FSG Have Seen with Their Own Eyes the Urgent Liverpool Move They Must Make Now

This week’s Blood Red column on LiverpoolEcho delves into Liverpool’s contentious choice to raise ticket prices by 2% and the subsequent impact on a discontented Anfield.

During his long-awaited return to Anfield, Tom Werner undoubtedly noticed the solitary yet impactful banner displayed on the Kop Thursday evening. With delegates from all 20 Premier League clubs gathering for their latest shareholders’ meeting this week, and Jurgen Klopp nearing the end of his tenure, alongside the urgent task of securing a suitable successor, Werner’s agenda during his time on Merseyside must have been brimming with pressing matters. However, despite the considerable workload, the absence of Anfield’s characteristic vibrancy on a European night would have undoubtedly struck a dissonant chord for the Fenway Sports Group chief.

“No to ticket price increases” was the simple, effective phrase from the singular message permitted to stand on the Kop on Thursday. Werner – and by extension, the rest of FSG – will have heard that statement loud and clear as a result.

The decision not to display banners and flags during the first leg of their quarter-final against Atalanta was a serious one.

Spion Kop 1906, the fans’ group responsible for the iconic stand at Anfield, made this decision due to their disappointment with the club’s 2% ticket price increase announced last Friday.

Liverpool attributed the price hike to rising costs but emphasized that their ticket prices remain among the lowest in the Premier League.

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Despite being a small increase for a club like Liverpool, which boasts a substantial revenue, critics argue it could harm the club’s image, especially with Champions League football likely to return soon.

The debate over whether the anger from fans is justified has intensified, particularly with the club’s drop in the Deloitte Football Money League rankings.

The controversy has divided the fanbase, with social media reflecting the heated discussions surrounding the issue.

A civil war has erupted among those who adhered to the no-flag decree, accused of contributing to an environment lacking in energy, which evidently affected the performance of a fatigued team in what could potentially mark Klopp’s final European match at Anfield. The 3-0 loss to Atalanta has left Europa League aspirations hanging by a thread, with attendees of the match criticized for the absence of vibrancy and noise within the stadium.

While it was not akin to the atmosphere during Barcelona’s visit in 2019 or Chelsea’s match in 2005, fans did not leave feeling utterly disheartened on those historic nights either.

Nevertheless, discussions persisted well into the early hours of Friday morning, with arguments for and against the protest gaining traction. Advocating for ticket price increases amidst a nationwide cost of living crisis presents a controversial standpoint.

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The protest, inherently disruptive in nature, undoubtedly left its mark. However, those condemning Kop supporters for inadvertently impacting the team’s European prospects only reinforce the notion that the individuals responsible for creating the renowned Anfield ambiance should not be undervalued, unlike the proposed ticket pricing adjustments.

Business economics often adheres to the principles of supply and demand. This is especially evident in situations where there is a global fanbase willing to pay to attend events like those held at Anfield. However, there is a significant risk in alienating the very supporters who have contributed to the club’s marketability and success over the years. Is this risk truly worth it for FSG or Liverpool themselves?

Both the ownership group and the club frequently emphasize the importance of their fanbase for marketing purposes. Therefore, it is imperative to find a compromise that satisfies all parties involved.

The timing of any decisions regarding the fanbase is crucial, especially given Liverpool’s ongoing pursuit of success in competitions like the Premier League and Europa League. This underscores the urgent need for more meaningful dialogue between all stakeholders.

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