“We are aware of recent media reports and continued speculation about the future of flags and banners at Anfield and how this situation has arisen. To be clear, we have not approached any media outlet regarding these matters. Instead we have found ourselves the subject of speculation and believe that it is necessary for us to comment and make clear our feelings on this matter.
The alleged incident at the Crystal Palace match, which is now the subject of a legal case, is one on which we will not be commenting. What we will not accept is anybody trying to link us to this matter or attempting to use this for their own ends.
We are disappointed at the way this has been handled to date. Supporters, who spend their own money, using their own time, on an increasingly expensive hobby to support the club and provide an atmosphere, should not be treated the way we have.
The flags and banners were not on display at the West Ham match due to obstacles and barriers that the club were proposing to put in place that we felt were unfair and unnecessary. No clear or definitive reason has been given for why the club wish to impose changes. Instead there are only hints and speculation that it is related to the incident at the Crystal Palace match and the views of disabled supporters. To address these two points:
1. The display for the Crystal Palace game was for Gerrard’s last game. The club contacted us and we worked together to create a mosaic and flag display for the game. Unfortunately, this was not properly communicated to the ground staff and is where we believe problems may have begun. We were at the ground from 8am the morning of the game and were fully cooperative with the stewards. However, unknown to us, the stewards who work during the game had not been made aware of the mosaic and how it would affect other supporters, including the disabled supporters. We worked with the staff in the ground so all fans could enjoy the experience and came to a compromise to suit all involved. We believe this issue has come about after the failings of the club to communicate the plans before the game to those who had working responsibilities on the day.
2. The Daily Mirror article has a quote saying “if conducted properly, the banners are not a problem”. To be clear, the banners have always been conducted properly. We have had a brilliant working relationship with all stewards on The Kop, the former stadium manager Ged Poynton and all fans, especially those who sit in the disabled section at the front of The Kop. The flags have been there for the best part of a decade. We are not aware of any issues and we work alongside the stewards to address any issues.
We are not a group who have members. We are a group of long standing and loyal supporters who want to create an atmosphere and keep the traditions of The Kop alive in the time where young, local youths are priced out of the game. We ask for help from all like-minded fans who share a similar passion and want to be part of what we do. We’ve had all types of help in the past, from disabled supporters, to young scouse kids to foreign fans who have travelled from South America. We simply have a collection of flags and banners and believe, the more that are on display each match day, the better.
As a group of fans, we are fully aware of the difficulties the disabled fans on The Kop face. A number of the regular flag wavers who help on match days can relate to this as they have been in the disabled ‘seats’ for matches as a relative and a close friend of theirs is in a wheelchair. This is why we always take great care when we set up, display and take down the flags before, during and after each game.
However, none of the proposals put to us for accreditation or registration have been explained, either why they are needed or how they can adequately address any problems. Instead we feel it is a way of control and believe this isn’t how supporters who provide something to the club and team should be treated.
We believe the club should welcome flags, banners and displays on The Kop at every opportunity. We see, not only our flags but other peoples flags, painted all over the offices, interview areas, training ground and changing rooms and used by the club in promotional materials. The flags and banners are even used to promote the new Main Stand. We are constantly referred to as the famous “12th man” and there is no hiding away from the fact that the atmosphere has effectively won games for the football club in the past. If the club want to create issues and problems going forward which prevent this tradition being carried on into the next generation then Anfield and especially The Kop will become the same as any other footballing terrace up and down the county.
We look forward to meeting with the club to address this matter in the coming weeks and we hope they can be resolved and allow us to move forward and continue to support LFC in our own unique and passionate way.”