English Premier League football club Liverpool is to begin looking into ways of allowing young people to sit together at Anfield on matchdays at the request of the club’s new ticket availability forum.
The first idea was to create a seated area where children can congregate with parents and guardians seated around them, rather than next to them.
The second was to designate a section on the Kop stand where young adults, who want to drive atmosphere, can sit together.
Both ideas were welcomed by the club officials present and will be examined as part of an ongoing review into ticketing issues.
Phil Dutton, Liverpool’s head of ticketing and hospitality, admitted that both suggestions are not without challenges, particularly as each would require existing season ticket holders to accept their seats being moved.
The inaugural meeting of the forum discussed a wide range of issues relating to three main agenda topics – the members sale, away tickets and young supporters.
Attended by eight forum members, either in person or via conference call, and six representatives from the club, including chief executive Peter Moore.
A presentation by Paul Milne, Liverpool’s safeguarding and assurance manager, outlined the challenges faced by all Premier League clubs when it comes to safeguarding children and explained why Liverpool do not allow unaccompanied children under the age of 16 to attend games.
Forum members went on to declare that the club needs to be more imaginative and creative when it comes to allowing children and young people to sit together, as it could have a positive effect on the atmosphere at Anfield.
“This was the first meeting of the five forums and it was a really positive start,” said Tony Barrett, Liverpool’s head of club and supporter liaison. “The contributions from all of the forum members were challenging, as they should be, but also highly considered with a range of ideas put forward and discussed which the club will now look into. It is important to reiterate that this is just the start and the initial aim of opening up communication has been achieved but there is no question that this remains a work in progress.”
Away tickets were also a topic for discussion, with the forum mainly talking about what the club can do to prevent sales from becoming a “closed shop” as a result of the loyalty system that is currently in place.
The club put forward the suggestion that one way of dealing with abuse of the current away ticketing system is for ticket collections to be held at away venues for a limited number of randomly selected fans.
As part of the ongoing ticketing review, Dutton said the club wants to understand how supporters want the members sale to work but stressed that: “We cannot have a closed shop, we have to give people the opportunity to buy tickets but at the same time we also have to reward loyalty.”
Image: Ben Sutherland