Jürgen Klopp has said Liverpool will heed “the sign” from Saturday’s mass walkout at Anfield and that a compromise must be found over the club’s controversial new ticket prices. Liverpool’s under-fire owners, Fenway Sports Group, are continuing discussions with senior management over a response to the Anfield protest and the threat of further action from supporters who are angered at next season’s hike in ticket prices.
Klopp, who missed Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland and the walkout due to an operation to remove his appendix, added his voice to the debate when he returned to work on Monday and insisted the club are trying to find a solution. The Liverpool manager has placed great store on building a close bond between the club and supporters during his brief reign.
He denied the current unrest threatens that ambition or supporters’ love for the club, although admitted: “Now I know it is my problem too.” And Klopp claimed the exodus at Anfield had achieved its aim of alerting FSG to the depth of anger over the new ticket price structure, with some seats in the redeveloped Main Stand next season costing £77.
“I’m not worried, no,” he said of Liverpool’s relationship with their supporters. “There is always a reason for a situation like there was on Saturday. It was not a situation where one game you have 40,000, the next 39,000, the next 38,000, 37, 36 and so on. But it was a sign on Saturday and I think it was easy to understand. That is the good thing with signs. Now we have to talk about it. This club is a really big club that has faced a few difficult situations in the history of Liverpool FC.
“These other problems were bigger than the problem we have in this moment but supporters never ever lost their love of the club and that will not happen now. We have our job to do on the pitch which is easier to help people enjoy the game, we will try, and I know the owners are really interested in having a good relationship with our supporters. In the moment, we understood the sign, I think, and now we look for a solution.” Klopp spent most of the weekend at Aintree Hospital, where the surgeon who removed his appendix was a Liverpool season-ticket holder who advised him against watching the latter stages of the draw with Sunderland. As a result, the manager was reluctant to go into detail about the ticket controversy but insisted a compromise had to be found for the good of the club.
He added: “The situation for the fans at this moment is not too easy. The situation in the table is not too easy and you have to think about other things that are not only about football. Our job is to make it easier for them to think about the positive side of football. We all love this game for different reasons, it is a great game to watch, a great game to play, all these things, but I don’t think it is a strange time – I think this is the situation throughout the whole world. We have to talk and find solutions that everybody wants.
“It is really rare that you find a solution where everybody says “Yes!” – you have to make compromises, that’s how it is – but what can I say now? I’ve just come from a deep sleep, I woke up in the 78th minute or something like this, and I need more information to talk about all this. It has not been possible for me to get all the information before now.”
Liverpool cancelled a planned Q&A with the chief executive Ian Ayre over the tickets on Monday, scheduled to be televised on the club’s own channel, while John Pugh, the MP for Southport and a Liverpool fan, has tabled an early-day motion backing the protesting fans. The Football Supporters Federation has also called on frustrated fans to air their grievances with club’s sponsors, as many at Liverpool have done with Subway.
Klopp was speaking before Tuesday’s FA Cup fourth-round replay at West Ham United, where Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi could all return following lengthy injury layoffs, and denied Liverpool’s late collapse against Sunderland was connected to the walkout.
“No, that is absolutely not allowed,” he added. “I saw the reasons on the pitch and they had nothing to do with it. It was a completely different situation to what we spoke about a few months ago. In my position I have only a few words on this but we have to really think about it and to have talks. I know Ian Ayre has already had some talks but we are in contact and that is very important. We are really interested in finding a solution and that is how it should be. We should talk about this, with as much people as possible, and hopefully in the end find a solution that everyone can be satisfied with.”
Cameron Brannagan, the 19-year-old midfielder who performed so well in the goalless draw against West Ham at Anfield, will miss the replay through illness while Dejan Lovren and Joe Allen will be sidelined by hamstring injuries. The pair have yet to discover the full extent of the problems they sustained against Sunderland.