Spirit Of Shankly - YOUR Union - Q&A

Posted by Garstonite on March 30, 2010, 03:29:03 PM

The Spirit Of Shankly was set up in January 2008, when 350 like-minded fans got together to discuss what we, as fans, can do to have a say in the matters that influence us all. Their primary and continual objective remains to rid this club of its two American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who since arriving at the club have placed unmanagable debts upon the club and made false promise after false promise.

Recently, I asked for you to put forward your questions and beneath are the answers that have been provided.

Veinticinco de Mayo - We'll start with what many people see as the most fundamental question. Why should I join SoS?  You cannot get rid of the Americans and I don't see any benefits in it for me.  What is the point of me giving you my ten quid?

Do SoS have any plans to meet with anyone else from the club in the near future? Is there any arrangement to meet up with Purslow again? I would be interested in the stories we are hearing about the Ticket Office moving into a town centre location wonder what implications that has for match day ticket collections etc.

Spirit Of Shankly - Firstly Kev, thanks for the opportunity to respond to the questions and also the support the Union receives from RAWK’s posters including the constructive criticism and ideas that emanate from it.

The question of why someone should join SOS requires an individual to jump back and consider a couple of questions themselves first. Do I consider that the supporter should have a greater say in our Club? And if so, what is the best way for fans to get a say?

Our answer to these questions is a resounding “yes” to the first, and the answer to the second is based upon the fact that SOS is currently best chance that fans have to join an organised group campaigning on the major issues that affect them – proper ownership, investment in the playing side, ticketing and the stadium redevelopment.

People marvel at the idea of the 12th Man, if we can turn the atmosphere of the 12th Man on the Kop to keep on moving forward together we can achieve so much more. As Shankly said “The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having  a share of the rewards. It’s the way I see football, the way I see life.” If people look at what we have achieved with 4,500, then imagine what we could achieve with 10,000 members or even a whole lot more.

The other side is looking on the personal side of things, by looking at the cheap travel we offer, member offers, community coaching and more. People can take up the offer or they can also take part in them as well to help out with the cause and in things like the coaching help with their personal development as well with extra experience. To those who live outside of the city, there is still some of these benefits available to you as well and with the passing of the resolution to allow local branches at the last AGM it allows people

In terms of meeting with the Club we have not turned away from them. We have put questions to him via Ian Ayre (he acts as day to day liaison with us) but are yet to receive a response. The ball is in Purslow’s court to see if he considers it in the supporters’ best interests to have a dialogue with us.

The Ticket Office and Ticketing generally are major issues we have to deal with all the time. It has been announced that the Ticket Office is moving to the city centre but we do not consider that means we will see window sales in L1! Obviously this will have to be looked into further like all other similar issues are dealt with.

JohnBarnesBigToe - I believe it was agreed at the AGM to allow branches to be set up around the country. Are members to do this going to be actively sought out, or are they expected to generate interest in their local area themselves?

What's the SOS official stance on where ShareLFC is going (or not as the case may be) and whether it thinks they are still a viable entity?

Spirit Of Shankly - The opportunity for branches to be set up is now there. Tommy Keiner our Overseas Supporter Officer is making good progress in contacting groups of fans in different countries with a view to putting them in touch with each other. Currently we have had interest from Malta, USA, the Benelux countries and Croatia. We urge overseas members to contact Tommy (overseas@spiritofshankly.com) and UK and Ireland members to contact Peter Hooton (uksupporters@spiritofshankly.com) to liaise more with them about setting up a local branch and how to move forward. Once we have people who are willing to take the lead in their local vicinity then we can pass those details onto those in that area with that person’s permission to be able to take things to the next level.

We aim to facilitate the creation of branches and support them once created but our resources are such that large scale recruitment campaigns aren’t feasible.

