Would it hurt LFC to consult all Hillsborough families? #LFCKIT

AT midnight last night the deal that saw Adidas as official kit supplier to Liverpool FC came to an end as the new contract with Warrior Sports kicked-in. After much build-up and expectation the new home shirt for the 2012-13 season was revealed by the club.

The contract is lucrative for the club – and includes for the first time an agreement to produce a new home kit every season rather than every other season – and although many fans would buy the new shirt regardless of how it looked it’s of course important to make sure it will appeal to as many supporters as possible.

Liverpool’s badge – or logo if you prefer – was changed some years back to incorporate not only the Liverbird but also the Shankly Gates and more significantly the eternal flame in memory of the 96 supporters who died as a result of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. The new shirts have gone back to a variation on the previous badge – the Liverbird with the lettering “L.F.C.” underneath and no eternal flame.

Instead of having the flames on the front of the shirt in the club’s crest they are now on the back of the shirt, two flames either side of the number “96”.

Whether this change is good, bad or otherwise is of course an individual choice and on the whole the change seems to have been well received. What hasn’t been well received is the way the change was communicated to those who matter most – the families of the victims.

Some of the families are represented by The Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG), the group set up first in the aftermath of the disaster. Others are represented by The Hillsborough Justice Campaign (HJC), a group set up later by some families who felt a different approach was needed in terms of the fight for justice for the victims – and survivors – of that day in 1989. Some time after this another group was set up, Hope For Hillsborough, by Anne Williams, the mother of Kevin Williams. As well as these three groups there are some individual family members who have chosen, for their own reasons, not to be a part of any of the groups.

LFC's home kit for 2012-13, with the badge from the 2010-12 kit bottom right

LFC's 2012-13 home kit, with new badge and flames on rear. Bottom right: Badge from the 2010-12 kit.

When there was only one group the club had one point of contact when it needed to discuss any issues that might be of concern or importance to the families. However it was perhaps inevitable that with such a large number of bereaved families there would come a time when some of those families would see things differently to others, that divisions could start to form and that sooner or later a split would take place.

To those of us who aren’t bereaved family members or survivors of the disaster it should not matter a great deal why those splits took place. There is always more than one side to a story and given the unthinkable grief and anguish those people have been through it isn’t our place to judge their actions. If the authorities had seen fit to meet their responsibilities instead of continually trying to cover up the failings of others we would never have been in a position where that fight for the truth was still going on a year after the disaster, let alone almost a quarter of a century later.

Each of those family members is an individual, as is each survivor. They have their own feelings and opinions and deserve equal respect for what they have been through. That said, it would be difficult for the club to maintain close contact with every individual family member. There were 96 who died. Children with a mum and dad as well as brothers or sisters. Older victims who had a spouse and children of their own as well as their own parents and siblings. A lot of individuals had their lives shattered by that disaster.

But the club doesn’t need to contact every one of those individual family members. It just needs to contact the three groups that represent the vast majority of them.

Would it be difficult?

Rumours of the change to the badge were floating around the internet for some time, as rumours about new kits usually do. The first official hint at this rumour being true came in the minutes of the Supporters’ Committee meeting in March. The club clearly understood the importance of contacting the families about the change, yet chose to contact only one of the three groups.

We’ll never know if the club would have changed their plans in the face of opposition from family members, we don’t really know if the family members would have felt the need to show any opposition. All of those family members are individuals and that flame in that crest means whatever it means to each of them. But at least if they’re told, before the rest of the world, what’s going to happen to that badge they can deal with it in whatever way it is they need to deal with it.

By letting the three points of contact know about it, they can be told about it sensitively.

Had those minutes not been issued, had that question not been raised, some of those family members wouldn’t have even known the flame had gone until today when they saw the pictures of the new kit.

Would it hurt the club to keep all three groups in the loop?

The club don’t need to take sides – none of us do. It isn’t taking sides to speak to all three groups about matters of this nature. But by essentially ignoring some of the groups it shows a lack of respect to the individual bereaved family members belonging to those groups.

If the new stadium ever becomes a reality, or if the difficulties of redeveloping Anfield are ever overcome, a decision needs to be made on what to do about the eternal flame on Anfield Road. Will the club ignore the other families when it comes to making that decision too?

The HJC issued a statement expressing their thoughts on how the change to the badge was communicated:


The HJC are aware of an amendment to the new 2012/13 kit, which has recently been launched. We have also noted that the Hillsborough flames and “96” will now appear on the back of the shirt, “after consultation” with “family members”.

We can confirm that no bereaved families of the HJC were contacted or consulted. Indeed the first we were aware of this was via the Supporters Committee Minutes of their March meeting.

Once again LFC has chosen to ignore the HJC and their families. The continued refusal of the club to acknowledge the HJC is insensitive, divisive and deplorable. 96 is more than a number. LFC would do well to remember that.

Some individuals at the club do go out of their way to keep all the groups in the loop and to help publicise campaigns and events relating to those groups. It’s a massive shame that this doesn’t seem to reflect overall club policy, for reasons never satisfactorily explained.

And as the HJC clarified, via social networks, their issue isn’t with the decision to use a different badge or to move the flames to the back of the shirt: “To clarify: HJC’s issue is not with the design of the shirt. Our concerns are with the fact that, despite LFC stating that families were consulted during the design process, no families within the HJC were ever contacted.

By contacting all the groups this feeling some families have of being excluded would be lessened if not removed. It would hurt Liverpool far less to include all the groups than it hurts the individuals who feel ignored.


  • Dave Perry

    Excellent piece, well put and will hopefully educate many who are not aware of the different groups and reasons behind HJC’s concerns.

  • Seb

    I love and admire all the work HJC are doing and of course i am all for JFT96. But in this case it just seams that they are moaning over nothing really. The flames are there, 96 are there. Okay, it’s on the back but it looks great there.

    I can’t see what the problem is. Maybe it’s a bigger problem with LFC and HJC so they will just complain about every little thing that they aren’t apart of.

