Liverpool supporters’ union obtains a veto on any future European Super League

Liverpool supporters have insisted on a clause in a draft contract with the club on fan engagement, which effectively gives them a veto on any future involvement in a European Super League.

The contract, which will define the relationship between the club and fans, has been drawn up with the Spirit of Shankly supporters’ union.

It is a comprehensive agreement, which also includes another clause stating that the club must consult with fans if Liverpool are to play Premier League fixtures ‘away from Anfield’.

Liverpool supporters quickly put up banners condemning the European Super League

The document will be voted on by 35,000 members of Spirit of Shankly later this month.

The vote comes just six months after Liverpool owner John W Henry was forced to make a grovelling apology for taking the club into a European Super League.

John W Henry took Liverpool into the European Super League but quickly back-tracked

John W Henry took Liverpool into the European Super League but quickly back-tracked

Liverpool were one of the 12 richest clubs in Europe, including England’s Big Six, Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Inter and AC Milan, which secretly conceived and signed up to the hated project.

The scheme collapsed within 24 hours of a bungled announcement in the face of ferocious fan reaction, determined UK government opposition and an effective rear-guard action from the Premier League, FA and UEFA.

At that time, Spirt of Shankly, which is recommending supporters back the new model for fan engagement, condemned the initiative as ‘greed, pure and simple’.

Today, chairman Joe Blott told Sportsmail: ‘It is clear [the club has] accepted they can’t do it without our permission. A European Super League or a breakaway league will not happen without fan consent and Liverpool know that.

Liverpool fans joined supporters around the country objecting to the ill-judged plans

Liverpool fans joined supporters around the country objecting to the ill-judged plans

‘That Super League was not in any way, shape or form built on sporting integrity of winners and losers. It was about history and the size of the bank balance. If any Super League comes along with those type of tenets in it, we would be 100 per cent opposed to it as we were back in April.’

After the collapse of the Super League, Liverpool’s owner, Henry, posted a video message.

‘I want to apologise to all the fans and supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the disruption I caused over the past 48 hours,’ he said.

‘It goes without saying but should be said that the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans. No-one ever thought differently in England. Over these 48 hours you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you. I heard you.  

Liverpool and the other English clubs – Man City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal – subsequently gave commitments to the Premier League there would be no similar transgressions in the future.

In the aftermath of the ill-fated April initiative, Liverpool entered into negotiations with Spirit of Shankly to give supporters a say in future decisions.

The draft agreement that has emerged from those negotiations identifies decisions the club may make that would require consent of fans, consultation with supporters, or simply the provision of information.

Henry also apologised to Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, amid the Super League furore

Henry also apologised to Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, amid the Super League furore

Supporters accused the club's owners of failing to understand the feelings of local, loyal fans

Supporters accused the club’s owners of failing to understand the feelings of local, loyal fans

The summary document defines issues that would require fan consent.

These include a permanent move away from Anfield, a groundshare, and participation in an alternative competition.

Blott said those three issues posed the greatest threat to the club in the supporters’ view and so they sought an effective veto on them.

Liverpool could only permanently participate ‘in an alternative breakaway domestic league or European football competition’, if it receives the consent of fans, according to the document.

Spirit of Shankly were categorically opposed to the European Super League, when news broke of the ill-fated venture on April 18.

Protests took place at Big Six clubs with fans disgusted at a pursuit of money over competition

Protests took place at Big Six clubs with fans disgusted at a pursuit of money over competition

The following day, the supporters’ union issued a statement which said: ‘This proposal threatens to destroy everything on which our club was built. And the reason? Greed, pure and simple.’

It added: ‘A breakaway Super League will not only stamp on football’s competitive ideals, but will take with it LFC’s history and stature, tainting our name, for what? The pursuit of money…

The new fan engagement model also proposes that where fan consent is required, supporters will be polled to determine their opinion, however, the document does not define who those fans would be.

Manchester United fans have led calls for changes to the supporter ownership model for clubs

Manchester United fans have led calls for changes to the supporter ownership model for clubs

‘The exact make-up of the constituency of LFC fans that shall be entitled to vote will be determined by an agreement between LFC and SOS at the time the vote is required,’ it states.

