds.
The Liverpool owners said they were "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."
Such protests against Fenway Sports Group would have seemed unthinkable in 2010 when the investors ended the despised Anfield reign of fellow American businessmen Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr.
Protests against ticket prices aren't just restricted to English soccer. Borussia Dortmund's game at Stuttgart was held up on Tuesday when its fans threw tennis balls onto the field.
"Great tennis," read a banner in their block. Another banner said, "Football must be more affordable."