    I can’t begin to imagine what those 96 families have gone through over the years, but I just feel that this shouldn’t matter as much as JFT96.

    YNWA, JFT96.

    • HJC aren’t complaining about the changes. They’re unhappy that their group was excluded from consultations about it. If nothing else it would at least have been polite to mention it to them.

    • Michael

      Jim, I think it is a great piece, I read the original statement from the HJC and thought exactly the same as you. Only you put it more calmly than I would have. Well done.
      As for some of the comments you have received I just don’t get it, well more to the point the people writing them haven’t, they never came close!

  • Browny

    I think this is rubbish!!

    The club and all fans care about the 96, so any implication that they dont, is pure crap.

    The badge with the shankley gates on, was a monstrosity and needed to be redesigned! I have thought this since it was changed! The flames are important and I think having them separate gives them more importance!!

    How many rival fans pay attention to the finer detail of a clubs badge? Not many.. But the flames and the number in a position on their own, gets people noticing it!

    Stop looking for negatives rather than positives.

    • Nobody has complained about the changes as far as I know. The complaint is that (not for the first time) the HJC feel as though they are excluded by the club. If that’s not the case the club need to sort that perception out. If it is the case I’d like to hear the club’s reasons for it.

      It’s not a lot to ask.

  • Tony Montana

    I think the 96 and two flames is a unique and touching tribute to those whose lost their lifes that day. The 96 are now on our shirt, think how many people will say “what does 96 stand for” it will educate for years to come and ensure they are never forgotten. LFC have done us proud.

    • I’m quite happy with the way they’ve moved the flames too – and as far as I know nobody has a problem with that at all. That’s not the issue being raised.

  • patrick

    “insensitive, divisive and deplorable” That is ridiculous saying stuff like that about Liverpool. If they’ve no problem with the kit then they’re just power hungry. Next they’ll be moaning about transfers, no wonder Liverpool ignore them..

    • “Power hungry”? Patrick you fit the “insensitive, divisive and deplorable” tag quite well yourself.

      • Bill

        Perhaps it is personal attacks like that against anyone who questions your opinion which have something to do with the club’s decision to exclude you? Why did you need to air your grievances publicly? Why are HJC so keen to damage the club publicly?

  • REDseptember

    Sorry, but i have to say i personally believe articles like this are unhelpful. It is very very obvious how the club feel about all of our friends (the 96) and always show fantastic respect toward all. I havn’t heard of nor have i read anything that would suggest the badge change has annoyed anyone,therefore knowing how the media have and continue to treat us i don’t believe we should “create headlines” for them……… We are not divided… JFT 96 YNWA.

  • kopite1968

    liverpool fc badge was and is the liverbird, ok we all know and understand what the significance of the added parts of the badge symbolize, its not as though the memorial at the ground has been destroyed and removed,

    • Kopite1968 – If it’s not significant – as you suggest – why consult anyone? The issue for HJC is that HFSG were consulted and others weren’t.

      • Matt redfield

        I agree that it probably wouldnt have been hard to contact all the groups but let’s be honest, its not as if the HFSG would have made a different decision to the other groups anyway, they said that they contacted ‘family members’ which should be enough as all the families have gone through the same thing. It just sounds more like they picked a sample rather than contacting everyone which really shouldn’t be a problem. Much ado about nothing in my opinion. If there’s nothing wrong with the kit (which there isn’t, it now has MORE meaning for the 96 in my opinion) then there’s no need for complaints, I think there’s a bit too much over sensitivity being thrown around.

  • Rob Taylor

    It wouldn’t hurt, no… it would not have hurt LFC to ask, but it could have made an already thorny issue an academic one. To involve groups on an official basis may open the club up to massive problems that could ruin the whole concept.

    There is a ban on all political statements on shirts, this means to put 96 on the shirt at all would have meant some serious restrictions and negotiations on LFC’s part. If it is true that HFSG were contacted but HJC were not, it could be as simple as HJC being percieved by FIFA as a “political” organization; as they are actively pursuing (the well deserved) justice for the 96 through legal and political channels.

    Had their member families been involved as the HJC group then it could have given ammo to FIFA or the PL to say no to the whole idea. I am sure the idea was not to snub the HJC, simply to make sure the tribute could go ahead without unnecessary complications.

    It is overlooked that one of the major people within Liverpool who would have a say in this is our captain, and his family lost one of the 96. As such it is entirely possible that Steven Gerrard was involved along with other families with close ties to the club, streamlining the process. This would make Liverpool’s statement accurate, that families were consulted.

    As someone who has organised a logo-rebranding (which this is for LFC as a club AND a brand) in the past, it genuinely is a minefield. There is always someone who feels they should have been asked or whose idea would have been great if it had been found. But the best way is often to have a few ideas, a focus group and decide. There are corporate issues to consider, The new owners have a line to tread in being responsible owners and protecting the unique legacy of the club, as now do Warrior. The new kit manufacturers have certain things they must achieve, shareholders to please and fans to win over.

    From what I can see LFC and Warrior have done a good job with this new kit, it takes us back to what makes us Liverpool and ensures any player or fan who wears it will have 96 angels on their shoulder and will Never Walk Alone!

    • Rob,

      If we were only talking about a shirt you might have a point. Well actually you wouldn’t. If it was down to worries about political statements then there wouldn’t have been “The Truth” or “JFT96” mosaics on The Kop.

      LFC did consult families. Families connected to HFSG. But they didn’t speak to HJC, who only found out by accident.

      The only politics on play are whatever politics have seen HJC all but excluded by the club, or parts of the club, since forming in the late nineties.

  • mark

    I think 90% of fans would prefer the liverbird on it’s own as the emblem.

    The club has been fantastic in it’s support of the victims of Hillsborough and to start criticising them for changing a shirt without consulting the HJC over 20 years later is going too far.

    How many years do you think the club should be oblgiated to consult the HJC on kit design, 50 years, 100 years? It has to come to an end at some point. Changing a logo doesn’t mean people are forgotton. There is still the memorial etc.

