In a historic vote by members of the Liverpool Supporters Trust, Spirit of Shankly, fans have voted by a margin of 94.44% in favour of plans for greater supporter participation in decision making at Anfield.
An astonishing 68.39% of members took part in the ballot, which asked them to vote on proposals agreed between the Trust and representatives of the Liverpool board, including CEO Billy Hogan. Spirit of Shankly were recommending acceptance of the plans, which included the following:
- The establishment of a Supporters Board, which would be written into the club’s regulations making it a legally binding agreement. SOS will be head of this board.
- A formal recognition agreement between SOS and LFC, which would be written into the club’s constitution so that if / when the ownership changes, this contract will remain in place.
- Collaboration between SOS and FSG on the government’s fan-led review to improve the future of the game.
- Club owners Fenway Sports Group to meet any costs as a result of the European Super League, not the club.
- A representative of the Supporters Board will meet annually with Liverpool’s board of directors to consult on issues pertinent to fans. Outside of this, if an agreed consultation matter is to be discussed at an LFC board meeting, the chair of the Supporters Board will be present.
- Supporters Board representatives to have a term of two years and be chosen as the result of a democratic vote.
- The proposals would constitute the Supporters Board led by SOS as a recognised legal body and ensures that the Liverpool board would be contractually obliged to consult with supporters representatives.
What followed was a period of consultation with members of the supporters’ trust, which involved a virtual meeting in which attendees could see the proposals in detail and ask questions. This meeting was then put online so that those unable to attend could watch, along with a published Q&A on the Spirit of Shankly website.
Supporters were then invited to vote to either accept or reject the proposals.
It has now been revealed that plans for greater supporter participation at the very top of the Anfield hierarchy have received a resounding vote of confidence from supporters.
Expressing his delight at the result, Spirit of Shankly Chair, Joe Blott, told This is Anfield: “Firstly I want to thank everyone who took the time to vote in our recent ballot. An incredible 99.44% of our members voted in favour of our proposal and the turnout was 68.39 per cent.”
These are truly astonishing numbers and demonstrate the enthusiasm with which the plans have been greeted by supporters. But what next, when will we see the new arrangements put in place?
Clearly there is more work to be done in this respect and talks with Liverpool officials will continue. Blott is clear that there is still work to do, but feels that the union has been given a huge mandate, empowering them to move forward.
“Thanks to supporters giving us such a firm mandate, we are now empowered to step up our work with the club’s Board of Directors and our engagement with representatives of other supporters groups,” explained Blott.
“Our vision of improved supporter engagement, enshrined in the Club’s Articles of Association and contractually binding between all parties is now a step closer.”
This represents something of a watershed moment for Spirit of Shankly, who have now racked up more than a decade of campaigning for supporters rights.
Their work spans two ownerships and got underway during the catastrophic and ultimately doomed reign of Hicks and Gillett. They have also been at the forefront of recent campaigns to end food poverty and against the club’s plans to increase ticket prices, trademark the word Liverpool when used in a football context, and of course opposition to the failed European Super League proposals.
However, it is now hoped that this announcement heralds the beginning of a new era of relations between supporters and the club – one in which the ‘mistakes’ of recent times are consigned to history.
This of course remains to be seen, but the union will claim with some justification that they have now amply demonstrated the power and value of unity, organisation and collective action and that there has never been a better time to join Spirit of Shankly.