Letter to FSG: Recent Events

Saturday 19 May

In light of recent events surrounding Liverpool Football Club, Spirit of Shankly has been in contact with the club to gain an understanding of what the owner’s strategy may be moving forward. Spirit of Shankly has always held the position that it is not our place to be picking and choosing individual managers, our duty is to represent our members in demanding that the Club has an executive structure in place that can effectively support the manager, whoever that may be.

In seeking to ensure that the club has the best people possible in place to make the best decisions possible, SOS contacted the club yesterday.

In his response Ian Ayre categorically denied that the club was receiving advice or guidance from individual supporters. An accusation which came to light in an email that was sent to a number of Liverpool supporter groups.

Ian Ayre:

I can tell you categorically that Alan Kayll and Paul Tompkins have had no input on the manager or anything else for that matter. I’ve seen a lot of that stuff being suggested and it’s nonsense.”

Following this, last night Spirit of Shankly sent the following correspondence to Tom Werner, John Henry and Ian Ayre in the hope that communication with supporters can be improved and the football club can present clear leadership and direction.

We will update members upon receipt of a response and we will also be communicating our own plans should no response be forthcoming in a timely manner.

Correspondence sent to Tom Werner, John Henry & Ian Ayre:

Dear Mr. Werner, Mr.Henry and Mr. Ayre.

We are writing to you as we are concerned about the current situation that our football club finds itself in. It is a time of worry for supporters, not just because of the huge changes and the transformation that is happening in such a short time frame but the manner in which it is happening.

It may be that yourselves and the board of Liverpool Football Club have a vision you are working towards. It may be that you have implemented a strategy to deliver that vision and decisions are being made to work towards this. However, from the outside where supporters find themselves once again, it looks like a football club in disarray. Confusion and chaos seems to reign and no one is coming out of this with much credit, particularly the football club’s image and brand.

We need clear and pro-active communication, a confident message about the club’s plans that breeds confidence amongst supporters that we are moving in the right direction. Instead, we have silence and a lack of information or understanding on decisions being made.

Today we find ourselves with key positions at the football club vacant. Most notably, the position of Manager and the lack of a footballing man on the board. There has been much speculation, along with emails sent to supporters groups, on who is providing advice to yourselves. It may well be the case that this is speculation; however, it is understandable that there is speculation given the lack of clarity and information on who is deciding on matters, why and the timing of them.
We have seen both Damien Comolli and Kenny Dalglish removed from their positions, and the search for replacements is still ongoing. We do know that conversations have been held with individuals mentioned in today’s rumours about the football staff and those who have held these positions.

Mr. Ayre has said today:

I can tell you categorically that Alan Kayll and Paul Tompkins have had no input on the manager or anything else for that matter. I’ve seen a lot of that stuff being suggested and it’s nonsense.”

This is encouraging as it is the firm belief of Spirit Of Shankly that footballing decisions should be made by footballing men who are appropriately qualified. We know all too well of the mistakes that follow if this simple mantra is not adhered to.

Are suitably qualified individuals making these decisions?

Today, Ian Ayre gave an interview, talking about the removal of Kenny Dalglish as manager, in which he stated that “Winning the FA Cup wouldn’t have made any difference – it was never about an individual result. It was always about taking a review of the season in full.”
As supporters, we have always believed in the quote from Bill Shankly that

Liverpool Football club exists not to make money, it exists to win trophies and be a source of pride for its supporters. It serves no other purpose.”.

To supporters, this is of massive importance. We know that success in football requires money. However, the quote from Ian Ayre would lead us to believe that our focus is no longer on winning trophies but making money. In a season that has seen us end with one trophy out of the three available and narrowly miss out on a second, it is somewhat disrespectful to suggest to supporters that winning another trophy would not be good enough. It is also contradictory to what Ian Ayre himself said earlier in the month: “Anyone who was at the Carling Cup final or the semi-final against Everton will tell you that’s what being a Liverpool fan is all about. It might not have the biggest prize money or the biggest status, but it’s fantastic. You go to watch a football team every week because you want them to be successful and win things. John and Tom will be there on Saturday. That’s why you buy sports teams – to watch them compete for trophies”. Ian Ayre, May 2012.

Is it now the strategy of Liverpool FC to place greater importance upon generating revenues above winning trophies?

Today, communication and leadership is vital. As supporters we have seen all too clearly what a lack of communication from absentee owners leads to. There has been very limited dialogue through the Supporters Committee which is still in its infancy, but this has been mainly used by the club to get messages out, rather than the dialogue promised with supporters at the time of your takeover. At a time when a clear message is needed, it is somewhat embarrassing for supporters and the football club to see Twitter messages on who supporters think should be the next manager. We are Liverpool FC. We are better than that.

Ultimately, supporters remain in the dark once again about the plans for this football club moving forward. We find ourselves experiencing déjà vu, where boardroom decisions lead to more questions than they answer. If we all want to pull in the same direction, transparency is needed. As supporters we often offer blind devotion to our football team. Due to our history, we do not afford the same luxury to the football club. It is equally as important for you to trust in supporters, so that we can work together for the betterment of the football club, as it is for us to trust in you.

We ask that you speak with supporters – engage with a true representative cross section of supporters and work with supporters to provide solutions to our current problems. This will enable communication with supporters to take place in an open and accountable manner.
Hopefully hear from you soon.

Spirit Of Shankly

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