Members presentation Q&A

These are the questions, and answers, received before, during and after the SOS members meeting on Tuesday 1 June 2021. Some were answered ‘live’ on the night, the others we are working through. We will continue to update this list over the next few days.

Representation / Supporters Board

In what format will the Supporters Board be set up: how many members, when and how often will they meet, will the meetings be instigated only as and when there are major issues to be raised and discussed?

SOS: These are still details to be discussed with the club and among the board once it has been created.

How will the Supporters Board report their activities and who will they report to? Who will hold them to account and what processes will be in place for changes to be made? Will there be an annual vote?

SOS: Details are to be ironed out, but we would expect an AGM as a minimum, terms of office to be agreed. Accountability etc is likely to be included in the terms of reference of the Board.

How will the opinions and thoughts of season-ticket holders be represented compared to the voices of fans from overseas and non-matchday going fans? Season-ticket holders are directly impacted by the decisions made by LFC, so should they be given a more prominent role in how the Supporters Board is elected and who its president should be?

SOS: Season-ticket holders are not of themselves a distinct group. They comprise people with additional needs, BAME groups, and other representative collectives. Their voices will be heard in line with those. In addition, the ticket-working group will look at all ticketing issues and report into the Supporters Board. Being a season-ticket holder does not give priority in elections of groups or individuals.

How do SOS intend to keep all supporters groups represented in the new Supporters Board? How do SOS propose to encourage non-members to be involved in the process of creating a Supporters Board? People over a certain age may not even be aware of the existence of SOS, or this campaign.

SOS: We have already identified groups of fans who are underrepresented at and with LFC. We will work with them and the club to ensure the whole of our fan base is represented. Details are still to be worked through, but we are confident we will achieve this.

SOS are not the only legitimate LFC fans group. Will we represent them all or find that they have differing objectives that may lead to confusion?

SOS: We are working constantly with our affiliates, and will continue to do so.

What role/responsibility will OSCs have going forward, particularly the smaller ones based overseas? Is there concern given the terms of engagement/operation OLSCs are prescribed to follow at the beginning of each season and their lack of independence in the OLSC concept and charters?

SOS: We have already started engaging with OLSC and are looking for them to organise and have a representative on the Supporters Board rotating as and when issues relevant to them are considered. 
More on OLSC engagement with SOS will come out in the coming weeks.

Will LFC and supporters working groups be sub groups of the Supporter Board?

SOS: The structure not agreed yet, but the chair will be an SOS committee member. Consultation with affiliates and other interested supporters will happen now going forward.

Did LFC’s statement on the Supporters Board reflect SOS’s understanding of the agreement and the level of SOS involvement going forward?

SOS: Yes, it did.

It seems from communications that FSG agreed to all demands/requests you put to them in respect to SOS involvement. Is this the case? Representation was born from the negative: stopping the ESL. What tangible positives do you think it will bring to fans going forward?

SOS: Yes this is indeed the case. It’s hard to put tangible positives here at this point given we are at the start, but we believe having a more strategic focus will result in improvements for fans with additional needs and other minority groups.

Do SOS feel the owners are genuine in this proposal? Or is this a token gesture against the recent backlash?

SOS: Yes, we would not put something to members without a genuine belief of success.

Does ‘consent of fans’ mean consent of SOS? The majority of fans are not members.

SOS: As the recognised supporters trust, SOS will be expected to be in a position to represent the views of the majority of fans, members or not. That is why the make-up of the Supporters Board is crucial.

Do the club have to consult only with SOS, or will they be bound to act on the input they receive?

SOS: The agreement will be with SOS (as the existing supporters trust) and we will be expected to be representative of our fan base.

How frequently will LFC’s Executive Board/Committee meet with the Supporters Board? ‘Regularly’ was referenced, but in the past FSG agreed to meet with internal Supporters Forums and then it didn’t happen.

SOS: This is to be determined, but early indications are it is likely to be monthly.