    • Try to think a bit Mark, instead of automatically defending the club. LFC chose to consult HFSG over the kit, suggesting they felt it was important to do so. How many years they’ll think they need to do that for is irrelevant, that’s not the issue being raised. Nobody has – to my knowledge – complained about the change to the badge and the location of the flame. The complaint is that (not for the first time) a large number of the families have been ignored and left out. If you’re going to consult one group, consult the others. Is it really a lot to ask? It’s not just the shirt, but in the case of the shirt how much time must have been spent in meetings looking at designs and strategies and the rest of it? It would have taken a couple of hours, for example, to meet HJC.

  • Stuart Baggs

    I think it is a fantastic article well thought out and well written but three issues with consulting the three groups are as follows:

    1) what if a family is not part of any of the groups. Their voice is unheard.

    2) What if “Group A” gets together and decides they wanted to keep the badge as it was, but 3 families within that group disagreed. Those three families have no voice and may end up splintering off to form a fourth group that would have to be listened to. So the next decision would have to consult 4 groups….etc

    3) There could well be disagreements within familes. It is entirely possible that the Mother of a victim may have a different view to that of the victim’s brother. So we would then need to extend it out even further.

    The problem with this is that the Club have tried to do the right thing and have consulted some of the families of the victims of that day.

    I do not know who they have talked to, whether it was only HFSG members or whether HFH families were consulted or if they consulted other families (if we have any) that are not members of any group.

    It is such an emotive subject that I fear the club can do no right on this issue. Someone will be upset by the change. If you look at the support that the club has given through the years it is a shame that the reaction has not been as positive as it possibly could.

    • Stuart,

      From what I can tell and what I’ve been told in terms of 1) those families aren’t part of any groups because they’ve chosen to try and put it all behind them, they’ve chosen to cope with it in a different way. In terms of 2) – and it’s just my opinion – consulting doesn’t mean asking for permission. In 23 years there have been far bigger issues that could have split people than the badge and it’s still only three groups. 3) Chances are those disagreements within families do exist – but those families can discuss their differences within their own groups, as I’m sure they do. The club have three points of contact to go to.

      And this badge isn’t the first issue the club have chosen to exclude HJC and HFH from. Would it hurt to include all three groups? To have regular meetings with all three groups?

      Nobody – as far as I know – is upset by the change to the way the flames are represented, the designs, any of it. The issue is that of being excluded from the discussions.

      • Peter

        If nobody cares about the change, cares about the design, cares about the kit, then why all the outrage at not being spoken to? If they don’t really care then it makes it a non-issue. If it’s solely because another group is spoken to then it comes down to the politics of those two/three groups, with Liverpool Football Club in the middle.

        What really irks me, and of course being a Liverpool Supporter I may naturally defend the club, is the statement made by HJC…
        “The continued refusal of the club to acknowledge the HJC is insensitive, divisive and deplorable – 96 is more than a number. LFC would do well to remember that.”

        Liverpool Football Club has done so much for the fight for the 96 to say such negative things is a disgrace. Remember, this is all over consultation of a badge on a kit. If this is how one of the groups react then maybe there are reasons the club do not associate themselves with the HJC. From my understanding HJC deals with the more political side of Hillsborough, whereas the group the club consulted with deals more with supporting the families. This means any association with the HJC can lead the club down avenues they don’t want to go. I understand you refer to the ‘JFT96’ mosaic, etc but they were done in the moment, with time to sit down and think of something all parties believe in but without any sign of ‘aggression’. ‘Siding’ with a group that is taking on politics can lead to rather sticky consequences down the line. An example of this is SOS. When FSG were taking over they (again I’ve been led to believe) consulted with SOS. I hated this because 1) They do not speak for me as a Liverpool Supporter, and 2) SOS were recorded singing Munich songs at a ‘gathering’. If the clubs new owners officially linked themselves to SOS that video would go viral and it would quite rightly be a PR disaster. I’m not saying HJC are likely to do anything so disgraceful, but they may say or do something politically the club does not agree with. On the other hand, there may be other reasons with the club does not talk to HJC but due to the raw emotive nature of Hillsborough it isn’t wise to air them.

        There’s three groups for a reason, they don’t see eye to eye on certain things. It’s understandable to assume that out of all the families, all the groups it’s plausible one would be against the change. What then? It’s best to side with the supporting group than the fighting one. I feel the club does more than it has to with regards to Hillsborough and it should be applauded for still honouring and remembering the 96.

        I will say this though… You mention, as do HJC, that this isn’t the first time Liverpool FC have ignored them. If so, why finally come out and say it over something they don’t even have an issue with? It makes people like myself feel that this is more political, and one group wanting to be considered the main campaign group. As I said previously, there is a reason there are more than one group. They don’t agree on certain issues and feel what they believe is the right way to go. All three groups should fight their own way if that’s what they feel with be the more efficient and effective way, but on issues such as this they should at least talk to each other.

      • steve

        Absolutely spot on. I ran a Project management consultancy for a number of years and looked after numerous projects that at times had both emotional and political sensitivity. For example relocating the graves of soldiers killed during WW11.
        My opinion based on my experience is that people like to be consulted ,shown that they are valued and their opinion matters. They do not (very rarely ) want things changed, just to be shown some common courtesy and respect.
        Their precious loved ones died following this club, is it to much to ask that they are included?
        This would have taken a few hours of someone’s time, the club has dropped the ball on this. They are doing it to often now and somebody should be taken responsibility.

  • Rob Taylor

    The biggest problem I have with this is that LFC have done “the right thing” in going for the best interests of the club, the fans and the families as the one non-political group. If some families choose to form an organisation to either campaign, support victims or lobby then they are within their rights to do so. That does not mean the club itself is obliged to engage with them as a political group on every decision however. Arguments just take the focus off what should be a proud day for our club, where we take a step no other club does in honoring its fallen.

