Football Supporters – Not the Khmer Rouge
A document that Spirit of Shankly has been aware of for some time has surfaced on the internet, making several references to us as an organisation, members of our Management Committee and members of the Union.
This document, which can be seen here, was allegedly written in the summer of 2010 by Paul Tyrrell, former Head of Press at LFC. It makes several outlandish claims, as well as a number of offensive ones.
One such claim suggests Spirit Of Shankly is “the sporting version of the Khmer Rouge”. Just how does a campaign by ordinary supporters to remove owners who took our football club to the brink of administration equate, in the minds of a Liverpool FC employee, to a notoriously murderous regime? To be viewed as such has left us scratching our heads and bemused as to the thought process behind such a statement.
The author of the document seems to have employed a great deal of detective prowess and skill to uncover the fact that the Union is an advocate of supporter ownership. We could have saved the author a lot of time – that supporter ownership is our ultimate aim is stated clearly on our website. Running a football club “for the supporters, by the supporters” is hardly something that conjures up images of Pol Pot’s “Year Zero”. If it is, someone clearly forgot to tell the global audience viewing last Saturday’s Champions League Final.
The ultimate irony, in a document addressed to senior members of the wholly discredited Hicks & Gillett regime, is a reference to Spirit of Shankly’s “attempts to undermine the club”. The author fails to make the vital distinction that defined the Spirit of Shankly campaign – while we were very much, and justifiably, anti Hicks and Gillett, we have always been staunch supporters of Liverpool Football Club.
What the document suggests to us is a willingness on the part of the the author and other individuals, close to and inside Liverpool Football Club at the time, to denigrate and marginalise ordinary supporters in order to ingratiate themselves to the very people who threatened its future. The author may wish to consider, who are those still supporting the club week in, week out and where Hicks, Gillett, Broughton & Purslow, and indeed himself, are when Liverpool take to the pitch these days?
The existence of a blacklist preventing those named from appearing on any Liverpool FC media, shows a real fear of supporters and their voice. What runs through the document is a paranoia that feeds the lies and untruths that are being told. We can only surmise about the motivation behind the commissioning of such a document, especially when the Spirit of Shankly Chair was in regular contact with club MD Christian Purslow at the time and would have answered any questions regarding the Union’s objectives and affiliations openly and honestly at any juncture.
For some, being named in the document will be damaging, embarrassing and, very likely, incredible. However for others who were used to being labelled as “militants” and “sons of strikers” by those inside the Club at the time it serves as a reminder – that we matter. So much so, they had to get someone to ‘write a story’ about us!