Liverpool: U.S. owners bow to fan pressure over ticket prices

    Story highlights

    • Liverpool's U.S. owners backtrack on a spike in ticket prices after fan protest
    • English Premier League club's fan walked out in recent game
    • American owners apologize for any distress caused

    (CNN)After soccer fans voted with their feet, English Premier League giant Liverpool's American owners have been forced to backtrack.

    Fenway Sports Group (FSG), which owns the Boston Red Sox as well as the Merseyside club, have been pressured into a very public climbdown over a proposed ticket price rise following an angry fans' protest.
      When Liverpool announced the best seats in its new main stand would be £77 ($111) from next season, fans responded with a mass walk out in its most recent league match that involved an estimated 10,000 fans.
      Those fans were enraged over the price rise given all 20 of England's top flight clubs are set to share an estimated $11.5 billion windfall next season from bumper domestic and overseas television deals.
      In an open letter published on its official website, Liverpool's principal owner John W. Henry, chairman Tom Werner and FSG president Mike Gordon called the furore "tumultuous."
      "The three of us have been 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," read the letter. "Quite the opposite is true."
      "A great many of you have objected strongly to the £77 price level of our most expensive GA seats and expressed a clear expectation that the club should forgo any increased revenue from raising prices on GA tickets in the current environment. Message received."
      In the letter, FSG announced its highest ticket price would remain at £59 ($85) and that its most expensive season ticket would remain at the existing rate for another two years.
      Earlier in the week, Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp had urged the club to find a solution.
      "We believe we have demonstrated a willingness to listen carefully, reconsider our position, and act decisively," the statement continued.
      "The unique and sacred relationship between Liverpool Football Club and its supporters has always been foremost in our minds. It represents the heartbeat of this extraordinary football club."
      Ticket prices have been a hot topic in English football since details of the Premier League's huge broadcasting deals emerged in February last year.
      The domestic rights were sold for £5.1 billion ($7.3 billion) -- a 71% increase on the previous deal -- with a further estimated £3 billion ($4.3 billion) raised from overseas television sales.
      Some clubs have opted to freeze ticket prices for next season but supporters claim prices at some clubs are still prohibitive.
      Arsenal has the most expensive season ticket coming in at over £2,000 ($2,892). Its most expensive match ticket is £97 ($140).
      Season ticket holders recently protested at having to pay a surcharge of £30 (£43) because the club reached the last 16 of the European Champions League.
      In October, supporters of German champions Bayern Munich staged a protest at having to pay £64 ($92) a ticket to watch its team at Arsenal, unfurling a banner that read: "£64 a ticket. But without fans football is not worth a penny."
      Fans of Borussia Dortmund interrupted its German Cup quarterfinal with Stuttgart Tuesday by throwing tennis balls onto the pitch in protest at rising prices.
      Even though Liverpool has reversed its decision, fans' groups have said they will continue to fight to make football more affordable for supporters, especially over the prices clubs charge away supporters at matches.