Will members have the opportunity to comment on changes to the club’s articles and TOR for the Supporter’s Board?

SOS: We will have to see how detailed these are, as we’ve said in answer to a different question, there will be legal discussions required but we will always keep members updated on progress.

Great to have what is a unique moment in the history of the union and the club, but what assurances can you give that we don’t just say “job done” and stand still?

SOS: We can give you that assurance now. We’ve waited a long time for such an opportunity and we will grasp it and make it work.

What plans do SOS have for international supporters so that there’s more engagement and involvement. For example, the Norwegian Supporters Club has 30,000 members. If the Supporters Board is to be elected through SOS, to have any influence do we have to ‘sign up’ or will there be affiliations/partnerships in place.

SOS: The OLSC are being asked to organise and make sure that all areas of international support are represented through a delegate on the Supporters Board. The club and SOS will be pushing more information about how this will work over the coming weeks.

FSG / future security

Is the agreement with the club in perpetuity? What prevents the club from changing the Articles of Association at a later date, for example by new owners? Is the contract only binding with FSG?

SOS: The contract will be with LFC, not FSG. Any proposed changes to the articles would have to be subject to consultation.

What stops the board changing the Articles again in the future and removing SOS?

SOS: New owners could change the Articles, but would they do that without consultation?

Do we have a definition of what constitutes topics relevant/pertaining to fans? As in, which topics the club would consult with us on – the scope of interests outlined in the presentation are broad? We have seen FSG try to trademark Liverpool, furlough staff and join the ESL. Are these examples of consultation matters?

SOS: We would agree these are consultation matters. We will be working with LFC to set out clearly what consultation and engagement mean and those subjects to be included. We would welcome suggestions of what strategic issues members want addressed.

What’s to stop the owners arbitrarily deciding what constitutes a fan-related matter and what doesn’t?

SOS: The definition of ‘fan-related matters’ will be contractually defined within the Articles of Association.

When news of the ESL broke, supporters groups across the leagues banded together. Will SOS continue to stay engaged with them and show a united front for all of football?

SOS: We are members of the FSA, so yes we will be.

Any comment on what the decision-making process will be and who ultimately will make them? Ideally, LFC decisions should be made by management based in the city who are clued in. Do we have assurances this will be the case?

SOS: There does appear to be a substantial degree of delegation to the local team with only issues such as major capital investment having to be referred upwards to the Boston-based board.

If FSG break any of the new agreements what can SOS do from a legal stand point?

SOS: For anything that is part of the Articles of Association there will be potential for legal redress.

How will SOS ensure there will be no further attempts from LFC to participate in the ESL or similar. Will they oppose the new structure of the Champions League, suggestions of a ‘champion’s week’ and plans to introduce a bi-annual World Cup?

SOS: FSG have agreed they would not consider a move from Anfield/ groundshare or participation in a breakaway league without the consent of fans. In addition, ownership have also indicated a willingness to make a public declaration to that effect. We will need to work with the club on any issues arising from changes to the Champions League in partnership with the FSA and FSE.

It seems from communications that FSG agreed to all demands/requests you put to them in respect to SOS involvement. Is this the case? Representation was born from the negative: stopping the ESL. What tangible positives do you think it will bring to fans going forward?

SOS: Yes this is indeed the case. It’s hard to put tangible positives here at this point given we are at the start, but we believe having a more strategic focus will result in improvements for fans with additional needs and other minority groups.

Will we demand 50%+1 supporters’ voting rights in the club’s decision making? How do we strive towards that goal? Have the committee taken legal advice to confirm we will have a workable veto?

SOS: We believe we have secured a veto but of course this needs to be legally binding and will be part of next steps. We will be seeking legal advice to secure the best arrangements.

Did the Manchester United fans’ invasion of Old Trafford contribute to the leverage SOS had in negotiating with FSG?

SOS: It’s been said before that we work closely with fan groups of other teams and we were each constantly updating each other on our respective positions. It definitely helped and having a similar potential leading up to our final game was always a good negotiating position to have.

