In the second of our Q+A's with supporters groups we spoke to the Spirit Of Shankly union who are an independent group that represent Liverpool FC supporters. Taking our questions was Paul Gardner who is the groups Secretary. We discussed the importance of independent supporters groups and how to remain positive during the tougher times for a supporter.
A huge thanks to Paul Gardner for taking the time to answer our questions.
Feel free to leave your thoughts and any follow up questions in the comments section below.
Liverpool Supporters' Union, or Spirit of Shankly as we are more widely known, were formed in January 2008. We were established after a meeting of around 400 supporters in the birthplace of Liverpool FC, the Sandon. The meeting was called to look at what could be done against the then owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett who had placed massive debt on the club and had not delivered on the stadium they promised. On the night it was soon realised that there were many other issues aside from Hicks and Gillett. Such as issues over paying ridiculous amounts to travel to away games, particularly European aways. It was decided an organisation was needed that could campaign to get rid of Hicks and Gillett, but also represent supporters on issues they have when supporting Liverpool.
Q. At Blackpool we have two Supporters Groups. One is officially affiliated with the Club and the other, SISA, is independent. Do you see the formation of an independent supporters group as a necessary and important step for a clubs supporters?
An independent, active and well run supporters group is a very important step for a clubs supporters. It provides a focal point for supporters to raise concerns and to work together for the betterment of not only the supporter, but also the club. Being independent from the club has additional challenges, but being this ensures that supporters concerns can be raised without worry that they are being curtailed by a club agenda. If we have more clubs with strong independent supporters groups that work together we will see massive change in the game that many supporters want.
Q. Two of SISA's aims this year are to become a Supporters Trust and to have Bloomfield Road registered as an Asset Of Community Value. What aims do the Spirit Of Shankly Group have in the short, medium and long term?
We have constant, short, medium, long and ultimate aims which are part of our constitution and are fundamental to what we do. These can be found on our website here:
Spirit Of Shankly - Aims
Q. Finally, how did you and your fellow fans manage to keep positive during periods when it seemed that the challenges for supporters seemed insurmountable or when faced with really difficult circumstances?
It can be very challenging at times and during the harder times of a campaign it can get you down. You have to always work for small victories along the way. Gaining those small victories can help with the wider campaign whatever that may be by giving you additional backing and support from other supporters and improving your standing. You have to focus on what is winnable and work towards them along the way to your long term and ultimate goals. As an organisation that is now 6 years old we are in a position to do things now that we would not have been able to achieve in the very early days. It is important to have that perspective and to know with time and a large amount of passion for the cause you will get to where you want to be.
For more information on Liverpool Supporters' union click here