An argument between one of the Kop’s flag wavers and a disabled fan led to the club’s unpopular proposals to introduce registration and accreditation for flag bearers, reports the Mirror.
It was revealed last week by the Spion Kop group that they were in discussions with Liverpool regarding the new proposals – with the club suggesting that only registered flag bearers would be able to wave banners before and after matches.
Naturally, it went down awfully with nearly all Liverpool fans who recognise that the various flags on the Kop are iconic and symbolic of our wonderful identity, and any legislative controlling of them by authorities would only worsen Anfield atmosphere.
The actual incident which has sparked the problem occurred during Steven Gerrard’s Anfield farewell versus Crystal Palace at the end of last season. Jonathan Poulter, 20, was charged with a public order offence after a disabled fan complained that he was blocking their view of the pitch. He denied charges and faces a trial in November – accused of using ‘threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress’.
Liverpool FC Disabled Supporters Association made an official complaint and an internal investigation is now underway.
A spokesman for the Spion Kop group, who co-ordinate the flag displays, reckons the proposed measures are unfair and has claimed the group doesn’t know arrested Poulter.
“The person in question is not a member of our group, although we do not have an official membership list.
“We’ve always been committed to working with our disabled supporters and we maintain an excellent working relationship with them, and really value everything they do to help us.”
David Smith, secretary of the Liverpool FC Disabled Supporters Association, said: “If flag waving is conducted properly, there isn’t a problem.”
It would be a crying shame if this seemingly isolated incident led to a ruling which affects the vast, vast majority of law-abiding Liverpool supporters on the Kop. Hopefully no draconian measures will be passed, and the two parties can find reasonable resolution that benefits all supporters but doesn’t diminish Kop traditions either.