Liverpool is determined to reduce the number of unused tickets after a fan-led outcry over empty seats at its Anfield home ground.
The English Premier League club held the first meeting of the local supporters’ forum ahead of its 4-3 victory over leaders Manchester City on Sunday.
At the meeting, club officials said Liverpool are looking into ways to ensure that the approximately 2,000 seats which are sold but left empty on matchdays, are filled, while also considering a season ticket amnesty.
Phil Dutton, Liverpool’s head of ticketing and hospitality, said: “Our fill rate (the number of seats that are used on a matchday) is around 94 per cent, but our sales rate (the number of seats sold) is around 99.6 per cent with the 0.4 per cent being unsold visitor tickets or changes to segregation etc. Every available home seat is sold.
“This is an obvious problem and, like everyone else, I get incredibly frustrated when I see seats left empty at Anfield because I know there are so many people who would readily fill them.”
It was suggested in the forum that local children could turn up at Anfield to fill the 2,000 empty seats. However, Dutton states that while the idea is well-meaning, it is impractical.
Dutton added that it would be neither pragmatic nor safe to have hundreds of children waiting outside a stadium in the hope that they might get a ticket at an unspecified time. He also said that because the problem involves individual seats being left empty, it would not be suitable for schools that require tickets in groups to allow teachers and pupils to attend together.
Ian Byrne, the Spirit Of Shankly (SOS) delegate, suggested that the club should become more flexible in its approach to ticketing and should be willing to offer fan groups such as SOS and Spion Kop 1906 the opportunity to identify supporters who could take advantage at short notice.
Dutton said that the ultimate responsibility for the “use of any spare tickets needs to sit with the club.”
Dutton added: “We need to improve the platform for supporters to use in relation to this matter but we also need people to talk to us.
“If someone knows in advance of a game that they aren’t going to make it then if they let us know we can do something about it.
“If they don’t tell us then the problem doesn’t go away because we can’t give a supporter’s seat to someone else if they’re not in it by 10 past three because there’s a risk that the original ticket holder could turn up at quarter past three.”