Football: Fan clubs mull over walkout at games

Some Liverpool fans leaving in the 77th minute of the match against Sunderland in protest against the £77 top pricing for tickets in the newly reconstructed Main Stand. To make things worse, the Reds, leading 2-0 at the time, conceded twice late on
Some Liverpool fans leaving in the 77th minute of the match against Sunderland in protest against the £77 top pricing for tickets in the newly reconstructed Main Stand. To make things worse, the Reds, leading 2-0 at the time, conceded twice late on to drop two points.PHOTO: , EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

In wake of Reds' protest, groups consider joint action over bid to cap ticket prices

LONDON • Britain's Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) will discuss organising a widespread walkout of Premier League matches with supporters' groups in response to the rising cost of attending games.

After 10,000 Liverpool fans staged a 77th-minute walkout during the Reds' 2-2 draw with Sunderland on Saturday in protest over plans to introduce the most expensive match ticket of £77 (S$156), the FSF plans to convene a meeting of supporters from all 20 English top-flight clubs in the next week to discuss what options are available.

Kevin Miles, the FSF chief executive, told The Telegraph: "The FSF will be convening a meeting of representatives of supporters' organisations across the Premier League to discuss the next steps in the campaign.

"There are a number of options. The Liverpool walkout very successfully highlighted the whole issue of the affordability of football and the clubs need to be made to listen."

Last week, the FSF expressed bitter disappointment that Premier League clubs failed to back a measure to cap away ticket prices at their most recent meeting.

It is understood that, while no vote was taken on away tickets at Thursday's meeting of all the Premier League clubs, informal soundings were taken that made it clear the proposal would not receive the two-thirds majority required.

While a widespread walkout may be hard to achieve, the FSF has also called on frustrated fans to air their grievances with the clubs' sponsors, as many at Liverpool have done with Subway.

Meanwhile, Reds manager Juergen Klopp has said the club will heed "the sign" from Saturday's mass walkout at Anfield and that a compromise must be found over controversial new ticket prices.

He denied the current unrest threatens that ambition or supporters' love for the club, although he admitted: "Now I know it is my problem too."

The German was not at Saturday's Premier League fixture as he was undergoing emergency surgery on an appendix problem. But he said on Monday that he has sympathy with supporters and expects American-based owners Fenway Sports Group to find a solution.

"I've had a lot of things to do in the last few weeks, but now I know it is my problem too," he said. "Everyone in the club has a big interest in finding a solution for this.

"We don't want the people leaving the stadium before the game is finished."

The club, however, cancelled a question-and-answer session with chief executive Ian Ayre on Monday evening as the row over ticket prices continues.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, who joined the protest on Saturday, insists that £77 is too much to pay to watch a football match.

"People have said to me since then, 'It's okay for you on your big wages, that's why the prices are so high'," he wrote in his Daily Mail column. "I was paid well, yes, but I was there for 17 years and in comparison to some of the other players who were in that squad, it was fair.

"That's what you want ticket prices to be: fair.

"I know the plenty about my city - £77 is too much to watch a game anywhere but that price is particularly over the top in Liverpool."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2016, with the headline 'Fan clubs mull over walkout at games'. Print Edition | Subscribe