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01:56 AM | Mon, 24 Oct 2016

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Head-burying is in Full Swing After Liverpool Walkout

258 Days ago
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ANFIELD: Liverpool's owners will consider a review of their controversial new ticketing policy after the mass walkout of supporters during the Premier League fixture with Sunderland on Saturday.Fenway Sports Group, the club's owner, held emergency talks at boardroom level in the immediate aftermath of the unprecedented scenes in the 77th minute at Anfield. Those conversations began on Saturday evening, continued throughout yesterday with senior management in Liverpool and will continue into this week to establish if a restructuring of the proposed ticket strategy is feasible.The club are now under increasing pressure to act having been warned by supporters' groups the protest held this weekend is merely the first stage in what would be a series of coordinated responses should their concerns not be met Supporters have already started to target some sponsors, with club partner Subway among those in the firing line via social media.Fenway management including the president, Michael Gordon, and the chairman, Tom Werner, were involved throughout the 13-month discourse on ticket prices and are ready to intervene again, although it remains unclear what - if any - concessions they intend to make While Liverpool prepare a response, across football a head-burying exercise is in full swing.The Premier League executives - of whom the top seven from 20 clubs blocked a proposal to cap the cost of away tickets to pounds 30 - bury their heads The Premier League footballers - who took pounds 828 million in wages out of the top tier of English football last season - bury their heads.The Professional Football Associa-tion, funded to the tune of pounds 17.3 million from Premier League broadcast revenue - who think it is fair for a pounds 250,000-a-week player to pay the same pounds 150-a-year subscription as a pounds 250-a-week player - bury their heads.Ex-players supporting alienated fans are less vocal on the PFA chairman Gordon Taylor handing himself a pay increase from pounds 1.4 million to almost pounds 3.4 million a year (a 140 per cent increase). On that they, too, will bury their heads The agents taking pounds 129.9 million in fees from the Premier League last season, without a single club iden-tifying who they are or which Cayman Islands account they might then be relocating it. They bury their heads, too.Can we shine the light on the agents? It might stop them dealing with your club and we cannot ignore the fact that they feed the transfer rumour mill that so obsesses us on deadline day. We will all bury our heads when demanding an extra pounds 5 million is added to the bid for the star player we crave.Those who say that a pounds 50,000-a-week salary increase to a star player is about 'market forces' and a club shows lack of ambition if they refuse to pay it. They will have to bury their heads, managers, whose pounds 7 million-a-year salaries are funded by inflation-busting price increases are told to bury their heads, prevented from addressing the issue in public. What would they say? Would English football attract world stars if it was no longer the most alluring and profitable whorehouse in Europe?The TV broadcasters, stealthily increasing subscription charges since buying English football in 1992 - using this to subsidise monstrous bids each time the hammer falls on the next Premier League auction. They bury their heads, interviewing fan groups about how they're being fleeced without a trace of irony. The next satellite TV increase is in the post.On the wheel spins - a cycle of cynical complicity - as premonitions of English football's bubble bursting are dismissed as misguided prophecies of doom because we pay. We all pay, and if we don't someone else in an emerging football market will. And then Liverpool fans unfurl a banner saying 'Enough is Enough' and walk out. With their recent experience of orchestrated protest and a social media savvy that must make every Premier League PR team blush, they enact their mobilization strategy and 10,000 head for the exit. Another 30,000 stayed but do not presume they were sup-porting ticket prices. They just wanted to watch the game they had paid for, although given what they witnessed in the last 13 minutes they must wish they had not.Those departing were decent fans, not revolutionaries, many of whom know their ticket will be the same price next season but are considering future generations. No matter how much they are told the number of cheaper seats in one area might outnumber the most expensive, their trust in Premier League accountancy ended 20 years ago.Board members at other clubs will pray this is a one-off, a regional eccentricity in a city where football and meaningful political expressions often walk side by side. They might be so deluded they will think what began here at Anfield will not spread. They will find they arewrong. When they have stopped burying their heads they will have to compromise. Otherwise, they will be left to do little more than hang them. In shame. Liverpool drew 2-2 with Sunderland: 2-0 up, they conceded two stupid goals. You might think this match report is not about the game. Read it again. Every word of it is.


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