Liverpool to hold talks with fans to repair damage following European Super League fiasco

Liverpool are to hold talks with the club’s most prominent supporters’ group on Tuesday in an effort to repair trust in the aftermath of the Super League fiasco.

Anfield chief executive Billy Hogan will meet four leading members Spirit of Shankly (SOS) amid increasing calls for owners Fenway Sports Group to appoint a fans’ representative to the board.

The meeting is a direct consequence of criticism of FSG and principal owner John W Henry after Liverpool became one of the chief protagonists in the plot to breakaway from the Uefa Champions League. 

Henry was forced into a u-turn and video apology after misreading the strength of feeling of Liverpool fans, players and coaching staff on the issue. That did not immediately appease SOS who accused the Liverpool owner of ‘crocodile tears’. The scheduling of the meeting pre-dates Sunday’s events at Old Trafford, when Manchester United fans forced the postponement of their Premier League game with Liverpool.

Despite criticism of FSG’s role in the plot, a distinction can be made between Liverpool fans’ broader view of the owners when compared to United’s long-standing grievances against the Glazer family, and the rising discontent at Arsenal over the reign of Stan Kroenke. Liverpool’s supporters’ group has not followed United and Arsenal fans in demanding their American owners sell-up, a ballot of opinion favouring greater engagement with fans rather than the sale of the club.

Among SOS members, 89 per cent favoured ongoing discussions with FSG in the hope of easing lingering tensions. Liverpool’s home fixture with Newcastle United which immediately followed the collapse of the Super League proposals did not see widespread protests, nor the need for additional security at Anfield or in and around the training headquarters in Kirkby.

Tuesday’s summit was initiated by Liverpool, and will be held amid Covid restrictions. Hogan wrote to SOS via email last week and stated he was reaching out in recognition of ‘the seriousness with which we are taking the current situation’. Hogan also acknowledged ‘the need for positive, meaningful change to occur’.

The CEO will be joined by other Anfield officials as the club looks to mend some of the damage and avoid similar occurrences of the club’s hierarchy misjudging the mood of its fanbase. The Super League debacle was the latest in a series of avoidable misjudgements following the club’s failure to raise ticket prices to £77 in 2016, which led to a mass walk-out in the 77th minute of a Premier League game with Sunderland, and the aborted attempt to furlough non-playing club staff last summer.

SOS are among the numerous independent supporters groups demanding reform of English football, with Tracey Crouch MP leading the government’s fan-led review and will be asking Liverpool to get on board that process.

More Stories
Keir Starmer drinks beer on visit to brewery as Labour-run Welsh government keeps pubs shut