When news of the ESL broke, supporters groups across the leagues banded together. Will SOS continue to stay engaged with them and show a united front for all of football?

SOS: We are members of the FSA, so yes we will be.

If LFC decide SOS want too much, could another body become the ‘official’ trust?

SOS: The most important thing is for SOS to stay relevant and prove we are the right body to be so. We have 13 years of experience of working with LFC, the national federations, premier league, FA, UEFA, etc so we are in a good place.

FSG

Did FSG give any indication why they did not consult with SOS, any other fan group or even the playing staff prior to the ESL announcement? Do we know who and at what forum the decision was taken? This seems important and linked to how fan representation would work.

SOS: No, in fact we were told that the club would have a ‘watching brief’ in the months before, when unfortunately it seemed they were instead involved in the creation of the ESL.

What can we do to make FSG more interested in the women’s team?

SOS: Supporters of the women’s team will be one of the presently under-represented fan groups considered to be part of the Supporters Board. This will ensure there is direct influence with LFC on this matter.

Is there an opportunity for a link up with Boston Red Socks fan base who have their own issues with the owners?

SOS: This is something we are exploring at the moment.

Would FSG ever consider an investment by the official Liverpool supporters trust? Considering they have accepted inward investment from basketball players and other hedge funds from the US?

SOS: We have not had any discussions with FSG regarding this.

Union

Is there a need for a revised financial model for the union to achieve the best supporter outcomes in future and also to continue community initiatives?

SOS: Possibly. We will certainly need to revisit our aims and objectives, something we have been planning to do for some time, this gives us a good opportunity and is probably a discussion at our AGM.

Would it be a good idea to have a Spirit of Shankly page or section in the matchday programme?

SOS: We have thought of that but really the matchday programme is for the team and we want to stay ‘independent’.

I assume SOS’s independence from the club is non-negotiable and not part of any trade-off the club may try to bring, and SOS have not had to concede any elements. Can we be reassured that the union will fight for us on issues that continue to affect us: ticket prices, tickets getting taken from fans, away ticket allocation including corporate allocation?

SOS: Absolutely. Our independence is in fact greater now than before. We are a union and our independence is important, leaving us in a strong position to fight for the issues highlighted and others.

Is there a strategy to have links with similar fan organisations at other Premier League clubs to strengthen the position on issues of common ground, such as £30 for home tickets, better allocations at finals?

SOS: Always. We have strong links already and through the FSA, have huge respect for what’s been achieved over the past 13 years.

Ultimately, do SOS still want fan ownership? I guess fan representation in the constitution gets us to a similar position, just curious.

SOS: This is something we will need to consider as part of a future AGM.

Government Fan-led Review

SOS should pressure the FA and Government into why the ‘Tracey Crouch Fan-led review’ of football doesn’t have any true fan representation on the panel. FSA are involved but doesn’t feel fan-led.

SOS: We have made representation about this and expressed our concerns, unfortunately the construction of the panel was not within our gift. Be assured that when we are in a position to do so, we will make known supporters’ views on this again.

Will SOS work with other supporters trusts to ensure transparency in the fan-led review?

SOS: Yes we will continue to work alongside the other trusts.Government Fan-led Review.

Other issues

Is anyone going to point out to the club the damage done by having the Conservative employment minister on the pitch at Anfield?

SOS: We have made the club aware of our robust opposition to the minister’s invite as it undermines the work being done for our local community initiatives.

Will issues such as safe standing be addressed in the future by a Supporters Board?

SOS: Yes SOS already have a democratic position on this and would expect to work with LFC on future discussions.

Will SOS be seeking answers from the club in regards to today’s visit of Anfield of employment minister Mims Davies. It seems the club just wants to create a further divide from themselves and the ideologies of their local support.

SOS: We have already done this. We immediately approached the club and in turn they deleted the publicity. They have said the meeting and its publicity were an error of judgement and they have put structures in place to mitigate the risk of similar situations occurring again.

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