Martin, you can do the minutes

The Spirit of Shankly can confirm that their members’ hard work in pressurising the Premier League to consider Liverpool FC’s current predicament has paid off with Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, inviting a delegation from the Spirit of Shankly to a meeting with him at Premier League Headquarters in London next week.

This contrasts markedly with the response received from Liverpool FC Chairman Martin Broughton, who was written to on the 22nd April (letter below) with a request for the Union to meet with him to discuss the issues that arose from his appointment. Despite speaking to his office at British Airways Headquarters and receiving confirmation that he had received our letter we have had neither the courtesy of an acknowledgement or response.

The only feedback we have received is via Liverpool FC Commercial Director Ian Ayre who has said that Mr Broughton has decided to respond to fans “en masse” rather than having “individual meetings”. How is he planning to do this? It would seem via the testing medium of a set piece interview on LFC TV. The Union has asked to be allowed to take part in the questioning but is yet to receive a response and suspects it unlikely that we would be allowed to officially participate.

The Spirit of Shankly is making a further attempt to speak to Mr Broughton by calling upon him to reconsider. The Union represents a significant number of LFC supporters and the Club’s credibility in liaising with supporters is being damaged through his refusal to engage.

While we understand his reluctance to meet based upon briefings he has no doubt received from other senior members of the Club he might be surprised that his objectives and ours may be closer than he thinks and, as we say above, Martin, you can do the minutes.

Letter to Martin Broughton

Dear Mr Broughton,

Liverpool Football Club

I am writing on behalf of the Spirit of Shankly Liverpool Supporters’ Union. While supporters have cautiously welcomed the news that current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett have decided to publicly place the Club up for sale and to appoint you to manage that process, it leaves many questions and concerns unanswered.
The Spirit of Shankly Liverpool Supporters’ Union was established to meet a number of short, medium and long term objectives but to constantly hold whoever owns Liverpool Football Club to account. In the last two years this has resulted in the Union managing, and coordinating, a sustained campaign and protests to see Hicks and Gillett removed as owners, due to the way in which they have brought the Club to the brink of financial disaster for no one’s benefit other than their own.

The Union has had contact with the Club at all levels – we have coordinated protests with the stewards and police, met with the manager, had players attend our End of Season events and we have met with Gillett and the Hicks’ family and subsequently with Ian Ayre and Christian Purslow.

In all of our dealings with the Club our aim has been to represent the interests of our members while respecting the opportunities we have been given in terms of access to Club employees. The contact we have had with senior staff has been helpful, not only to the Union and its members, but also to the Club in projecting a perception that supporters are respected and have a voice that is at least heard within the Club.

The only problem we have ever had with senior staff at the Club was a meeting in February 2010 with Christian Purslow where he subsequently sought to significantly misrepresent Minutes of the meeting (contradicting the recollection of fifteen other people attending the meeting and the verbatim record that exists). The result of this is that Mr Purslow seems to have unilaterally decided to cease contact with us to the detriment, we believe, of supporters and the Club.

Our concerns centre on a few major issues and there are questions we wish to ask you to answer at a meeting with us:

  1. What was the motivation for your appointment? Who appointed you? What is your role and your objectives?
  2. Who is running the Club on a day to day basis?
  3. What role did the Club’s bankers play in the sale decision and what conditions have they placed upon a sale relating to time and any terms?
  4. What criteria, other than the asking price, will you apply in accepting any bid?
  5. What are the immediate implications for the team on the pitch and the urgent squad strengthening called for by the playing staff?
  6. Would you speak to supporters’ representatives about a stake being taken in the Club by them? If not, why not?
  7. Would you broker meetings between the Union and any serious prospective purchasers PRIOR to any sale being confirmed (we would appreciate the need for discretion).

The next few months are a key time for the Club and supporters are naturally concerned about the future and how this impacts on the Club’s financial position and, as importantly, the on the field progress supporters hope to see. You clearly have a key role to play in this period and we would respectfully request an early meeting with you to discuss some key issues and to also consider an element of conciliation between you (representing the owners) and supporters.

We are pleased that our “Not Welcome Here” campaign¬†has made a contribution to Hicks and Gillett leaving but we are also prepared to consider any positive proposals you might have that we could put to our members to see protests suspended. As supporters we want to see an end to uncertainty and to get back to what we all want to do – support our side on the pitch without the worry of the intentions of any future owners and what they have in store for us.
We hope that your appointment will see a change in our fortunes going forward and we are writing to you in the spirit of working with you for the good of Liverpool FC and its supporters.

Yours sincerely

Francis Stanton
Spirit of Shankly

PS It was over the line.