OPINION: LIVERPOOL FOOTBALL CLUB SHOULD BE DEEPLY ASHAMED OF HILLSBOROUGH SNUB
LFC SNUB HILLSBOROUGH FAMILIES AND SURVIVORS AGAIN
There probably isn’t much to add to this, maybe other than some background that doesn’t really cover the issues in detail. The Hillsborough Justice Campaign have today issued a statement – reluctantly – about Liverpool Football Club’s decision to snub their request to acknowledge the passing of a man who did an immeasurable amount of good for Hillsborough families and survivors.
There is more than one group that represents the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster – the Hillsborough Justice Campaign (HJC) and the Hillsborough Support Group (HFSG) are the two that will be most familiar to Liverpool fans.
With the battle for justice extending as it did for an incredible number of years, the best part of three decades, it was inevitable that some members of the original group would disagree with some others.
There’s no need to take sides.
Some families didn’t agree with other families on a number of different issues, including how much support (if any) should be given to the countless survivors who suffer from PTSD to this day. Not every survivor survived.
The HFSG’s choice to not recognise the survivors as being in need of support was a major factor that led to the formation of the second group, the HJC.
To put it very simply, families (and survivors) would be able to join the group that they felt best represented what they wanted.
Some families are not represented by either group, choosing instead, at whatever stage, to deal with the awful situation of losing a loved in such unimaginable circumstances, and the prolongment of their suffering, in their own ways.
Liverpool Football Club pretty much refuses to even acknowledge the existence of the HJC. A group that was formed a hell of a long time ago now and that still represents far more families than should need to be represented when you consider that all their loved ones did was to try to and watch a football game.
So, the club will do practically anything the HFSG asks it to, which is fair enough. Or it would be if the club did the same for the HJC.
The club refuses, point blank, to deal with the HJC.
As the HFSG state in their Twitter profile: “We represent 77 of the 96. We are the group recognised by LFC.”
Whether the HFSG mean it to sound this way or not, those two sentences give an impression almost is if only 77 of the 96 matter. 77 families are recognised by LFC, the rest? Well, maybe they can just go to hell.
The HFSG may not mean it but given the way the club treat the HJC families – and survivors – that’s certainly how it feels. If there is animosity between the HFSG and HJC it is not for the club – or any of us – to take sides. On the vast majority of issues there is no reasonable excuse whatsoever for the club to snub the HJC in favour of the HFSG.
Both groups should be recognised, only one of them is.
Liverpool FC are aware at the highest levels of just how hurtful this situation is to those families – and perhaps just as importantly, those survivors – who are represented by the HJC.
Yet Liverpool FC – at the highest levels – refuses to deal with the situation in anything like the caring way most Liverpool supporters would expect, from their club, one that markets itself so heavily on how much of a great club it is.
This has been highlighted in the clearest terms by the club’s response to a request from the HJC to mark the passing of a very special man who meant a great deal to Hillsborough families and survivors.
Gerry McIver, a familiar face to anyone who popped into the HJC shop – that sits just across the road from the newly renovated Main Stand the club opened to much fanfare yesterday – recently passed away. Gerry had no personal connection to the disaster at all but gave up a great deal of his time for many years of his life to help the HJC in as many different ways as he could.
His loss was felt strongly by a great number of people.
The HJC asked the club to mark his passing. The club, having taken a great deal of time to think about it, said no.
The HJC published a statement today, reluctantly, sharing the content of the corporate, legal-sounding, letter the club sent to them explaining its shallow reasons for refusal. You can read this below, or view it on Facebook.
We have thought long and hard before publishing this post. However, we feel that supporters of the HJC have a right to know that LFC do not recognise the HJC and therefore, by implication, survivors of the disaster. Following on from the death of Gerry McIver, the club was approached and asked to acknowledge his passing. It took three weeks for them to respond. This is what they said:
Apologies for the delay in replying. Before coming back to you on this issue I wanted to speak to our club media team and also to the Hillsborough families who we always consult with on any Hillsborough related activity that the club is being requested to activate.
As background, LFC have always taken the majority view of the Hillsborough families as it relates to any support or activity. To date the majority of families are members of the HFSG and therefore our main consultation forum is the HFSG. On speaking to the Committee recently we have agreed with them a protocol which will see LFC acknowledge the passing of any immediate family member of the 96 by way of a personal letter to the family from the club. Should the family request an acknowledgement via the club website then we will activate this at the families’ request.
With regard to any member of the public who are not an immediate relative to the 96 victims, given the protocol above as agreed with the HFSG the we would not acknowledge anyone on our club channels unless they are an immediate family member of the 96 victims and the surviving family request the club to do so.
I’m sorry again it’s taken a wee bit of time to come back to you but we are aware of the sensitivities as it relates to Hillsborough and wanted to check in with HFSG before advising.
There is no excuse for this. None at all. It is time that Ian Ayre, the CEO of the club who is fully aware of the hurt and anguish the club’s position continues to cause Hillsborough families and survivors, does what should be expected from anyone in the privileged position he is in at Liverpool Football Club.
John W Henry and his entourage should be calling into the HJC shop today to offer, in person, their deep apologies for way their club has treated those families, survivors and supporters of justice for far too long.
They won’t, of course, because they’ll no doubt be given a line by Ian Ayre or one of the faceless people around him – if they get to hear of this disgraceful treatment at all – playing it all down as “noise”.
It isn’t just noise, it’s far more than that, and for a football club like Liverpool to refuse to even put a simple message of condolence on some or all of its many communication channels – maybe a message on the website or a small article in the match programme – is inexcusable.
Haven’t the HJC done enough fighting without having to fight with Liverpool Football Club for even a token amount of recognition?
For all Liverpool fans who are going to the game today, take a few minutes out of your normal pre-match routine – if it isn’t already part of it – and pop into the HJC shop to show some support.
Grab some “Don’t Buy The S*n” stickers, stick a couple of quid in the bucket on the counter, buy a badge or a t-shirt, but remind them, as if they didn’t know already, that they may not have the support of the club that their loved ones died watching, but – as always – they’ve got the support of the fans.
Justice for the 96. Justice For All.