Dear John Henry: A letter from a Liverpool ‘legacy fan’

Jeff Goulding is an Anfield season ticket holder for over 4 many years – he’s a so-called ‘legacy fan’. That is his message to Liverpool FC proprietor John W. Henry.

Expensive John,

Apologising if you’ve made a mistake takes braveness and I do know it may be troublesome. So, on this respect your video apology to Liverpool’s gamers, our supervisor and supporters is welcome. Who amongst us hasn’t made errors?  This although needs to be a primary step and never an finish in itself. It ought to inform future behaviour.

Sadly, although, we’ve been right here earlier than. After the £77 ticket hike, the try and trademark the Liverbird, and the phrase Liverpool when utilized in a soccer context, and the furlough controversy, you and your organisation issued apologies, backtracked and promised to do higher. But, right here we’re once more.

Every of those points have a standard thread and are about squeezing as a lot cash from the membership as attainable. Additionally they reveal a staggering lack of perception into the ethos and philosophy of the membership you personal and its supporters.

Extra worryingly maybe is the truth that your involvement within the failed breakaway Tremendous League means that not solely do you not perceive your individual membership, however you don’t get English and European soccer both. There isn’t a single supporter of any membership, not one participant or supervisor who, in the event you had requested them, wouldn’t have advised you to swerve this entire concept.

Anybody who has grown up supporting their group from the terraces understands that what makes soccer particular is that success is earned, and the opportunity of failure makes victory all of the sweeter.

The plan you had been concerned with would have reworked the sport we love right into a sterile, meaningless affair devoid of ardour. Numerous individuals have fought arduous to construct this membership. Now we have spent small fortunes within the context of our earnings to drive it on to success.

Over a interval of just about 130 years, on the pitch, within the stands and within the dugout women and men have worn the shirt, sung their songs, and a dynasty of really nice managers have received 19 league titles, and amassed six European Cups. Your reckless actions risked trashing all of that, and for what? More cash?

Any Liverpool supporter may have advised you that no sum of money may ever compensate for the lack of such a legacy, if solely you had requested. As an alternative, now we have confronted days of uncertainty and pointless angst.

To present you a sign of how arduous the final 72 hours have been for many people, contemplate this. I’ve been supporting this membership for 5 many years now. I’ve lived in and close to to Anfield my entire life. This membership is part of who I’m and my moods are as aligned to its fortunes because the tides of the Mersey are to the moon. So, being locked out of the stadium I’ve genuinely come to name residence for 12 months has been arduous to bear.

A general, aerial view of Anfield (Goodison Park) (PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

One factor that has stored me going all through lockdown has been my hope, that sooner or later I’d take my place on the Kop once more. The day I renewed my season ticket was a milestone alongside the street to normality. Then, on Sunday, it felt just like the rug had been pulled from underneath our ft. Many people started to marvel if we might even be within the Premier League or Champions League subsequent season. After ready 30 years for a league title, would we now be stripped of it due to the actions of distant house owners. It’s no exaggeration to say I used to be heartbroken.

Now it’s over. Identical to that. You challenge your apology and you progress on. Till the subsequent time.

I’m left questioning, simply what had been you considering? Both you knew precisely how we might react and selected to hold on regardless, considering you can journey out the storm. Or, you merely hadn’t realized out of your previous experiences. Solely you already know which, and to be trustworthy I can’t resolve which clarification is worse.

The true query although is, the place will we go from right here? My intestine advised me to affix the refrain suggesting that your possession is untenable and whatever the challenges it might create, placing the membership up on the market is the one viable choice.

Nevertheless, every part I’ve witnessed in soccer since 1992 tells me that we could solely be swapping one set of profit-hungry house owners for an additional. As followers, we as soon as extra discover ourselves between the satan and the deep blue sea. This can not proceed for lengthy earlier than the bond all of us really feel with this membership is damaged eternally.

I’m keen to acknowledge your achievements since 2010. The Fundamental Stand redevelopment, The coaching base at Kirkby, the plans for Anfield Highway, bringing in Jurgen and amassing this unimaginable squad who’ve achieved a lot, may all be worthy legacies of your possession.  Sadly, future generations should weigh these in opposition to the embarrassment and anger attributable to your varied misadventures, the newest of which has severely broken our popularity and tarnished our achievements.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, September 9, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and owner John W. Henry during the Liverpool FC Main Stand opening event at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In your apology, you once more point out that you’ve the golf equipment curiosity at coronary heart. I’m reminded of an open letter you despatched to Spirit of Shankly in 2012, wherein you concluded:

“Lastly, I can say with authority that our possession shouldn’t be about revenue. Opposite to in style opinion, house owners not often become involved in sports activities with the intention to generate money. They often become involved with a membership with the intention to compete and work for the advantage of their membership. It’s typically troublesome. In our case we work each day with the intention to generate revenues to enhance the membership.

“Now we have just one driving ambition at Liverpool and that’s the quest to win the Premier League enjoying the type of soccer our supporters need to see. That can solely happen if we do completely the correct issues to construct the membership in a means that is sensible for supporters, for us and for individuals who will comply with us.

“We’ll ship what each long-term supporter of Liverpool Soccer Membership aches for.”

Noble sentiments certainly, and I acknowledge the membership has now received the Premier League. Nevertheless, I’d draw your consideration to the sentence highlighted. As a result of, inside these phrases could lie your salvation. In the event you genuinely need to construct the membership in a means that is sensible for the supporters and also you, then there’s a means for FSG to construct a extra optimistic legacy.

You have to grow to be a part of the change that’s wanted in soccer. It’s essential to lead and never be bounced into the correct factor by protest and sanction. Meaning supporting and delivering larger supporter involvement at board degree. Involving followers representatives extra will guarantee related errors received’t occur sooner or later.

You additionally must be extra proactive on ticket costs, assist supporters who journey to matches and advocate for them in negotiations with broadcasters over scheduling. Whereas I don’t communicate for Spirit of Shankly or Spion Kop 1906, they do communicate for me. I consider that in the event you interact immediately with them in good religion, they’ll enable you to guide, and possibly there shall be a means again for you and FSG.

Possibly, Liverpool FC can grow to be a beacon of supporter engagement with followers on the coronary heart of the membership’s resolution making. What a really historic legacy that may be.

After all, this can be a letter written extra in hope than expectation. In fact, like many fellow supporters, I’m not satisfied my phrases will resonate with you. Show me mistaken.

Jeff Goulding

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