Abdication of leadership by Premier League and Liverpool FC

The playing of the national anthem before the match at Anfield on Saturday was met with a cacophony of disapproval, boos morphing into chants of Liverpool and eventually, after its abandonment, You’ll Never Walk Alone.

There will have been some who didn’t voice condemnation, but the majority did. And the Anfield crowd’s reaction will have surprised nobody. So why did the hierarchy of Liverpool FC decide to play it? 

The club were left in a near-impossible situation. There was no mandate from the Premier League, just a “strong ‘suggestion” to play the anthem, and they must bear responsibility too. They are part of a working group to tackle tragedy chanting and have now potentially destroyed the good work done to this point by capitulating to pressure from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport with their “suggestion”.

So, LFC were damned if they did, damned if they didn’t, but they, with the PL,  knew what would happen and they also knew the consequences – the predictable, hateful bile regarding Hillsborough would be re-ignited all over social media.

It was hoped that the amazing collective efforts with Nottingham Forest and Leeds supporters over the past few weeks would be the start of a change in attitude from those quick to chant about Hillsborough and other tragedies. Unfortunately, the club’s insistence on playing it will, it seems, lead undoubtedly to an increase in hate chanting in the future.

Yet again survivors and the families and friends of the 97 people unlawfully killed at Hillsborough are subjected to a despicable backlash.

There is no logical step to the reprehensible trolling, but everyone connected to LFC knew it would happen. LFC could have and should have made the alternate decision and not played it.