The new supporter engagement model has been created to address the findings of a global independent research programme that the club commissioned last year.
Research specialist Populus launched the programme last autumn with the aim of assessing what is working well with supporter liaison and what is important to fans, as well as identifying areas that can be improved to further develop an open dialogue.
Populus conducted more than 40 in-depth interviews with fans, supporter groups, key media commentators, politicians, Liverpool city influencers and other groups and individuals within football; had more than 10,000 fans complete an online questionnaire; and identified best practice fan liaison models within football.
The research concluded that the current engagement methods used by the club could be improved, with supporters giving a low score for how represented they feel. Supporters were also asked to highlight the issues that were important to them. Nearly 60 per cent of respondents said the biggest issue was ticket availability. Ticket prices, stadium-related issues and engagement with local supporters also featured high up in the results.
Populus’ research concluded that more fans prefer to engage directly with the football club on these important issues.
Taking this feedback on board, the club has redesigned the supporter engagement model to include fan forums that will focus on the key issues that have been highlighted by supporters.
New fan forums
Four new fan forums will be created to focus specifically on the key issues that fans said were important. In addition, due to the significance of the topic, Liverpool FC has included a fan forum to focus specifically on equality and diversity. This is to ensure there is continuity and consistency within this important area of the club and to continue the great work that has been achieved to date. The fan forums will be:
- Ticket Availability Fan Forum
- Ticket Prices Fan Forum
- Stadium Fan Forum
- Local Supporter Engagement Fan Forum
- Equality & Diversity Fan Forum
New topics for fan forums may also be established as and when required.
Each of the fan forums will be made up of between eight and 12 supporters, with one seat being reserved for Spirit of Shankly, the Liverpool Supporters’ Trust and one seat for a member of the existing Supporters’ Committee. The remaining seats will be selected by an independent organisation from a database of fans who register an interest in getting involved in one of the fan forums.
The club will be launching a new campaign in the coming weeks to encourage supporters to register their interest to be selected at random to participate in one of the fan forums.
For each forum, the club is looking for a range of supporters with knowledge and experience of the issue being discussed.
Supporters can attend the fan forums in person at Anfield or via video call facilities to make the forums as accessible as possible for all fans, wherever they live. It is important that participating supporters are able to commit to take part in all forums throughout the season as they will not be able to send a replacement.
Annual fan summit
As well as the fan forums, and as part of this new supporter engagement model, there will also be an annual fan summit hosted by the club’s new CEO, Peter Moore. Club directors, senior officials and those supporters who are members of the fan forums will be invited to attend the annual summit, to be held at Anfield, either in person or via video call facilities. Karen Gill, Bill Shankly’s granddaughter and honorary president of the Supporters’ Committee, has also been invited to join the annual fan summit.
The summit will be held at the end of each season and aims to consolidate and review the progress of the issues discussed in the fan forums as well as provide a platform to look at the challenges ahead.
In addition to the fan forums and annual fan summit, the club will also be engaging with other groups such as the LDSA and Official LFC Supporters’ Clubs. This is to ensure their voice is heard too, with key issues fed into the fan forums or directly into relevant departments in the club for discussion and/or resolution.
Further, the club’s dedicated fan services team based at Anfield will continue to be available for supporters who have more immediate issues. Their contact details can be found here: http://help.liverpoolfc.com/app/ask.
On an ongoing basis, the club is also investing in fan research offering supporters the opportunity to get involved and share their views on a regular basis. The results of this ongoing research will be fed into the fan forums in order to support the discussion topics.
Tony Barrett appointed to new role – head of club and supporter liaison
This new chapter in the club’s fan engagement exemplifies Liverpool’s desire to do more supporter engagement in an open and transparent way, and particularly by using digital and social media platforms.
This important move will be spearheaded and managed by a new role that has been created. Tony Barrett - a lifelong Red, proud LFC season ticket holder, former journalist and North West Football Writer of the Year in 2015 - will join the club next month.
Tony will chair, co-ordinate and manage the fan forums as well as establish an ongoing dialogue with supporters and supporter groups on a more informal basis through social media to help understand the key issues more immediately.
Susan Black, director of communications at Liverpool FC, said: “This extensive independent research programme took nine months, during which time Populus engaged with fans at home and around the world in order to build a robust picture of what the issues are that matter. They also gathered opinions on how fans want us to engage with them.
“This new engagement model will give us a more open and robust platform to engage with more of our supporters on more of the issues that matter to them.
“Tony will drive this for the club and we are delighted that he will be joining us.”
All supporters will be able to keep track of what is discussed in the fan forums by visiting the club’s website and social media platforms, where all discussion points from the meetings will be published after every forum.
The fan forums will run throughout the 2017-18 season and will be reviewed to assess any areas that could be improved at the end of the season following the fan summit.
Stay logged on to Liverpoolfc.com to see how you can get involved in the fan forums next season.