Liverpool and FSG set to close landmark deal, as new engagement offers new hope
Thinking back to April of this year, it’s hard to imagine the current situation could stem from such a bleak situation.
As the tweets all arrived on timelines synchronized with each other on a Sunday night, the face of football threatened to change forever like Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan have all declared their intention to overthrow the game by tradition and form a new league.
The Super League was marked. So great that hardly anyone in football except the money men detached from football fandom and reality thought it was a good idea.
It was self-interest that masqueraded as a great advantage for the game. This was quickly exposed, although Florentino Perez, Joan Laporta and Andrea Agnelli remain true to the fallacy, continuing to push their vision of a utopia. of football which is prohibited to the vast majority of clubs and seeks to stifle aspirations.
John Henry came out the day after the Super League announcement to apologize. Shot in the bowels of Fenway Park in Boston as anger raged across the Atlantic, the FSG supremo took responsibility for the move, saying he and he alone was responsible.
Back in Liverpool, the rise of the Super League had caught even those inside the organization off guard. It was not expected, although the anger and fallout that came with it was fully expected. A club that has such traditions and carries values of inclusiveness, collectivism and grassroots socialism had found its name dragged in the mud.
Experts and commentators have said there will be no return for FSG and Henry at Liverpool. After the flashback on ticket prices, the trademark LFC name and staff on leave, this was considered one too many miscalculations.
The days and weeks that followed saw action taken to try to find some kind of a way forward out of the wreckage of the Super League and find ways to mend the trust that had been shattered to pieces.
The Liverpool fan group Spirit of Shankly took the fight and challenged Liverpool. They sought answers and assurances about the future and demanded that fans have a voice within the football club to prevent this kind of thing from happening again, or at least to ensure that the supporters have the last. word on the issues that threatened to affect tradition in such a damaging way.
Spirit of Shankly met Liverpool and FSG at local and board level, with Henry and Tom Werner et al involved in the dialogue. Talks have been going on for months and there had been few signs of white smoke after initial meetings with Liverpool CEO Billy Hogan and local club and FSG representatives were called “positive”.
But now the club and Spirit of Shankly are in a position to move forward with plans that would pave the way for fan engagement at big clubs and provide a plan for others to follow in the wake of the fan-led review of Tracey Crouch MP in the State of English Football, which has paid particular attention to increasing fan representation and giving them more voice in the wake of the Super League debacle.
Spirit of Shankly has partnered with other Liverpool supporter organizations such as Kop Outs, Spion Kop 1906, Liverpool Disabled Supporters Union, the official Liverpool Supporters Committee, the Liverpool Women’s Supporters Committee, and faith and ethnic groups. There will be a fan council made up of 16 members from all of these groups who will need to be consulted and who will need to give their consent to Liverpool and the FSG to take action such as joining a Super League in the future or leaving Anfield.
It would also be legally binding, enshrined in the club’s statutes, meaning it would remain in place even when FSG leaves the club, being part of any business transfer.
“I think the video contrition is sometimes hard to interpret, it can feel a bit hollow and insincere,” said Joe Blott, president of Spirit of Shankly.
“It was important that we meet with the FSG board members, which we did, so that we could really share our thoughts and they understand our position and come back with a perspective on what we are doing. said as opposed to what they said.
“The contrition, I think, was real. The solution for Chelsea and Man City was to put a fan on the board, and that sort of thing calmed things down. FSG went further than that. They could have said ‘let’s say’ a fan on the set ”but they didn’t, they wanted to negotiate and create a model that works for Liverpool but is also a model for the rest of the pyramid.
“That’s what we asked from the start. We told them they broke so badly that the fan base showed their displeasure with what you did with the Super League. There was a way to to fix it or a way to break it.
“We saw what United did, get the game canceled etc. Are the talks further along? Yes, but it was torture, it was difficult. I hope the FSG will not only understand nature not only of football but also of our football club: it is about values, supporters, collectivism, unity.
“They often use them in marketing, but you have to live with them. You can’t turn them on and off. In April they turned some of them off but they turned them back on and that’s why we got the agreement we have. “
Out of nowhere, we at least found common ground.
It is always very difficult to expect Liverpool fans to forgive and simply forget. What happened during the Super League and the way it went was a shame. It has damaged the reputation of Liverpool and the FSG.
But at a time when Liverpool have grown into a global brand with millions of fans around the world, it’s a move that at least provides a decent demonstration that Henry’s contrition was real.
After all, taking a Super League off the table means the FSG is imposing certain restrictions on itself as a company. The commitment to make this deal suggests that there is something left that FSG is committed to and is willing to try and build bridges.
For some, increased spending on transfers is the only way to show commitment. But in reality this approach has never changed, it has been the same since the FSG came in and it is an approach they have been candid about in the past. The value of the structure in place means that the sweeping and indiscriminate moves in the transfer market that Manchester United are committed to that have yielded almost no silverware does not fit the philosophy.
At least it’s a commitment to people and tradition. And while that may not be enough to squeeze the FSG’s reputation from the fire for some, for others it may at least show them that they “get”, that they understand where the Liverpool fans are coming from and where they are from. unique nature of football. club and the values that are so dear to them.
But this needs to be done alongside a strategy, which includes financial investments, which allows Liverpool to rise to the challenge year after year at the top for the biggest prizes. What matters are the Premier League and Champions League titles, not the Super League. Hopefully this is a commitment in this regard.