Angry fans left high and dry by late European fixture change

Posted by Rushian on August 2, 2004, 12:00:52 PM

Many furious Reds have found themselves out of pocket today with the news that the first leg of the 3rd qualifying round Champions League qualifier against AK Graz has been switched to August 10th for the benefit of Austrian TV.

Well "news" is a bit of a misnomer in this case. There has been no announcement by LFC. A couple of fans have found out almost by accident this morning when ringing up regarding tickets. The only information LFC have provided so far was the confirmation of the dates last Friday.

LFC's 30th July confirmation of fixture dates

Liverpool have confirmed the dates for their third round Champions League qualifier with Austrian champions GAK. The first leg will take place in Graz, Austria, on Wednesday August 11, 2004. The kick off time for this first leg is still to be confirmed. The return leg will be played at Anfield on Tuesday August 24, 2004, kick off 8.10pm.

Fans have had problems in the past with fixture date changes due to TV/UEFA demands. As a result the club has been at pains to point out that no flights or hotels should be booked until the dates for European ties have been confirmed by LFC.

The dates were confirmed by the club on 30th July. Fans have since paid for flights, trains, hotels, car hire, booked holiday from work.

For anyone at the club in doubt of the definition of confirmed here's some help:

con·firm  (kn-fûrm)
tr.v. con·firmed, con·firm·ing, con·firms
1) To support or establish the certainty or validity of; verify.
2) To make valid or binding by a formal or legal act; ratify.

It's reassuring to know though that AK Graz are on the ball though, and have confirmed the date:

GAK website

CL-Quali: Dienstag, 10. 8. 2004, Beginn 20,45 Uhr

Once again it seems Liverpool fans are the last to know. Will the fans who have already booked be refunded the cost of changing flights for this lack of (some might even say mis) information (that is of course if they can find flights and hotels to change to)? Past experience suggests not.

However the club could make a first step towards improving the poor image they have with fans. LFC could come forward and offer free home and away tickets for the Graz games to all those fans who can prove they booked travel for the wrong dates before the change of date became known today. The club would then be helping out in a small way those fans who find themselves out of pocket.

It'd cost the club approximately £40 a head. At an estimate of 500 already booked independently would be a total cost of £20,000. As a club we spend over a million a week in wages. Surely such a positive gesture, and the publicity it'd generate, would be worth that small drop in the ocean of our overall revenue?

If instead fans get another lecture about not booking until dates are confirmed and taking their own risks by booking independently then the last slither of trust travelling Reds have with the club could be severed. These are the fans who stand in biblical downpours in Bucharest, travel to the back end of the earth to get to Vladikavkaz, get out to Porto at a week's notice. They epitomise much of the spirit that Shankly brought to the club. They shouldn't be treated shoddily like this. The club can and should be doing better.

We await the club's response with baited breath.

© RAWK 2004

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