It is likely different groups of supporters may be given a say depending on the issue.

Liverpool’s supporter base is made up local, national and international fans. It has over 300 official supporters’ clubs in 100 countries worldwide, as well as a mix of members and season-ticket holders.

The draft contract also deals with the possibility of Liverpool playing Premier League fixtures ‘away from Anfield’.

Andrea Agnelli, 45, the chairman of Juventus and an heir to the $10billion Fiat fortune, was a chief archiect of the European Super League

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was credited with taking a firm stance against it and threatened to drop a 'legislative bomb' to destroy it

Andrea Agnelli, 45, the chairman of Juventus and an heir to the $10billion Fiat fortune, was a chief architect of the European Super League, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson was credited with taking a firm stance against it and threatened to drop a ‘legislative bomb’ to destroy it

This clause was included out of concern that the Premier League may in future stage matches around the world. 

ENGAGING WITH FANS

Liverpool and the Spirit of Shankly supporters’ union are setting up a new fan engagement process.

The two organisations will enter into a formal contract and a draft will be voted on by the union’s members this month.

Under the proposals, Spirit of Shankly will set up a new Supporters’ Board, which will have 16 members and represent the ‘full spectrum’ of the Liverpool fan base.

This will include representation for UK and international fans and reflect diversity, including gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation.

The board will ‘represent the strategic interests of LFC supporters byacting as the appropriate forum through which… supporters may make and direct representations to [the club]’.

There is an agreed list of topics on which the board will engage with the club.

These will require the supporters’ board to consent, be consulted or at least informed.

Issues requiring consent include, moving ground, a ground share or the club joining a new breakaway league. These changes would require a poll of fans.

Matters requiring fan consent include significant changes to the crest, matchday arrangements, ticketing and playing Premier League games away from Anfield.

While fans will be informed about club accounts, kit design and commercial values.

 

However, such a move would only require fans to be consulted, it would not need their consent.

‘There is enough noise around it for us to be discussing it and Liverpool know our level of challenge against it,’ explained Blott.

‘It was not the biggest existential threat. Would [a game overseas] cause the end of our football club? I am not sure, but it is definitely something we would be opposed to.

‘It is hard to put something in writing that is yet to be constructed, but it is still in the framework.’

In September, Premier League clubs discussed extending the reach of the competition using pre-season summer games to whet the appetite of new audiences overseas.

News of the conversation quickly sparked speculation about the return of the controversial concept of a ‘Game 39’, proposed by former Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore a decade ago, in which a competitive top flight fixture would be played abroad.

Clubs could have earned an estimated £5million per match, but it met opposition or scepticism from managers including Gareth Southgate, Rafael Benitez, Roy Hodgson and Steve Bruce, and was panned by fans for prioritising money over supporters.

Sources were quick to play down any suggestion that the initiative was returning, insisting this is ‘not about Scudamore’ and there is no intention of playing competitive Premier League matches in other countries.

Meanwhile, the Spirit of Shankly members will meet on November 27 to consider these and wider issues of engagement with Liverpool.

It marks a culmination of six months of hard work. Within a week of the Super League fiasco, Spirit of Shankly called for elected fan representation on the club’s board with 89% of its members supporting a proposal to work with the club on a reform agenda.

‘Their actions shamed the LFC, but they can accept the values and principles of our club and react positively,’ Spirit of Shankly said in a statement at the end of April.

‘Together we can lead the change for the future of our game.’

Blott said the negotiations with Liverpool had been ‘comprehensive, constructive and amicable’.

Banners and football scarves were tied to the fences around Anfield Stadium, the home of Liverpool Football Club, before the American owner issued a humbling apology

Banners and football scarves were tied to the fences around Anfield Stadium, the home of Liverpool Football Club, before the American owner issued a humbling apology

Banners declaring the death of Liverpool and demanding its American owners were slung out were tied to the fences around Anfield Stadium, the home of Liverpool Football Club, before the American owner John Henry issued a humbling apology

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