Liverpool FC supporters union Spirit of Shankly has released a response to owner John W. Henry’s apology. It is a damning rejection of what they have termed “a PR exercise”. The messages calls out the hypocrisy of broadcasters, UEFA and FIFA, and calls for continued pressure to enact change to football governance. Their statement in full:
It has been a tumultuous, sickening few days for us all. Spirit of Shankly have always asked for honesty, integrity and transparency from club owners FSG, but the arrogance and deception they have shown behind this money-grab is frightening. But not surprising.
We have noted John Henry’s apology, but this PR exercise is too little too late. These crocodile tears will not wash. Actions speak louder than ‘hollow’ words.
Liverpool Football Club is not an American franchise, it is a community steeped in history and tradition.
The ‘future of football’ came crashing down in 48 hours because of the solidarity and outcry of ‘legacy’ fans across the country. This debacle must be a catalyst for real change, not an exercise in damage limitation.
Our owners have thrown everyone under the bus, supporters, manager, players and staff, and humiliated themselves through sheer greed and arrogance.
The hypocrisy of the Premier League and broadcasters has also been noted. They have never considered the fans in their own gold rush and have treated us with thinly disguised contempt over the years.
We need a fundamental change in football governance, one that is fair for the whole football pyramid, not just the rapacious elite. We need a model that promises equitable distribution of the vast amounts of money involved in the beautiful game, our game.
During this confusion UEFA have gladly portrayed themselves as the progressive force. Nothing could be further from the truth and their new Champions League format is a disgrace. One that must be resisted immediately.
We will be consulting with our members to gauge their opinion on our next steps.
Certainly, some fans may be tempted to take it easy now that the European Super League isn’t happening. A visible contingent on Twitter is already back to dreaming about Haaland or Mbappe as an nice big apology from the owners. More pragmatic fans have already pointed out the problems of a change in ownership - we’re likely to end up with another venture capitalist, an oligarch, a rich state or just fraudulent monopoly money dabbler as an owner.
However, the universe has somehow aligned everything for this moment: comically poor execution by the ESL and a certain populist buffoon in charge of the UK has meant that for the first time in a long while, actual football governance legislation may be a possibility. With both sides of the political aisle interested in tackling the problem after the wave of supporter outcry, the momentum is firmly on the side of the fans for once. Let’s not waste this.