On Share Liverpool, it is our ultimate aim to have fan ownership and because of this it is something that we will always be looking at and working on with any necessary groups like we have done previously with Share Liverpool. It is for Share Liverpool to say if they are still a viable entity.

greebo - On a similar theme: would it not be a good idea to use the energy and time expended protesting against the owners to try to find someone interested in buying the club?

Spirit Of Shankly - On the basis that Tom Hicks, George Gillett, David Moores, Rick Parry, Christian Purslow and a significant number of investment banks have failed over the last ten years on this point we are approaching the problem from a different angle.

Fan ownership is the most effective way we can see in terms of changing the ownership of the Club for the benefit of supporters. We do not have the resources to hawk a Club around that we do not own – it isn’t realistic or feasible for us to do so.

A supporters’ ownership scheme with momentum will attract commercial partners allowing the aim you’ve identified to be at least attempted.

Protests have a massive role to play in educating supporters to our predicament and marking the card of future owners that there is a vibrant, intelligent fan base that see any owners as trustees of a tradition rather than as a blatant investment vehicle.

They are also just one part of action that is needed. They enhance media presence and provide a way to keep on informing people of the situation at the club. It’s a way of saying we will not go away and has yielded great results with the management in the club being unable to ignore us. The momentum developed from this can work hand in hand with any other action we are implementing to ensure that the owners are held to account accordingly.

Joe Rogans Chin - Has any potential new owner of LFC been in touch with SOS?

Spirit Of Shankly - Over the time since the Union has existed there have been some approaches made by potential owners. People will remember DIC invited us to a meeting to discuss this issue specifically.

It is something we are continually looking at with the search for new investment ongoing and we will actively pursue these investors and the club to get answers to questions that our members and fans need to know about before they invest money in the club.

Fordy - What has been the overall reaction from the Billboard advertising? Has it got the results so far that you wanted?

Have you got anything lined up to do in the USA?

We have been really pleased with the Billboard advertising. It got national  (and international) coverage on TV, radio and in the printed media. Although it was based in Liverpool the aim was to raise profile and to use the billboards to create news and therefore more profile whilst targeting a large local base in another form to be able to reach more people.

The picture of a billboard on a street in Liverpool resonated nationally and bought us more media exposure at a lower cost than a one page advertisement in a national paper.

The results were great exposure far beyond the Liverpool postcodes and in the weeks after it was launched we saw memberships increase by over 10%.
We are looking into the US for an extension of the campaign but we need to balance this against the cost and “billboard weariness”.

Also, this is where overseas members and the possibility of local branches can play a part in Spirit of Shankly’s action against Hicks and Gillett but them looking at these sort of possibilities and then liaising with the Management Committee to see if what they are proposing is feasible and affordable  and then if it is we can work with them to drive things forward.

DangerScouse - Has there been any discussion on taking protests to the next level – that is, has there been any discussion about organising a potential boycott?

Spirit Of Shankly - The boycott suggestion is mentioned at least weekly on emails to the Union and on LFC websites.

There are two elements to a boycott of tickets for instance. Firstly, the level of support is not there to make a boycott effective. Non-season tickets will generally always sell out and there will be a queue of people behind a boycotter ready to take his or her ticket. Secondly, the Union would only advocate a boycott if it felt that it would have sufficient support to have an impact. The Union’s cause would be set back months if a boycott failed.

If there is an overwhelming support for a boycott by our membership then obviously we would have to take things further. This is where having more people join the Union would be useful for deciding within our membership about whether this is feasible and would be supported. We are always keen to listen to new ideas though to escalate things.

Any direct action ideas should be e-mailed to Kyle at directaction@spiritofshankly.com.

Shanks1965 - As an SOS member myself why do we think United have been able to galvanish seemingly the whole of their support behind getting rid of their owners in the space of a few days, whereas we by comparsion still seem to be the noisy minority of match going supporters?

Spirit Of Shankly - I’d challenge this idea of their support being “galvanised”. For some it is a passionate belief that their owners should go, for others it a fashion statement and shamefully for the “Red Knights”, it is a chance to use a grassroots campaign top further their own commercial agenda.

