Activists target Liverpool FC sponsor Standard Chartered over fossil fuel links

Posters demand ‘red card’ for football club’s sponsor as hoax website ‘announces’ end of UK bank’s support for coal

More than 50 billboards and bus stop adverts drawing attention to the Liverpool FC sponsor Standard Chartered’s links to the fossil fuel industry have appeared across the city, as a number of activist groups targeted the bank ahead of its annual general meeting on Wednesday.

One poster design installed outside Anfield, featuring the Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp and player Mohamed Salah, reads: “Give Standard Chartered the red card.”

Meanwhile another campaign group put up a fake Standard Chartered website – described as “extremely convincing” by those who saw it – which “announced” that the bank would “end all support for coal in 2021 and all fossil fuel infrastructure by 2023”. The hoax had been designed by Fridays For Future and the Yes Men. At a morning press conference the real group behind the claim revealed themselves.

The campaign group Market Forces, which focuses on finance for fossil fuels, also said it would be using the shares it owns in the bank to lodge a shareholder resolution for the 2022 AGM if the bank’s policies on climate change did not improve. “We expect to attract significant support,” said their spokesperson, Adam McGibbon.

The Liverpool campaign was coordinated by the activist group Brandalism. Tona Merriman, a campaigner with the group, said: “Subvertising is about using creative arts practices to directly speak back to the brands that use advertising to hide their corporate practices. Whether that’s big polluters like Shell, BP or their financiers like HSBC or Standard Chartered.”

Standard Chartered has been Liverpool’s main sponsor since 2010, making it one of the longest-running sponsorship agreements in the club’s history. Activists say the partnership is inappropriate because the UK-based bank has loaned billions to fund destructive fossil fuel projects.

“Liverpool have a fanbase that are proud of their progressive, working-class history and I think a lot of fans will disagree with the environmental crimes their main sponsor is committing,” said Merriman.

One of the poster designs features the Standard Chartered logo, with the tagline: “Supporting deforestation, flash floods and Liverpool FC.”

One of Brandalism’s posters at a bus stop in Liverpool.
A Brandalism poster at a bus stop in Liverpool. Photograph: Brandalism

Liverpool FC have made a public commitment to sustainability and in January launched The Red Way, an initiative that states “a sustainable future is our greatest goal”.

Bill McKibben, a prominent climate campaigner, tweeted: “Very very glad youth are going after the banks like @Stanchart that drive the climate crisis. Get ready for much more of this- if your business plan undermines the earth, people will seek creative and nonviolent ways to undermine you.”

A spokesperson for Standard Chartered said: “We’re supporting clients in their own transition to net zero, including through providing the capital and expertise they need to do so. Our climate risk management framework includes transition risk metrics and risk appetite which are being incorporated into our credit decisions.”

The bank added that it had a non-negotiable requirement for clients to reduce their coal revenue threshold to 5% by 2030, and said it was developing transition frameworks for high-carbon sectors, as well as developing an advisory resolution for the 2022 annual meeting to support dialogue on their net zero plans.


Alex Mistlin

The GuardianTramp

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