  • Rob Taylor

    Again Jim, no it wouldn’t hurt but that is the wrong question to be asking. LFC would love to I am sure in an ideal world ask everyone. They can’t, HJC has taken the political fight for the ’96 as their own and that is noble in itself but it’s LFC’s job to make sure the club they died loving is competitive, successful and true to its values; it cannot always do that by committee or to everyone’s satisfaction.

  • Browny

    Well, I would like to be included in meetings too then!! If it doesnt hurt to include people.
    As others have said, including groups in club decisions leads to debate and public spats which are often embarrassing.
    The club is their responsibility and they have done what was best in their opinion.
    Had they removed the flames completely, you would have a very valid point, but they havent. They have given them a separate position where they stand out more.

    • What do you want to be including in meetings about? Hillsborough? Are you from one of the bereaved families?

      If not then you’re making light of something that you probably should try and show more compassion towards.

      If you do want to be involved in meetings at the club on issues that do (more directly) concern you the place to do that is through the supporters’ committee. I assume you put yourself forward when they were looking for people?

      If there’s a problem including groups in club decisions why did the club include a group in club decisions? Is it that hard to grasp? If you feel you need to involve one group then you need to involve all. Excluding one group (when there are so few groups as in this situation) is more likely to lead to public spats.

  • Stuart Baggs


    I can see your point about having the 3 groups consulted. There are lessons that the Club need to look at and possibly learn from.

    I am just your bog standard kopite who does not know enough about the split from one group to three (but fully understand how it could have happened).

    But initially the club had one group to deal with, a second group then splintered off from this and the club stuck with initial group. The club was in a no win situation then but chose it’s path and has stuck to it. I imagine when the first split happened they were concerned that there could end up being lots of different groups. In the end that has not happened. Maybe the club should start consulting with all three groups over “issues” related to Hillsborough. They are now three long standing groups.

    My only issue with doing the above is what happens If the HJC/HFSG or HFH split further and we ended up with 6 groups all wanting different the same/similar things but from different angles. Would the club have to consult them too?

    The club seem to do so much (to an outsider like me) to help all of the families, from attending the funerals, to refusing to play on the anniversary, to holding the memorial every year that I get concerned that this is missed.

    Like I say, I am just a Kopite, I lost no one that day, I have no idea what each and every one of the families have gone through since that day but I support each and every one of them and hope that they each get what the crave for closure.

    • HJC was formed about 9 years after Hillsborough, so it’s been around for 14 years or so now. If more groups did split off then that would have to be looked at when it happened. The club have had plenty of time to accept that the HJC (and more recently HFH) exist.

      I just don’t see what the problem is in finding a bit more time each month or so to meet HJC.

      If more groups did form then I would imagine the best way forward would be for each group to send representatives to one big meeting instead of many meetings.

      And if the club did find time to speak to each group we’d not be having this conversation!

      • Stuart Baggs

        I understand entirely. But the club is in a tricky position too. (Not blindly defending the club)

        Like I say great article, it has opened my eyes to a possible inbalance that should not be there, but has also left more questions than answers if they did consult all three groups….

  • Zanderdad

    Are you seriously suggesting that LFC should consult with the HJC about kit design? What about kit bags too? Or towels? Maybe even transfers to see whether proposed players are a fitting enough tribute to the 96?

    LFC has gone out of its way to help and support the families but this is what happens when you consult groups over a long period of time. They start to see it as their right, rather than a privilege bestowed temporarily upon them.

    HJC need to focus on what’s important. Gaining access to all the government files on the disaster and then moving on for the benefit of all.

    • Zanderdad – It wasn’t my idea, or the HJC’s, for the club to contact the families over the changes to the badge. It was the club’s idea. What they did wrong was to consult just one of the three groups.

      The club have changed the badge on the front of the shirt a relative handful of times since first wearing one on a shirt. I can’t see them changing again – unless they change back – for many years. No wonder, really, why they felt it was worth consulting the families. Yes – the club chose to consult the families. It just forgot to or decided not to include the two other groups.

      As for the rest of the comment, I suggest you “move on” to some other club where your rather thoughtless attitude might not make you stand out quite so much. You don’t seem to know much about this one so it shouldn’t set you back too long to learn that much about your new favourite team.

    • steve

      It is not about the design of the kit you bloody fool

  • Mark J

    I agree with the sentiment of the HJC statement and the tone of the article. It’s all too well and good to say that it’s a none issue because the HJC don’t have an issue with the actual design. What happens if they did have an issue? Then the principle stands. They should have been consulted as should have HFH.

    Since the loss of the 96 the club has changed hands on a number of occasions which to me indicates that there is something deeply entrenched within the remaining hierarchy which still decides to exclude the HJC and HFH.

    Each of the lives lost on that fateful day are just as valuable as the others. The approach of LFC in respect to shunning of the HJC and HFH while welcoming the HFSG could be seen as saying they believe the family members lost by the Members of the HFSG were more valuable than the other groups.

    Consulting doesn’t mean they should be giving a casting vote by any means it just means they should be asked for their opinion before it is launched or announced in the mainstream media. Respect for the other groups is what is missing here and I for one am ashamed that the football club I follow can do this.

    Justice for ALL not just the ones the club decides to speak to

  • stan howard

    I love the badge, St John should have launched it, it might spark a bit more pride in wearing it for a few players.

  • Red

    Perhaps the club contacted members of HFSG, the original organization.

    The HJC broke away because of politicking, and by complaining about LFC not recognizing their group & consulting them first, they turn the argument into a purely political mess; it’s a slight to their pride they are concerned about, not the 96 that they are supposed to be putting first. They would do well to drop this issue.

    • “Red” – you would do well to do a bit of research on this before coming on here with your ill-informed preaching.

      The attitude you display reminds me of those who say overseas supporters should have no say in what LFC do because overseas supporters weren’t the original supporters, that local supporters should get all the say. That’s wrong, as is your attitude towards a group that has been around for a hell of a long time.