We have a membership who have literally bought in to what we are trying to achieve – they have an internet page where you click to support.

We have organised marches with upwards of 5000 matchgoers, they have Norwich City scarves over replica tops (oh, the irony).

What we have to accept is that as the darlings of the media their campaign has received more coverage than ours and more. Whether it is deserving of more is another question.

Its important to note as well that MUST have been going twelve years compared to our two years as well and they had kept quiet for the last 4 years. We have been picking up the column inches in the last 2 years only for their protest to come to the fore after the sale of Ronaldo, the publication of their accounts and now the national media’s coverage of a national issue with debt which wasn’t there at the same level before with more clubs problems also raised. We shouldn’t be spending our time though thinking they are doing this and that. Most importantly we need to concentrate on what we are doing and work together to achieve our aims.

kopite1 - Will the SOS be selling more merchandise around the ground, i.e. scarves, shirts, hats (no jester ones!) to generate added revenue?

Spirit Of Shankly - Yes, we have plans to extend the merchandise we currently have to support the money we need to campaign. A shop opening local to the ground has kindly agreed to stock our merchandise and our website is extending to accommodate online sales. When we are able to take things further the members will be informed.

It is something we have been looking to do for a while, but it is important to stress that we are volunteers doing this around full time jobs. Packaging and posting 100-200 t-shirts takes time, let alone with all the other things we have to work on. This is when if there were more members getting involved with various aspects of our work it would then free up more time to do more things like more merchandise.

BCCC - How does SOS aim to reach a wider audience to gain more members?

Spirit Of Shankly - To paraphrase someone “Education, Education, Education”. The membership will only grow once people recognise the problem, decide to do something about it and see SOS as a good way to get a greater say within their Club.

Leafleting, the billboards and our media campaigns plus the work we do to establish cheaper travel to games, ticketing issues and the work we do in the community hopefully underlines we are the best hope for fans to be heard by the Club.

The internet has been utilised much as well with over 22,000 fans on Facebook for Spirit of Shankly and over 2,000 on Twitter. This is another way of getting the message out to non members to hopefully increase membership.

Garstonite - Along similar lines to the question above, there seems to be an unfortunate perception that the SOS is tailored only towards local fans. Have you got any plans of getting overseas and other fans across the United Kingdom involved?

Have the SOS contemplated getting in touch with Tom Hicks and/or George Gillett in a more softer approach? Keep your friends close and all that? Or are all bridges burnt to a cinder?

Spirit Of Shankly
- The recent branches proposal started to identify the problem that some fans fell exists about not being local. Interestingly we are represented in about 30 different countries and the proportion of “out of town” or overseas members is much higher than might be thought.

We continue to encourage membership from anywhere the only prerequisite being a commitment to the ideals of Liverpool Football Club and agreement to our short, medium and longer term objectives.

Its important that everyone knows that wherever they live that they can play a part. Whether its taking part in e-mail campaigns like done against RBS last summer or spreading the word amongst other Liverpool fans, or even possibly arranging a protest against the owners at their local supporters club. A group from Malaysia had printed off versions of our Red Card leaflet from Stoke City Game and held them up for many pictures during a gathering for the Bolton Game and also made some for cars. We have a global fanbase so there is no reason why we can’t take things worldwide with our action, but obviously this needs to be led by overseas members.

We would not turn away from dialogue with the owners – however I suspect that our views and theirs are so diametrically opposed that any dialogue would be futile. They won’t recognise the lies they have told nor the way in which they have considered this Club as a “franchise”.

If they honestly answered the question “What is best for LFC?” and then followed what the correct answer actually is then I could see how a dialogue might have some benefit.

