The stars behind a potential Christmas number one single which aims to raise money for the Hillsborough families have called on the chancellor to waive VAT on it.
The version of the Hollies' hit He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother by The Justice Collective was launched at Liverpool's HMV store by stars including football legend Kenny Dalglish and comedian John Bishop.
The song was produced by Robbie Williams' long-time collaborator Guy Chambers with all the proceeds going to cover the legal costs of the families of the Liverpool supporters killed in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. It was inspired by the sight of two children who walked out to the track during a tribute to the dead at Liverpool's cross-city rivals Everton.
Dalglish, Bishop and Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram all called on the chancellor to waive the VAT on the single, something he has already done for the X Factor winner's single - the proceeds of which are also going to charity. Dalglish said: "We are trying to get the same for the Hillsborough families. I think it's important that the Government does that for us. Every penny that comes in is going to go towards helping with legal costs, and I think that will be substantial. I just hope it's getting near the end for the families because they have suffered long enough."
Mr Rotheram, who appears on the record alongside artists like Robbie Williams, former X Factor star Rebecca Ferguson and Spice Girl Mel C, said: "I wrote to the Chancellor George Osborne before X Factor and we haven't yet had a formal response from him. We tried to get hold of the Treasury yesterday and we are still hopeful that he will waive the VAT on our single. It's the right thing for the Government to do."
The release of the single comes after a damning report into the handling of the crowd crush at Hillsborough Stadium which left 96 fans dead. A spokesman for bookmakers William Hill on Sunday said the song was 1/7 to be Christmas number one with X Factor winner James Arthur 9/2 second favourite.
A spokesman for HMV said hundreds have been visiting the store today to purchase the single. Frankie Feeney, 51, from Liverpool, was the first customer in line and was served by Kenny Dalglish in person.
Ian Ayre, managing director of Liverpool Football Club, also attended to pick up a copy, while many customers have been purchasing multiple copies, including one local lad in his twenties, who bought 96 copies in tribute to each fan who tragically lost their lives.
HMV's Gennaro Castaldo said: "It looks like being a straight race between the X Factor and The Justice Collective to top the Christmas charts. James Arthur's Impossible impressively sold just under half a million copies last week to take him to number one, but he's unlikely to generate the same level of sales in this final week whereas much of the momentum will now be with TJC."
A spokeswoman for the Treasury said they could not comment on the VAT issue until after a decision is made by the High Court on whether to quash the original inquest verdicts.