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Standard Liege ultras interrupt game in 777 Partners protest

It has not been a good season for Standard Liege. Despite being one of the most successful clubs in Belgian football history, Les Rouches are languishing in 10th place in the Belgian Pro League.

Fans are unsurprisingly unhappy, and they have turned their ire on the club’s owner, 777 Partners. Standard supporters feel that a lack of investment and ambition is the reason why the club are performing so poorly.

In Tuesday evening’s match against Mechelen, fans made their thoughts clear.

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Firemen remove flares thrown by Standard Liege ultras onto the pitch during the game against Mechelen. Photo by Icon Sport

What did the Standard Liege ultras do to protest against their owners?

Standard Liege ultra groups Ultras Inferno 1996 and PHK04 remained silent for the first 12 minutes of the game against Mechelen.

But that was not all – just after the 15-minute mark, ultras also through flares onto the pitch, leading to the game having to be delayed for a few minutes while the pyrotechnics were removed.

The match eventually resumed and finished 0-0.

Is this the first time Standard Liege ultras have spoken out?

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A Standard banner reads “You have dishonoured us.” Photo by Icon Sport

777 Partners cannot say they were not warned. The Standard Liege ultras have been very outspoken in their criticism, routinely holding up a banner which reads “Your Galaxy shouldn’t damage our future” in reference to their belief that the group own too many clubs to give enough money or effort to each of them.

In fact, Ultras Inferno 1996 even warned 777 last week that they would be taking action in the Mechelen game.

A press release published last week by UI96 said: “We will carry out various actions of discontent such as a symbolic singing strike during the first 12 minutes of each match.”

“With this press release we want to sound the alarm once again. The second season under 777 Partners ended with a poor record, leading to the worst season in the history of our club. 777’s claim was that we would be playing at the top of the table within three years in order to give Standard the status it deserves. What presents itself, both financially and in sporting terms, is quite the opposite. The club is on the brink.”

“777 are a company that could be compared to a Ponzi scheme. Since our management seems powerless, we are waiting for a direct confrontation with the Americans from 777 Partners, who are more like gravediggers than investors.”

“In the end it is the supporters who are guarantors of the club’s DNA and identity. Because of this we will remain present and we will sing for our badge, but above FOR OURSELVES, not for these puppets on and off the field.” 

Who are 777 Partners?

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777 Partners co-founder Josh Wander shakes hands with Everton majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri at the end of a Carabao Cup match at Goodison Park. Photo by Icon Sport

Look away, Everton fans. As I’m sure you know, 777 Partners are the Miami-based investment firm who in September agreed a deal to buy the Toffees from Farhad Moshiri.

With 777 Partners apparently struggling to pay back a loan owed to another investment firm (MSP Capital), and now looking for third-party investment to help push through their deal to buy Everton, serious doubts have been raised over the viability of the deal. Everton fans fear the club may go into administration.

Everton and Standard Liege are far from the only clubs that 777 Partners are involved with. The firm also own Sevilla, Genoa, Hertha Berlin, Red Star, Vasco da Gama and Melbourne Victory.

You only have to look at how each of those clubs are doing to see the effect 777 Partners has had – Sevilla are 12th in La Liga, Vasco da Gama 15th in Série A and Hertha Berlin are 7th in 2. Bundesliga having finished bottom of the Bundesliga last season.

It is no surprise that there are protests at nearly every 777-owned club.

Jamie Barton

A freelance football writer and podcaster, Jamie has appeared on/in the BBC World Service, PA Media, Charlton Athletic FC and Empire of the Kop, among others. He's attended matches all around the world, from Tranmere to Tokyo, and once had his bus home from the 2022 Champions League final in Paris delayed by 28 hours.

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