Their  lies and disdain mean they don’t consider that they are the worst thing to happen ownership wise to this Club in its history which in turn means we will continue to campaign until they are gone.

majestic_11 - Can you shed any more light on this story - ’Liverpool Fans Threaten RBS Over Loan Refinance’?

Spirit Of Shankly - This was a campaign run independently by a poster on “The Liverpool Way” forum. While the passion behind it was applauded by the Union it was not a Union campaign.

Walshy - Would SOS consider opening up membership rather than keeping it as a Union?  Can I ask, what benefits having a being a union would give you/us, in relation to Man Utd's Green and Gold scheme?

Spirit Of Shankly - We consider the benefits and credibility of having a paid for membership outweighs the modern vogue for internet campaigns such as the one you’ve alluded to and upon which I’ve commented above. However, we expect to launch a junior  membership (free of charge) during the coming months.

The Union isn’t driven about supplying benefits. It is driven by what YOU can do for your Club. We want people who are committed to our cause and I’m pleased to say we have that evidenced by those out leafleting and marching from all over the city, country and world trying to do what they can to save (and I mean save) our Club.

It’s the power that there is in a union which is key with the say members can have in the running of their union. As with the resolutions at the last AGM as well it shows we are always looking at ways to constantly improve the structure of the union for our members to be truly representative of them. Obviously we want people to join the Union to help us become stronger, but much in the same way as the green and gold campaign people can still support the ‘Not Welcome Here’ campaign by participating in any protests and with reference to this we are asking people to make banners to take into the ground to offer a visual presence using something that Liverpool fans are famous for.

danwms - Could SOS try and get ex players on board to get more of a media presence?

Spirit Of Shankly - This is also a regular matter raised with us. There is hardly a player of note we have not approached. The answer is for supporters to judge for themselves.

Ex-players see what we see.

Ex-players know better than we do the connection between team investment and success.

Ex-players presumably have this Club as their priority and are committed to its protection and success.

Many ex-players have commercial connections to the Club or media careers where boring finance stuff doesn’t sell papers, get listeners or viewers.

You figure it out.

To add to that though, in the same way that we would urge members to spread the word to their friends and family, members can spread the word to any ex-players or ‘celebrities’ they come in contact with either in every day life or getting the message across on phone ins and similar. We shouldn’t just wait for an ex-player to speak out to get more people on board, we have to go out and spread the word ourselves. The Union is only as strong as its members. As a paid up member, when I look around at the members around me at SOS events it makes me feel very proud to be a part of such an organisation and at what we have achieved. But we are Liverpool fans, so we always want more and we always want better, so we need to spread the word and become stronger in passion, ingenuity and numbers and then we will realise, to steal the Adidas tag line, that ‘Impossible is nothing’.

Thanks to the Spirit Of Shankly for taking out their time - as they have continually done so since its inception - to answer these questions. If you didn't have your question answered, or you've thought of something that you would like to bring up, there are plenty of avenues available for you to get your question answered either by the SOS representatives on this very forum, or if you have a questioned tailored towards a more specific area, then you can find the right person to answer it through this link HERE.

Just to add my tuppence worth. I doubt I am the only person that's interest in football has waned while the American owners have taken over this club. It's not that my love of it has gone, it's just that it would feel naive to cheer on a team who, as grim as it sounds, has the potential for such a grim future. As football fans, we should be able to concentrate on the football. But we can't. Because finishing second last year changed nothing. If we qualify for the CL and win the Europa League this season, it will change nothing. Whether such-and-such is fit to wear the shirt changes nothing. Just because we haven't plumetted into the depths of Leeds or Portsmouth doesn't mean we won't. It just means that NOW is the time to act.

Don't just sit back and watch the demise of our club happen without a fight. Don't admire what the Spirit of Shankly are trying to achieve from a distance. Join up, get involved. Because when this becomes a battle between the majority, rather than just the unsilent minority, then it becomes a battle Hicks and Gillett will realise they cannot win.

Dunno why, but I felt the need for it say it.

What's stopping you?


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