The news that Liverpool fans are planning to launch a “fundraising” campaign to oust the club from Hicks and Gillett is an interesting development. A tantalising sequel or, if the Kop would have it, coda to recent developments which others might think have been concluded with the recent restructuring announcement?
The group “Share Liverpool FC” plans to raise funds to establish a supporters co-operative. The idea is based on a members share scheme. It is hoped this will appeal to 100,000 plus Reds supporters across the globe who will put up £5,000 each to raise the £500m they feel will buy the club.
The chief instigator behind the move is Rogan Taylor, a football business lecturer, and Liverpool fan who has held a number of other football related posts.
“Thousands of Liverpool fans have already demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. Large amounts of debt is often laden onto newly-bought clubs and the fans know that in the end, it will be them who will have to pay it off through increased ticket prices and other schemes. “In such a case, why not simply buy the club yourselves?”
Clearly this is a new baby in terms of the Premiership. However although the details have yet to be revealed, the principle is not new. Barcelona, plus plenty of other clubs in Europe, operate similar schemes. Culture secretary Andy Burnham, who set up Supporters Direct with the aim of getting supporters more involved in the decision making process of their club, said
“So far, it’s happened mainly at a lower level. It had been a great success in the Football League and lower and this development will test the water in the in the Premier League.”
This idea flies in the face of the established perception of take overs which usually involve a businessman, or wealthy benefactor, with wads of cash or, in our case, a big loan! However, there are always alternatives. At first hand you would think ”Share Liverpool” is nice idea but aspirational rather than achievable. However, who is to say that it will not work especially if the feeling and desire is there?
Two obvious issues which immediately sprung to my mind when I first read about this were 1: will the idea attract enough interest amongst fans to raise the necessary £500m? And 2: will Hicks and Gillett sell, if the money is raised?
On the first issue Liverpool certainly has the worldwide fan base. We are up there with the likes of Barca, The Mancs and Real Madrid in terms of world wide support. However, do enough of them have £5,000 to spare and, more to the point, can they be convinced to part with it? One also asumes that you don’t neccessarily have to be a Liverpool to invest? Will it work? I guess the only way to find out is to try? Who knows perhaps they will raise more if the idea snowballs and/or Statler and Waldorf continue with their bumbling ways?
The second seems more of a problem. I can’t believe Hicks and Gillett will sell for £500m. Details aren’t known but presumably this will need to be organised very quickly? However, the very nature of how Share Liverpool proposes to raise the money suggests it will take time? I don’t know the timetable but isn’t there a risk that by the time they have everything in place the stadium build could be well advanced? Then The Star Spangled Duo will surely want future revenue streams earnt from the new structure to be reflected in the offer? This would surely take the asking price over £500m?
Also what is there to stop DIC, with a bigger pot of resources, tabling a higher offer? There is also the issue as to whether the Hicks and Gillett would want to sell, full stop or “period” seeing as we are talking about Americans!
As an old socialist the idea sounds great or me, good luck to them and if I had £5,000 to invest, I’d invest it. I don’t suppose they’d let me buy in with a £5,000 loan that I could secure against the club!!!
Seriously though, should Hicks and Gillett be worried? Of course it’s too early to say however, they have already badly underestimated the fans over Rafa’s future. Perhaps they will make the same mistake again?