  • Dave Gledhill

    What would happen then if they consulted all groups and they could not get to a place where all groups could come to an agreement? Would the item they were discussing not get changed at all? I too know nothing of why the groups all split, but to me it appears that the club are consulting the main group all the time which is better than not consulting anyone. Has the main group got more members still in it than the others have and if so then this may be the case as to why they always consult them and not everyone. The club does so much to remember and honour those that lost their lives that tragic day and should not have to answer questions like this because 1 or 2 groups were not consulted and have reacted badly to it.

    • Dave,

      There is no dialogue from HFSG to HJC; for reasons going back a long time the two groups just don’t have any dealings with each other. If you knew why the split happened – and without taking sides – you’d see why it’s important for the club to involve both groups (plus the relatively recently formed HFH) in any relatively significant relevant decisions or developments.

      Maybe if the club had tried harder when HJC was relatively new it would have been easier to bring them into the fold. The attitude of David Moores was a disgrace, if this version of events is accurate: http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=41379.msg631034#msg631034 (And I’m as sure as I can be that it’s accurate.)

      If the club can’t include HJC in various consultations the least it can do is just accept that “the families” means HFSG+HJC+HFH+others and stop referring to “the families” if it means HFSG alone.

      • Dave Gledhill

        whats said was said, they said their point and it was turned down, the club has obviously given this loads of thought and made its stance, going into a meeting and near on behaving like “animals” (using the term losely cant think of the right word at the moment sorry) isnt going to change their mind but just give them more ammunition to say no. maybe the best outcome would be for the club not to consult anyone at all to save all the arguing

  • Hutton121

    I thought the artical was very interesting and raised a good point.
    However when a statement is released saying things such as ” insensitive, divisive and deplorable. 96 is more than a number. LFC would do well to remember that”
    I can’t help but think that the rest of the statement carried enough punch without having to take what could be seen as a swipe at the club.
    I can see this upsetting a lot of fans who again proberbly didn’t lose anyone that day but are still effected by it and think the club does a good job in continuing to show its support and respect.
    Jim, does the HJC have any contact with the club at all over any matters?

    • @Hutton121

      I think the statement reflects the hurt and anguish that HJC families get from being snubbed by the club for so long.

      If you think how bad it feels to hear family members being snubbed by the authorities and blocked from getting information down the years it doesn’t take much imagination to work out how it must feel to be treated that way by the club as well.

      As I’ve hinted at here and elsewhere there is some contact between HJC and individuals at the club and there are some at the club who’ve gone out of their way to try and get HJC included. The team who work on the media side (i.e. the website, the TV station etc) have done a lot to publicise HJC events (the justice tour for example). But ‘individuals at the club’ isn’t the same as ‘the club’ and any contact is usually informal.

      There is a block to the HJC being brought into the fold and nobody at the club is willing to go on record to say what it is.

  • John

    I know HJC do brilliant work, but the flames and the 96 is still there. It would have been the easy option to get rid of it, but they didn’t so you, or they can’t complain

    What had they to consult them about, changing the flames from one area of the kit to another? Get real.

    • @John,

      If you feel strongly enough about an issue that you go out of your way to comment about it why not put that little bit more effort in and actually find out what the issue is?

      The issue isn’t about whether the club should consult families, the issue is that the club chose to consult some and exclude others, and that the club has done this on a number of issues down the years.

      I, and the HJC, are not complaining about the moving of the flames – although to say nobody could complain (if they chose to) is a bit rich coming from someone turning up on here to, yes, complain!

      Get real. Or Get reading.

  • Nash

    Enlightening piece, and I do get your argument.

    But I have to side with the club aswell. LFC have chosen to only consult with HFSG on this and previous matters going back for several years now, as you mentioned. HJC and HFH have also been aware of this stance by LFC aswell and the club must have valid reasons for this approach.

    Why can’t these 3 representative groups simply communicate with each other once the club has been In touch with one of them rather than feel hard done to and ignored?

    No family of the 96 has ever been ignored by the club or it’s fans.

    After several years of negative press its unfortunate that HJC has felt the need to make such a negative statement on what is a hugely positive story.

  • John

    I don’t fully understand what it is you want? Do you want all 3 groups to be involved in the decision process or simply notified of changes? If all 3 groups were to be involved with decision processes then, as stated earlier, it would become very problematic as there could be many opposing beliefs leading to more upset and division. The club consulted with HFSG, which whilst I can understand why it may be disappointing for other groups, it is also reasonable as this is the original group. If it is simply being notified then wasn’t that addressed at the meeting in march?

    And Jim whilst not everyone was a victim or lost someone on that tragic day, we are all passionate of the fight for justice and keeping the 96 in our hearts, forever remembered. I don’t think attempts to divide the club helps our collective cause at all. At the end of the day, the 96 are more prevelant on our new kit which i’m sure everyone would have wanted and the club as a whole do a lot for the cause of justice. The issues here seem fairly pedantic in the grand scheme of things.

    • @John,

      To put it as simply as I can, I think if the club has the sensitivity to realise a change it’s making might have an impact on bereaved families it should have the sensitivity to realise that only informing one of the three groups is going to cause upset for the families who are not part of that group.

      It chose to speak to HFSG about the change. Maybe that was out of compassion – in which case why not speak to the other two groups too? The club knows that HFSG do not have any dialogue with HJC or HFH. If it consulted HFSG to avoid a PR issue then it was rather stupid PR to exclude the other two well-supported groups.

      This was not an attempt by the HJC to divide the club. It was an attempt by the HJC to be included, to not be left out in the cold.

      “The issues here seem fairly pedantic” – if the issues are no big deal then – as the title of this asks – would it hurt to include the others?

      For what it’s worth I’m still working on getting to the reasons for the exclusion and more importantly to see what if anything can be done to stop it being the case.

  • mark

    They should not have consulted any of the Hillsborough groups.

    It might offend some of the families but the time has come to move on and limit the clubs involvment with the various Hillsborough groups to viciforously supporting their campaigns for justice.

    I do not think the club should be consulting them on kit design, or otehr day to day issues, 23 years after the event.

