Liverpool owner produces mea culpa over European Super League mistake

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As one of the most storied clubs in English football, Liverpool is a club that is known to be ‘different’ to most English clubs. For one, the mantra of many in the city itself is simple: Scouse, not English. Liverpool sees itself different in terms of culture and political thinking to much of the rest of the United Kingdom. However, despite being a club with local origins and a history of employing coaches who could otherwise have run for political office, the current ownership group have never had the same connection to the people.

And while German coach Jurgen Klopp has done the best to carry on the ethos and thinking of people like Bill Shankly, its clear the ownership have other views. Fenway Sports Group, or FSG, have made numerous gaffes since arriving in England. From ticket pricing mistakes to furloughing staff without justification last year, there have been quite a few PR disasters since they came into the club. The latest – to break away from English football and join a European Super League – was seen as one mistake too many.

It has led the club to quickly move into damage limitation mode, especially after barely-concealed annoyance from Klopp and club captain Jordan Henderson. The withdrawal came quickly, but not before arguably permanent PR damage was done to the ownership. Despite saving Liverpool from likely bankruptcy from previous owners, the regular mistakes and missteps have left many Reds fans unhappy with FSG.

The latest apology, then, has not gone down anywhere near as well as the ownership might have hoped. Despite playing a major role in reviving Liverpool to domestic and European glory, and appointing Klopp, the damage done to their relationship with the fans could be terminal.

What was said?

Liverpool’s primary owner John W Henry came out with a statement on Wednesday morning. After a brief statement the night before confirming their exit from the ESL plans, actual wording from the ownership was invisible. This infuriated fans who wanted to hear some kind of apology from the club over what has been a major mistake. That apology has now arrived, with Henry saying: want to apologise to all the fans and supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the disruption I caused over the past 48 hours.

“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.

“And I want to apologise to Jurgen, to Billy, to the players and to everyone who works so hard at LFC to make our fans proud. They have absolutely no responsibility for this disruption. They were the most disrupted and unfairly so. This is what hurts most. They love your club and work to make you proud every single day.”

He continued, saying: “I know the entire LFC team has the expertise, leadership and passion necessary to rebuild trust and help us move forward. More than a decade ago when we signed up for the challenges associated with football, we dreamed of what you dreamed of. And we’ve worked hard to improve your club. Our work isn’t done. And I hope you’ll understand that even when we make mistakes, we’re trying to work in your club’s best interests. In this endeavour I’ve let you down.

“Again, I’m sorry, and I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days. It’s something I won’t forget. And shows the power the fans have today and will rightly continue to have.

“If there’s one thing this horrible pandemic has clearly shown, it’s how crucial fans are to our sport and to every sport. It’s shown in every empty stadium. It’s been an incredibly tough year for all of us; virtually no one unaffected. It’s important that the Liverpool football family remains intact, vital and committed to what we’ve seen from you globally, with local gestures of kindness and support. I can promise you I will do whatever I can to further that.

“Thanks for listening.”

For most fans, though, the damage is done – there is no correction, no forgiveness to come.

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