Liverpool seek to build bridges with fans in ticket price increase row

Liverpool fans sent out a clear message to the Anfield hierarchy ahead of their side's Europa League defeat by Atalanta - Liverpool seek to build bridges with fans in ticket price increase row

Liverpool will meet with the club’s supporters board on Saturday in an attempt to build bridges in the aftermath of the protest which led to the removal of flags from the Kop during the European defeat to Atalanta.

The fans’ group Spion Kop 1906 ensured the Kop was bereft of its usual colour as Liverpool slumped to a 3-0 defeat. A similar stance in response to a 2 per cent rise next season is planned for the Premier League visit of Crystal Palace this weekend, with only those banners commemorating the 35th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster expected to unveiled.

Liverpool’s supporters’ board were not responsible for Thursday’s protest, but the outcome of the club’s meeting with its members may influence if the flags return this weekend.

The conversations between Liverpool and the supporters board will primarily focus on how the club defines ‘fan engagement’ ahead of major announcements.

Liverpool insist they informed the official fans group of their ticket pricing policy ahead of last week’s announcement. However, fans insist engagement means being part of a thorough consultation process rather than just being given advance warning of price rise announcements.

Flags and banners - Liverpool seek to build bridges with fans in ticket price increase row
Liverpool fans' flags and banners remained locked away for Thursday night's match - Getty Images/Robbie Jay Barratt

Since December, members of the supporters’ board have been part of a working group set up by Liverpool to look at a full ticketing strategy for the 2025-26 season.

However, the fans say the 2 per cent rise for next season was presented as a fait accompli to the supporters’ board a week before being made public. That has prompted the backlash.

Joe Blott, chairperson of the supporters’ board, said: “We have been working really hard to enhance the levels of engagement between the fans and the club, but when issues arise that question the meaningfulness of that engagement we have to challenge and ask questions of that.

“That is what the supporters’ board will do and, hopefully, we get back to moving forward with a long-term planned strategy for ticketing at the football club.”

The impact of the lack of flags was certainly noticeable in the 3-0 defeat to the Italian side in the Europa League quarter-final, first leg. As a Kop spectacle and in terms of noise level there was a major contrast in the atmosphere between that fixture and the last time Jürgen Klopp led Liverpool to that stage of the competition against Borussia Dortmund in 2016.

‘We need them aggressive, fit, angry, full of desire’

That cannot deflect attention from the real problem which was the team’s performance, however, and Klopp has demanded a reaction to ensure there is no impact on title ambitions, calling for ‘anger’ from his player to make amends.

“We need them all, and we need them all aggressive, fit, going for it, a bit angry, full of desire and stuff like this and not so much dealing with your own situation [thinking], ‘I have no rhythm, I haven’t played for ages,’” said Klopp.

“The good thing about really bad performances is that it is easy to play better, so we should start from there. This must feel bad and it does, and then we come together and the boys will start to recover and we go from there.

“Yes, we have to show a reaction, definitely, 100 per cent. That is clear. “It is not the first time in my life that I lost a football game, unfortunately. Yes we will show a reaction, I can promise.”

Klopp can at least call on more senior players, with Diogo Jota pushing for a recall following his cameo appearance and Curtis Jones building his fitness.

“Diogo was absolutely fine. The 20-25 minutes helped him a lot and we will see what we can do from there,” said Klopp.

“You saw Curtis who for the majority of the season was the fittest player and pressed like crazy over 90 minutes. After 20-minutes [against Atalanta] he was a little bit surprised and I was surprised, ‘oh he feels the intensity already.’ That is why we made the change at half-time.”