    As posters have pointed out, it’s a minefield. What would happen if HFSG was for the new kit and HJC was against it?

    Time for a clean break. Let the club get on with running the club.

    • Thomas

      i agree with Mark

    • “time to move on” – Time to move on to some other club Mark.

      Thankfully, despite its reluctance to include all the families, the club doesn’t think it’s time to move on.

      But please, move on, somewhere else, I’m ashamed to think of you as being a supporter of this club. I get the feeling you probably aren’t.

  • Wayne Scholes

    I find it difficult to believe the lack of thought that goes into some of the responses on this page, by adding YNWA or JFT96 at the end of your post it doesn’t make you a Liverpool fan or add any credibility to your snide comments or opinion.

    The issue is simple: When there are three groups that represent a majority of families and people affected directly by the tragedy that is Hillsborough the fact that LFC management/ownership and or kit supplier individually or collectively thought it appropriate to contact one of the groups and not the other two shows a lack of interest in the opinions and relationship with those two groups culminating in a dismissive show of a lack of respect. That is the issue. If one is worthy of interaction then why not the other two? Is it really worth all this antagonism and contention between parties who should be united for justice when a two hour meeting to provide information and gather feedback could have been arranged and all this contention avoided?

    My professor in PR said one thing in our first class (many years ago and it still sticks with me in every meeting), he said;

    “Not everyone will agree with everything that you do or say – and they don’t need to for you to be able to make the right decision for your organisation; but they must understand why you came to that decision and why you are doing what it is you are doing that they might disagree with. It is the only way to have mutually respectful relationships – understand each others positions. They may never agree with you but they will understand you – that my funny little PR students is the essence of successful Public Relations – mutual respect for the opinion of another”.

    I believe by ignoring, marginalizing, and dismissing the other two groups of families and survivors Liverpool FC have created an issue that would likely not have existed (certainly not to this extent).

    I am disappointed in the management and ownership who came to Liverpool wearing rather large badges proclaiming ‘fan’ interaction and a ‘deep understanding’ of the history – both great and tragic of the club and its fans. Committees are nice, I am unconvinced by the efficacy of the fan committee (not because of the members but more the lack of teeth that they have been given. They currently get to ask questions and the club get to say ‘We’ll look in to it’) but it’s a good PR move in the right direction I suppose. When one proclaims ‘close communication’ with the fans of the club one owns one must expect that an expectation has been created, when one fails to live up to that expectation by deliberately ignoring a group that represents such an emotionally charged group of people – with whom a lot of said fans have an emotional connection to – then one must expect a back lash. Don’t fly a flag with values on and then not live up to those values – expect to be ‘called out’ on it – especially by Liverpool fans.

    I have a separate opinion on the moving of the flames and 96, I disagree with the moving of it and see it as a very careful move to separate the brand gradually from the ‘issue’. I believe it to be a cynical move by people lacking an understanding of how deeply affected people are by the club, the tragedies and the history. Owners like FSG don’t like political issues to taint the water, it’s a shrewd move from a brand perspective but a cynical move in my opinion from the seat of a fan.

    Maybe twenty years in marketing has jaded my thinking on significant brand changes like this (trust me – they had this very conversation over an extended period of time) and maybe I am wrong; but maybe I am right; either way the idea that there are families out there who went through Hillsborough and sit tonight hurting – because the club that their families members died supporting – couldn’t be bothered to spend two hours with them makes me incredibly sad and brings a profound sense of disappointment to my heart. Two meetings would have been ample time to explain the clubs position, ask for feedback, and to show respect for the families whose lives are irrevocably connected with Liverpool Football Club. If they disagreed at least they would have understood.

    For these reasons I will not be purchasing the shirt this season for my family of six; that may only be 12 shirts in total but it is my way of telling them I am unhappy, however small my gesture it is my gesture – just so they understand my position as it were.

  • Warren

    Rightly or wrongly (I would lean towards the ‘rightly’ camp given the subsequent poor statement from HJC) I think it’s simply a case of brand management and control. I don’t think this means the ‘brand’ is valued at the expense of sensitivity but rather that the aim was to ensure that both elements should be incorporated together well, tact and brand. It is possible to sensitively tackle the issue while also maintaining control of the situation.
    I can very easily imagine the HJC expressing it’s, completely justifiable, distaste for some elements of the establishment that could potentially reflect badly on the club as a brand. We may all wish for Thatcher to rot in her grave; but that isn’t an opinion the club should express.

    For all the fantastic work HJC have done they are more politicised and outspoken than the HFSG, even the name of the organisations suggests so (comparing support/justice). Do not forget that the club does previous for including certain organisations at the expense of others (SOS).
    We are owned by well-versed business men; it seems only natural that they wish to control as much of a situation as possible. How right or wrong this is, and how much the club can listen, is the wider issue.

  • Owen

    I agree with Mark, the club should be able to decide on matters such as kits without needing to consult any group, clearly they would pay respect to the 96 no matter what as they don’t do it just to please the groups, the club is just as passionate over the matter as the rest of us! Let the club run itself whilst also continuing the good work it does regarding hillsborough. Again we are in the headlines negatively, when this was supposed to be a new dawn for LFC, lets not divide our club! YNWA

    • Owen, Mark thinks the families should move on. If you agree with that you’ve forgotten that the campaign is still going on and that it suffers when people start talking about it like it’s some kind of inconvenience to their selfish wish to just watch the match.

      The HJC aren’t dividing the club, the HJC are asking if they can stop being treated like an unwanted and inconvenient nuisance.

      And, as I’ve now said a few times, the club chose to consult families, but not all the families, and then tried to give the impression it had consulted all the families.

