Dear Chief Constable, Mr Moore and Ms Barrett-Baxendale,
On 12 December 2019, representatives from Spirit of Shankly, the Blue Union (and other Everton fan groups) met with representatives from Merseyside Police and both Liverpool and Everton football clubs. This was a debriefing following the previous week’s Derby match at Anfield which had caused some problems for Everton fans accessing the stadium.
Fan groups expressed their dismay at the lack of formal engagement, as has been the norm, prior to that game with just an email being sent to all parties suggesting issues be raised via email.
At the meeting, fan groups specifically requested a formal meeting be held ahead of the FA Cup tie, announced that week, to be held on the weekend of 4 January 2020. Despite that request, no meeting was convened.
Instead decisions have been taken by Merseyside Police and the two football clubs with notification of those decisions being sent to fan representatives by email. This is unacceptable.
Indeed, the decisions taken also have to be questioned as to why and on what basis they have been taken.
Liverpool and Everton have met at Anfield in FA Cup ties before with the number of away fans increasing in proportion to the capacity without the need to close Anfield Road to Liverpool fans nor to publish a Section 34 dispersal notice in advance of the game being played. These actions are unprecedented and lead to wider implications. These implications include impact on the local community, the closure of the fan zone and the moving of the foodbank collections point. Wider implications include the view of football, Liverpool and Everton especially and the potential precedent for future matches between the clubs.
We are not naive to assume that no issues arise for the policing, stewarding and health and safety of such games however we are led to believe there were just two arrests at the last game, neither for fan on fan issues, attended by over 54000 fans.
The changes made for this game appear to us to be heavy handed, disproportionate and out of touch with the reality of the overwhelming majority of Liverpool and Everton match going fans.
All of this could and should have been discussed and debated in what had been up until recently, the tried and trusted way of engaging with fans beforehand.
We formally request that the formal discussions with fans be reintroduced beginning with a debriefing on this particular fixture and that should a Section 34 dispersal notice be considered again then ensure fan groups are consulted with first and remind you that in this country, we still have policing by consent.
Blue Union and Spirit of Shankly