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FSG have been given key to future of Liverpool and John Henry must keep his word

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The talks were noted as being 'positive'.

For Fenway Sports Group they had plenty of questions to answer during their meeting with Liverpool fan group Spirit of Shanly, the Reds' owners part in one of the most shameful episodes in modern football having to explained.



Liverpool CEO Billy Hogan met with representatives of SOS, with the fans' group making their voices heard and making it clear that a change in approach was needed in order to chart a new course with FSG out of the mess that was the failed European Super League plot.



FSG principal owner John W. Henry, through a video apology a fortnight ago, had already told Reds fans how he had miscalculated the Super League, his failure to understand the deep-rooted love for tradition and how close English football fans cherish their very unique pyramid system.



There have been calls for FSG to sell up and move on, but that seems highly unlikely and sources in the US believe that it isn't on the agenda in the short term. The meeting between FSG and SOS does seem to suggest that the Liverpool owners want to forge a more meaningful relationship moving forward, where fans have a greater say and there is more transparency over the decision making process.

On Tuesday evening, SOS made it clear what they want to see moving forward following their meeting with FSG.

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A statement read: "At the meeting SOS tabled the following requests:

Two SOS representatives at LFC board level in relation to issues that impact fans and the Anfield community as a whole. This would involve a reconstitution of the LFC board that includes effective, elected and accountable fan representation, and not for members of the current LFC board to be that elected representative. This cannot be token representation, but one that has the ‘golden share’ or veto on the decision-making process. We believe this is desirable, practical and achievable both in the short and long-term. A formal agreement between LFC and Athletic Grounds Ltd and SOS in order to improve collaboration and supporter engagement and involvement, and to ensure this is sustainable for the future. FSG and LFC collaborate with SOS to lead the reform agenda ahead of/in conjunction with the national fan-led review. We also asked for a commitment from FSG that any costs incurred in relation to the creation of and withdrawal from the European Super League will be funded solely by the owners and not by the club. We note that the Kroenke family have already made this commitment to Arsenal FC fans.

"These motions were acknowledged, and received, by LFC. They have taken these away for discussion and will respond formally to SOS with a further local meeting expected in the coming days.

"This initial consultation was positive, and both parties agreed there is a need for a new structure leading to meaningful and lasting supporter engagement."

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But how likely is it that we will see change implemented to the level that SOS and the wider fan base would like to see?

The first point is the one that would see the biggest changes should it be brought about, and likely the one that would face more push back from FSG than the others.

German football's '50+1 Rule' in the Bundesliga, where fans ultimately hold final sway over the decision making process, has been widely praised. It has enabled stadiums to remain full and ticket prices to stay low, making the game more accessible to fans in local areas.

But there are those who argue that the same model couldn't be implemented in English football, certainly not overnight, with the sheer volume of money and investment in the Premier League meaning that it would be highly unlikely to get a uniform approach from club owners given that they would be handing over voting rights to a business worth potentially billions. It would also be a pretty hard thing to enshrine into law.

Mehmet Dalman, chairman of Cardiff City, told the Daily Telegraph: "It's simply not workable.

"I'm all in favour of not losing the soul of football, but in any corporation, any company, why would you give somebody a golden share to block you from minimising your losses or maximising your gains? It goes against every principle of capitalism and every principle of capital markets."

But does that mean that FSG would immediately discount the very reasonable and sensible request from SOS as being simply too far beyond what they would be willing to accept?

Chelsea have been the first club involved in the Super League plans to try and find some kind of common ground with fans, committing to allow three elected 'supporter advisors' to attend four board meetings per year. They wouldn't be afforded voting privileges but would be on hand to offer advice on decisions moving forward.

It is a move that goes some way to building bridges, but with no voting rights to be had is it merely a case of paying lip service?

The proposals from SOS on the first point seem fair. It is not a request to be allowed a golden share of veto on decisions such as how much money is made available to Jurgen Klopp, but about how their voices are heard, and their votes realised, when it comes to matters concerning the very fabric of the club and its place in the community.

What's to stop a new constitution being written that clearly outlines an agreed framework over where a golden share or a veto can be used? Having such a framework in place would allow FSG the ability to operate the business and footballing side as they seen appropriate while, at the same time, having the ability for fans to put the handbrake on decisions that would damage the core values of what the football club stand for.

Jordan Gardner, a US investor who has minority stakes in Swansea City and Dundalk, and owns Danish Super Liga side Helsingør, told the ECHO's Blood Red Podcast last month: "I don't think it would ever go as far as a complete 50+1 type model.

"But I can see a model where a certain percentage of equity and a certain percentage of big picture decision making might have to be owned by the fans. It could be a situation where the fans have a veto right on any huge decisions like leaving your domestic competition.

"I guess that there has to be some sort of middle ground where the fans can maintain the history and the culture and make sure that the system that they love and that they support isn't thrown out, while also making sure that these clubs are run well and efficient."

Points two and three that have been laid out by SOS are more than reasonable.

If FSG want to own Liverpool and have the fans on board and navigate their way out of the mess that they created for themselves then they have to open up to collaboration with supporters.

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Being a US owner based on the other side of the Atlantic, it is very easy to be aloof and crop up when it is a time of celebrating great success or showing contrition for horrendous mistakes made.

An ongoing dialogue between fans and supporters is key, with as much transparency as possible. And it needs to be FSG driving the agenda for change, even more so than the fans. If the contrition was real in the wake of the failed European Super League plan then now is the time to prove that by leading from the front.

On the fourth and final point, Stan Kroenke's commitment to Arsenal fans that it will be he who bears the financial burden of the failure of the Super League and not the club means that FSG really have no out on this topic.

Henry himself said that this was his mistake and his mistake alone. If that is true then it is only right that he takes the financial hit from such a mistake. It is completely unacceptable to lay any such financial penalties that may be coming the way of FSG as the Super League plans continue to unravel land at the door of Liverpool, hampering the ability of Klopp to keep them competitive with the rest of the field.

The message should be one of 'you broke it, you pay for it'.

This was not Liverpool's mistake, nor was it Manchester United's, Manchester City's, Chelsea's, Tottenham Hotspur's or Arsenal's. It was the mistakes of those who act as custodians of these football institutions.

There has to be change in the wake of this. There has to be change to show that clubs are sorry and there has to be change to demonstrate that this doomed plot won't be returning in another guise at a times when fans have let their guards down.

Owners are custodians of the clubs, the fans are the guardians of them. That needs to be recognised.


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