      • Owen

        What a ridiculous reply that really was Jim. When have I or Mark said we should ‘move on?’. We simply believe LFC should not have to consult the groups on decisions such as this. As you have stated no one has a problem with the new design, so coming out publicly, and yes Jim attacking LFC, is rather petty and harmful. Why did they wait until the release of the shirt to say something when they knew in March? Simply because it would be more of a media focus, and subsequently, more damaging, very seemingly an attack to me. As far as I understand, HJC were set up as a seperate political movement to, quite rightly, get justice, not to act as advisors on kit designs and such. With HJC being so politically motivated, as stated earlier, would cause problems with the 96 being represented, as fifa and the fa are very strict with clubs having political motives. If you are to reply to more comments Jim I would appreciate it if you would not purposefully twist our words to come up with a response.

        • Owen,

          Mark said:

          “It might offend some of the families but the time has come to move on and limit the clubs involvment with the various Hillsborough groups to viciforously supporting their campaigns for justice. I do not think the club should be consulting them on kit design, or otehr day to day issues, 23 years after the event.”

          I can tell you now, 100%, that the reason the HJC weren’t included in discussions about the kit has nothing whatsoever to do with fears that FIFA or anyone else might see it as a political statement.

          Out of interest, what’s the difference between the HFSG and the HJC when you refer to one being a political movement and the other not? Is it the fight for justice or something else?

  • Andre da Paz

    There are 96 families, not 9600 nor 9m600k. Some club staff wouldn’t loss 1 month contacting each and every family. I can’t understand it at all. The families are not in the middle of Amazon rainforest or living in North Korea. This is unacceptable and sad. My thoughts are with HJC and I wish all the best in these tough times. JFT96 GBNF YNWA. Great article as usual Mr. Boardman.

  • Jon

    I was going to write I can’t see what all the fuss is about consulting the relevant groups supporting the families and justice campaign over the new shirt design following yours and Andy Heatons comments on Twitter last night.
    But the more I thought about it today in work I’m in full agreement that it wouldn’t of done any harm or wrong to even send a letter to the groups or better still call them into Anfield and let them know face to face of what the proposals where to be.
    After the disastrous handling of the Suarez / Evra saga on a PR front you would of thought the Club would of handled this slightly more sensitively.


  • Vlad

    I think its insensitive of the club to remove the flame from both the badge and the front of the shirt too. I dont think the number 96 on the back is that big a deal myself.
    I speak as someone whose bereaved family decided not to pursue the route of some of the other families.

  • Greg

    Surely HJC would be much better of contacting the club to try and open discussions as to why they are not consulted but HFSG are as opposed to issuing such an inflamatory statement. The club do a lot for the people that were involved in Hillsborough, ending the statement with “96 is more than a number. LFC would do well to remember that.” is imho pathetic and unnessecary. I can understand that HJC wish to be consulted, but their actions are those of a petulant child and are simply drawing further negative press onto the club at a time when it least needs them. There are much better ways of handling the situation then this.

    • Do you not think they have already tried to open discussions on the issue?

      It needs sorting.

      • Greg

        This statement in no way helps resolve the issue.

        I’m not involved in either organisation so have no idea what, if any discussions have taken place. If (as insinuated by your post) you have knowledge of what discussions have taken place between them then perhaps you could enlighten those of us not involved,

        That does not alter the fact that the closing sentences of the statement are completely over the top and to me looks like the HJC are doing exactly what they are accusing LFC of doing and using the 96 to further their own agenda.

    • Wayne Scholes

      You seem to be assuming that they haven’t tried ‘alternative methods’ with the club? They aren’t idiots, they have I am sure been trying for many years to have a relationship with the club. The emphasis is on the club to have a relationship with the group that represents those so deeply associated with such a tragic moment in the clubs history. This isn’t something the families asked for, they found themselves in this and are seeking one thing and one thing only – justice. The least the club could do is spend two hours with them and let them know of the changes in person. Not ask for permission or even opinions, just keep them informed through an open dialogue and not through the press release mill.

      • Greg

        Why? If the HJC are only looking for justice for those affected then why the need to publish this? Why the need to try (and succeed) in dragging the club through the mud? How does this benefit their fight for justice?

  • REDseptember

    As i stated today at 12.15, a media already obsessed by all things negative about LFC do not need their headlines being written for them. Once again we are being sullied by the press. Why the need to do this? It’s as if some sections of our support enjoy this constant negativity around the club. LFC have done nothing wrong here!!

    • You’re entitled to your opinion REDseptember but if the club don’t like this particular bit of less than positive publicity they know how to fix it, or at least ease the situation.

  • Gary C

    The HJC come out of this looking bad.I know there statement released on the day of the new shirts release is not about the design but the fact they were not asked or told about the change.
    So why didnt they release the statement back in march when they first knew about the change,
    Why did they not ask the club why they wernt asked or told about the change.
    To me yes I understand there anger but they have gone totally the wrong way by releasing that statement on the day the kit was released.

    • Gary C,

      I can’t answer for HJC but I can guess at an answer – maybe they thought there was still time for the club to have a quiet word and let them know.

  • Liam Reynolds

    I have been part of the Hope for Hillsborough group for a few months now and they were not informed either but Jim, the shocking this is mate is that it wasn’t a suprise to us that we weren’t informed. As you have explained there are the three groups and H4H and the HJC never get a look in from the club, not even support financially/donations or by publicising the group. They only seem to care about the HFSG which to me is outrageous, contacting and keeping in touch with all 3 groups is not a hard thing to ask for! You’ll Never Walk Alone Jim!


    • Thanks Liam. I think it says a lot that many fans still didn’t actually realise there’s more than one group.

      It would be nice to see the club stick an article on their site where they have all the information on Hillsborough to just briefly mention each of the three groups and any details of how to contact them.

  • Joe

    It used to be the “Sun” etc that were determined to destroy our club, our support & our unity, but now it looks like we are a dab hand at it ourselves. This whole thing is ridiculous & you’re not doing anyone any favours by bringing it up Jim. I don’t think it will help anyone connected with Hillsborough & just gives one more negative vibe against the club.

    • Joe, given your previous comments on here I think you’ve some room to talk when it comes to negative vibes against the club. Unless I’m mixing you up with someone.

