In what should have been a memorable year thanks to LFC winning the Premier League, 2020 will be remembered not only for claiming our historic 19th title.
When thinking about writing this update, it struck me how much work football fans, around the country, have done this year: rallied to help foodbanks, provide PPE, support #LetUsWatch, and campaigned against PPV, Project Big Picture and a European Super League. All on a voluntary basis.
Spirit of Shankly have been at the forefront of many of these issues and we have worked closely with LFC on a number of covid-related matters: supporting public-health messages, preparing for fans returning to Anfield, and ensuring they recognise the social, financial and health concerns facing supporters.
Engagement with the club is vital for supporter questions. It is also important they are held to account on other points.
In the past 12 months, SOS have worked to prevent staff being furloughed, instead retaining jobs with 100% wages. We led the national campaign to boycott PPV. LFC, who initially supported PPV, listened and took our arguments to the Premier League leading to the scheme’s abandonment. In addition this action raised more than £250k locally and £500k nationally for foodbanks.
Project Big Picture was leaked as the brainchild of LFC and MUFC, something both clubs deny. At first glance, this initiative looked to have the welfare of all fans and tiers of football at its heart. On closer inspection, it gave more power to a minority of top-level clubs. We protested its sporting integrity at the time and will continue to engage if and when it comes round again.
SOS are pushing for fan involvement in UEFA club competitions and revenue distribution reform as a member of Football Supporters Europe. Again, we will engage with LFC and do all we can to ensure the views of our fans are at the forefront of the UEFA decision-making process.
We have continued to ensure ticket prices, supporter engagement and banning and sanctions processes have been discussed with the club. It has been difficult, due to lack of fan attendance, but these remain high on our agenda.
Racism has been a high-profile issue and we openly support Black Lives Matter and players taking the knee. We again backed the Rainbow Laces Campaign and will continue to work with marginalised groups in our supporter community.
We have made huge progress, working alongside partners LFC Foundation, Spion Kop 1906 and the LDSA, in raising the profile of mental health issues among fans. On 11 December 2020 our virtual Big Red Conversation was the start of a season-long project to raise awareness. In conjunction with Notre Dame Catholic College, we have part funded the creation of a sensory room that will be available to help local people.
Working in tandem with Morrison’s, volunteer taxi drivers and partners such as An Hour for Others, Kirkdale Boxing, L6 Community, Everton Community the Friary Centre, Dovecot’s St Margaret Mary’s infant school, Halewood Voice, LDSA and Speke Foodbank, we have provided over 4,000 bags of food to families in need. We used union funds, but could only have achieved so much thanks to donations from our members.
We continue to support the work of Fans Supporting Foodbanks and applaud those members whose generosity has helped, despite there being no matchday collections.
It’s been a difficult year, but we look forward to 2021 in the hope we can return to some kind of normality.
Joe Blott, Chair