Following the example of the Hillsborough Justice campaign, the campaign to free Michael Shields & clear his name (www.michaelshields.uwclub.net/ ) received a powerful boost before Liverpool's home fixture against West Ham United on Monday evening.
Actress Sue Johnstone addressed the crowd, pointing out the inconsistencies in the prosecution's case & subsequent conviction against Michael for the attempted murder of a Bulgarian waiter, Martin Georgiev, in May 2005, as a group of Liverpool fans made their way through Bulgaria on their way home from the Champions League final in Istanbul.
Reflecting the strength of feeling about the case among supporters, as well as recognising the increasing body of evidence which points to a major miscarriage of justice, Liverpool FC not only agreed to the pre-match protest, but also encouraged the players to wear "Free Michael Shields" t-shirts. The protest was also televised live by Setanta, to their credit. [Something tells me the Murdoch-owned Sky Sports would have ignored or downplayed the event.]
However, demonstrating, yet again, their irrelevance to most football supporters, as well as a chronic inability to acknowledge the evidence, the FA have lived up to their initials by demanding an explanation from the club (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2008/dec/03/liverpool-michael-shields ):
"Officials at Soho Square [FA Headquarters] are considering whether to bring disciplinary charges after taking exception at the manner in which Liverpool have publicly backed a man who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the attempted murder of a Bulgarian waiter, Martin Georgiev, in May 2005.
"Another Liverpool fan admitted being responsible for the crime before later retracting his confession and Shields' case will go before a high court review tomorrow. The FA, however, is alarmed that Liverpool should openly use a live televised game to try to influence the matter."
Two points need to be made from that quote: Firstly, it is common knowledge on Merseyside that the "Liverpool fan", as he's erroneously described, who retracted his confession is publicly known. Seeing as any case against the individual concerned has yet to be instigated, I don't think I'm breaking any sub judice rules in naming him as Graham Sankey. This individual is, as they say, known to the police. He has a criminal record for a number of violent offences, some of which were racially aggravated. Sankey has openly boasted about his luck in evading conviction for the crime. Secondly, it is the right of any body or individual to try to "influence" the outcome when it is claimed a major miscarriage of justice has taken place (a polite term for it is "lobbying").
The FA disgraced itself in its response to Hillsborough. Therefore it isn't surprising that it has acted in this way. Local MPs, Liverpool City Council, Liverpool FC, the Spirit of Shankly, the club's fans & countless others recognise the compelling proof of Michael Shields' innocence. That the FA should be blind to this is depressingly predictable.