      When you say by me bringing it up it won’t help anyone connected with Hillsborough I just need to say a couple of things. Firstly, I didn’t bring it up, the HJC did. And the HJC are, surprisingly, a group represented many people ‘connected with Hillsborough’.

      Those people feel left out – they weren’t really consulted about the make-up of the HIP and when they did get to speak about it I believe their request for one person they put forward to be added to the panel was turned down. The BBC FOI request should have been revealed but the decision was made to leave it until the panel reports its findings. The decision was made by the HIP in consultation with the HFSG. The HJC weren’t asked – and that’s upset them deeply, particularly one member for whom time is not on his side. He’ll probably not be here when the panel’s findings (already delayed) are finally made known.

      Whether the decision to hold the info back is right or wrong is another argument – the HJC surely should be able to speak to the panel to put their views forward.

      The HIP have held meetings with the HFSG at Anfield which the HJC and H4H only found out about by accident.

      I could go on, but the common thread is quite simple. The HJC are being treated like outcasts, and that means some bereaved families are being treated like outcasts.

      There is no good reason for doing that and I will do what I can to help them get that inclusion.

      Surely the HFSG, the club and the HIP wouldn’t object to the inclusion and recognition of other bereaved families.

      When they get that recognition it will be a big help to them. I know it will.

  • Dave Gledhill

    and yet again the club has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons, thus giving the heiracy at the club more of a reason to cut ties with it all and not involve anyone from any group in any future discussions, after all the club has done for the families in the past no matter what group they belong to, it now looks like it boils down to pettiness and negativity has turned the headlines sour again

    • Read some of my comments from above and see if you still feel it’s all pettiness.

      Rather than slate the HJC why not spend a bit of time doing some research? It’s taking a half-baked approach, if any, to finding out what really happened that sees so many Neanderthal S*n readers still believing the complete lies told in 1989.

      • Dave Gledhill

        i havent slated anyone and i dont read the s*n either, end of day the group split therefore the teddy is out of the cot, would you have wrote a similar article if the HFSG wasnt consulted and the HJC was? no group has a right to be consulted on anything regarding the club anyway, they only consult with HFSG because it was the 1st group setup after the tragedy. plus if the club said they consulted some families would this article still have been written?

  • Kevin Phipps

    HJC petty statement shows very clearly exactly WHY they weren’t consulted. This is an organisation that has now, somehow, decided, it needs to be consulted when it has absolutely no right to that at all.

    Another issue that needs to be dealt with but of course won’t because anyone raising it will be called insensitive: why is there even this fragmentation of Hillsborough groups? Anyone who knows the history of the pettiness, especially from HJC, between them is tired of how the whole thing has become politicised. I think the club has acted very properly.

    • The HJC has done no such thing. It’s said that if HFSG are to be consulted it would be nice to be included too. And it’s also pointing out that if the club wants to say it’s consulted the families it needs to be more honest about what that means. If it means “one of the groups representing some of the families” it should say that, the HJC believe.

      As for the reasons for the split, would it help any of the groups to go over it all again out in the open?

      Would the HFSG have any good reason to object to the club recognising the two other groups? They don’t have to agree with the other two groups, or like the other two groups, but surely there’s no good reason for them to stand in the way of LFC including people from those groups?

      And if the HFSG don’t object, and if HJC (and H4H) want inclusion, what reason is left for the club to ignore some of the families?

      • Wayne Scholes

        I hate to sound so pessimistic but perhaps if one group receives funding from the club it is not likely to want to get to a point where it feels it may have to share that revenue with other groups that have a different way of doing things with different goals? If they feel there is a concern that there own goals and activities may be curtailed somewhat by the inclusion of two other groups then it would follow that they might discourage any further involvement?

        I am in no way vastly knowledgeable about the issues between the three groups, just seems petty on the part of the club to not talk to all parties legitimately representing affected families. I am most certainly not casting any aspersions upon any group or suggesting that anything dishonest or otherwise is taking place.

  • Wayne Scholes

    Do you remember trying to explain the Suarez saga to all those idiots who simply couldn’t be bothered to really look at the issue and study it out but decided rather to simply read The S*n and take the press version or Man Ure version as gospel?

    Well most of them seem to post here.

    The issues are simple:

    1. There are 96 dead and scores of families affected by the tragedy
    2. There are thousands of survivors who live with what they saw every day
    3. Everyone wants justice
    4. Not everyone will agree on what that is or how to get it, hence divided opinion
    5. Splits occur to manage the needs of each person affected to be able to do what they feel is right, it is normal to have 2-3 groups in any number of like minded people (unions, supporters groups etc.)
    6. Not everyone thinks the same and all three have accomplished things in different ways
    7. The club is not perfect and the groups are not perfect
    8. Everyone deserves to be represented when something so tragically affecting has occurred in ones life
    9. No one is asking for ‘approval rights for anything’ – NO ONE.
    10. The club could have avoided all of this with a simple two hour meeting to inform the two other groups of it’s decision and reasoning behind the decision
    11. When one hurts it’s normal for one to express that hurt – even when one thinks one is controlling said hurt.
    12. Try to show some compassion and understanding of the issues before you comment.
    13. The club is run by professionals – the HJC by families. the onus is on the club to act in the more professional manner. the club knew exactly what it was doing when it started this storm.
    14. It wouldn’t harm the club to have a dialogue – nothing more, just talk, with the ALL the groups that represent those affected by Hillsborough and not just a few of them as represented by one group.

    HJC might not be PR trained or show the finesse that some of you think they should show but given what they have gone through, what they have achieved and what they stand for I am willing to cut them a lot of slack and support them in any way I can.

  • Vlad

    There is room for dialogue between at least three or four groups and the club. Its not difficult to speak to different groups on issues that effect all parties concerned.
    Rather than going through groups even,why not just draft a letter to all 96 families with a return phone number and email address allowing them to voice any concerns and sort them out. This is another example,like the Suarez affair,of a lack of effective leadership in the PR and communication department. There was a shake up in those departments at the beginning of the season and it hasnt been a good move so far.