Apologies for lack of input over the last week but I’ve had chronic flu and have had to work so all I’ve wanted to do, once I’ve got home, is go to bed and act like I’m dying!
After the weekend posts would have been about the Blackpool result however, that can wait until we resume Premiership nuptials after the international break. As everyone now knows events have moved on from that.
How does one greet the news the club has been provisionally sold to New England Sports Ventures (NESV) aka the Boston Reds Sox? My initial reaction is mixed?
The first is celebration that Hicks and Gillett appear, high court shenanigans notwithstanding, to have been tufted out and, to hopefully cap it all, with empty wallets. There is something of a delicious irony that they tried to remove, Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre, the very people they appointed and replace them with their own men in order to prevent the sale being approved. Martin Broughton (again one of their appointments), who appears to have been unfairly bracketed with Hicks and Gillett by some, nailed his colours to the mast by putting his casting vote in favour of the sale. Double crossed and hoisted by their own petard? How does it feel boys?
Gillett and, particular Hicks, has shown that beneath the so called charm they unconvincingly tried to foist on the club and its fans from the day they joined there is nothing but self interest and pure greed. So it is no surprise that even at this late stage, and despite all the opposition to their continued stay. they intend to take the matter to court over the sale price of £300m which gives them no profit. Their valuation is around £500m considerably more than £200m or so they paid for the club and the £140m of so they sunk into it. Fair enough I think as they’ve bought so much to it during their time as owners! We are clearly three times better off than we were before they got their flabby mitts on the steering wheel!
However, and thankfully it seems, the options are diminishing and surely, despite Hicks dubious claims yesterday that the board has been “reconstituted”, we are witnessing the last of this calamitous, incompetent duo? What next Hicks going behind closed doors directly asking NESV for a “pay off” to let the deal go through smoothly? He would be playing a dangerous game as presumably NESV could take over the debt from RBS and then screw Hicks and Gillett right over? Sadly I guess it could be longish, protracted death throw the papers today are already full of legal speak along with contract and constitutional minutia? Leeches and parasites are always difficult to remove.
The second feeling concerns the deal. It does pose a few questions? NESV don’t have the same financial clout of say Manchester City or Chelsea but who does and should we have really expected that in the first place? Moreover do we really want to buy our way to success and an obvious, rather tawdry and overly ostentatious way by shoveling more money after more money in rapid succession until it is achieved? Is that the “Liverpool Way”? NESV’s record with Red Sox appears, on the face of it at least, a good one. They have under NESV experienced something of a renaissance winning the American “rounders” title twice in the 2000’s. Before that the last time they won it Bill Shankly was five years old!
It is interesting to see that the Red Sox (do the American’s spell sex as “secks”?), when taken over by NESV, didn’t move to new stadium but developed their existing one. This now appears to be an option for us. Those of you who remember the problems the club had trying to buy up land to build the Centenary Stand will, perhaps like me, be wondering how they propose to extend the ground’s capacity even further and carry out the associated improvements? If this proves problematic and we go for a new stadium where will the money come from? Hopefully the conditions of the takeover, as laid down by Broughton and co, will ensure that we don’t get the same sort of deceit re the source of the funds, and who has the debt, that we saw with Statler and Wardolf?
The third feeling is simply suspicion. Once bitten twice shy? This is not meant to be racist, but one just wonders if Americans have any idea about football club management? It is not the same as running basketball, gridiron or “rounders” teams? Hicks and Gillett, arrogantly misjudged what they were taking on, got themselves badly burnt and eventually, after creating havoc and realising that no one was going to let them take them take the p*s out of us, where spat out and hopefully sent home? Perhaps the NESV will learn from this and take more heed of the traditions of the club? They will need to as because of the previous American duo, they will be under even more scrutiny. They would be foolish to ignore this. At £300m they have got themselves a “snip” as even though we aren’t at the height of our powers, the Liverpool badge prevails and always will. It is a global attraction the commercial opportunities are enormous, even Hicks and Gillett saw this which is probably why they are holding on in such a grubby, stubborn and humiliating way?
However, lets be positive. Martin Broughton said
“This is a great day for Liverpool Football Club and the supporters. I would like to thank the Liverpool fans for their patience. I know how frustrating it has been for them wanting to know what is going on. I know they have been frustrated by my refusal to give a running commentary. But I have always believed – and this demonstrates it – that the best deals get done behind closed doors.”
Behind closed doors has always been the Liverpool way. Lets hope it continues and that those who disrespected the club, gave it nothing, broke promises and ignored what it stood for, in preference to the selfish pursuit of greed and personal profit, are quickly removed.
Mr Gillett and particularly Mr Hicks, how do you feel today? I know I feel!