James Pearce has stated in The Athletic that Spirit of Shankly’s opening meeting with CEO Billy Hogan was “positive”, with the supporters union listing four demands.
This follows a failed move on the part of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ sides to form a European Super League after the footballing world made clear its distaste of the coup.
1) “Two SOS representatives at LFC board level in relation to issues that impact fans and the Anfield community as a whole. This would involve a reconstitution of the LFC board that includes effective, elected and accountable fan representation, and not for members of the current LFC board to be that elected representative. This cannot be token representation, but one that has the ‘golden share’ or veto on the decision-making process. We believe this is desirable, practical and achievable both in the short and long-term.
2) “A formal agreement between LFC and Athletic Grounds Ltd and SOS in order to improve collaboration and supporter engagement and involvement, and to ensure this is sustainable for the future.
3) “FSG and LFC collaborate with SOS to lead the reform agenda ahead of/in conjunction with the national fan-led review.
4) “We also asked for a commitment from FSG that any costs incurred in relation to the creation of and withdrawal from the European Super League will be funded solely by the owners and not by the club. We note that the Kroenke family have already made this commitment to Arsenal FC fans.”
It’s as of yet unclear whether such encouraging talks will go a step further, let alone the full nine yards to meet all of the stated requests, however, the coming weeks will undoubtedly offer answers as to how committed the owners are to restoring a relationship with the fans.
“Hogan’s willingness to meet with them is an important step forward but it remains to be seen how receptive the FSG hierarchy of Henry, Tom Werner and Mike Gordon are to the fans’ wishes,” the journalist added.
“Tuesday’s meeting was scheduled prior to Sunday’s events at Old Trafford when protesting Manchester United fans forced the postponement of their Premier League fixture with Liverpool.
“Armed with the fans’ requests, Hogan will now discuss the club’s options with Gordon, who is responsible for the day to day running of Liverpool. Another meeting with SOS is set to be scheduled for either late this week or early next week.
“Unlike United and Arsenal fans, SOS haven’t called for their American owners to sell up. A ballot among SOS members resulted in some 89 per cent saying they favoured ongoing discussions with FSG in the hope of easing tensions.”
Relations between the supporters and FSG are undeniably at an all-time low, dragging many onto the anti-FSG bandwagon as calls for mass reform in football continue to grow.
The aforementioned meeting, not to mention John W. Henry’s earlier apology, is still important and represents a step in the right direction as the Americans hope to rebuild a workable relationship with fans once more.
The demands made by Spirit of Shankly, which would go some way in furthering this objective, are hardly the most unreasonable, though it will be a telling first hurdle for FSG to crumble before ahead of general discussions across the league to integrate fan representation.
To our owners’ credit, they have always admitted wrongdoing, but a bigger commitment than words is now required here.