Thursday, 14 October 2010

Chaos at Liverpool... and it's coming soon to a club near you

The latest Liverpool score? "Poppycock" and "an abuse of process". Oh, time-wasting. That sounds vaguely like we might be talking football.
Sadly, we're not. We're talking off-the-field crisis. And it's coming soon to a Premier League club near you.
Thing is, Liverpool thought they'd won yeesterday. Just like the Reds lately isn't it? Think they've won, then they haven't. Celebrating victory only to find they've actually achieved nothing.
So wrong all this. Gloom at Anfield matched only by the confusion outside Court 16 at the Royal Courts of Justice.
Yesterday's High Court victory appeared to suggest Hicks and Gillett had lost once and for all, that they were unlikely to appeal.
Then the Americans get some court in Texas to slap an injunction on things and poor old John Henry, having flown out to celebrate his coup in buying the great Reds brand, leaves confused and baffled by English sporting politics.
Mind you, will Henry be any better?
Which raises the point... how about a word from Prime Minister David Cameron on all this. In a time of cuts and recession, wouldn't it enhance his coalition's popularity if he came out and told these profit-seeking Americans to get knotted and let Liverpool live?
But it won't happen. I'm on Sky News tomorrow morning at 6.45am talking Liverpool and to be frank, I'm tired of the intricate legal arguments. I just want victory for the fans, a chance for my old coach Roy Hodgson to get things done in a relatively peaceful environment.
I was on South Africa's MetroFM yesterday, telling host Robert Morawa as much as I know about what's going on. I put it to him that if some foreigner stepped in and bought Kaizer Chiefs, sent them plunging in to debt and then demanded millions in profit, there would be real trouble.
Sport, you see, is not a business. It's a passion. Liverpool are not selling apples and pears or even sophisticated machinery. They are selling football. They rely on a fanatical following, the result of years of supreme football and cunning transfer moves.
Sure, season tickets and replica shirts will be sold. But profit is the last thing the footballers or the fans care about. The bottom line in sport is success. At just about any cost.
For Tom Hicks and George Gillett, it appears to be all about getting a return for an investment that put the Reds to deeply in the red.
Soon, it will be Manchester United's turn, when the Glazers want their money back. And the debt at Old Trafford is twice as high. Last week United's record £100m nett profit was actually turned into a record loss by interest repayments on what is effectively a mortgage taken out by the Glazers.
Chelsea and Manchester City fans can rest easy for now. Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansoor appear unfussed by profit, they want the kudos that comes from lavishing millions on a Premier League football club.
But if either of those billionaires grow bored and seek to invest in Formula One or Powerboating, then where would they be?
Of all the major clubs, only Arsenal seem capable right now of running that line between economics and sport.
If FIFA supremo Sepp Blatter and UEFA's Michel Platini got their way and forced all clubs to run at a profit, to live within their means, Arsenal would be the last club standing.
Sure, Wolves, Birmingham and even West Ham might make it following the pragmatic arrival of David Gold and David Sullivan. Spurs? The mystery of their investment refuses to go away, Harry Redknapp just keeps on spending Daniel Levy's money and he doesn't appear to have a lot of it.
Aston Villa? Randy Lerner seems a sensible soul, but what's he in it for? And how about the new Thailand entry into the market at Leicester? Even Croydon Athletic have been caught up in intrigue and deceit. And they're not even in the Football League!
It's all a mess. Mr Justice Floyd must today make sense of all this. Weigh up the needs of a football club with those of big business. The Royal Bank of Scotland and the Anfield Board want New England Sports Ventures (run by Boston Red Sox boss Henry) to step in by Friday or there is talk of administration and a nine-point deduction for a Liverpool side already languishing in the relegation zone.
This once great club have got the RBS calling in their loan of £237m tomorrow. They've got Hicks and Gillett trying to kick Martin Broughton and his pragmatic pals off the board.
And if Hicks and Gillett win, they'll be looking to this Asian billionaire Peter Lim to step in and buy them out, rather than Henry, who appears to have Liverpool at heart.
But how can anybody from Asia or the States understand exactly what Liverpool means to the fans? Families, communities, schools are split along the red and blue divide.
And on Sunday, it's the Merseyside derby.
Even as I write this, Hicks and Gillett are in Dallas arguing that proceedings in London are in contempt of their court's decision. Broughton and his side are arguing they have no jurisdiction. They're using words like "grotesque parody..preposterous, unfair, unjust". Oh, and "poppycock" and "incorrigible".
And throughout it all, Roy Hodgson is trying to pick a side for a game which means so much, with Dirk Kuyt and Fernando Torres injured.
Those who smugly sit thinking "Glad I'm not a Liverpool fan" beware. It's coming your way. Soon.

1 comment:

  1. LIVERPOOL has to tally that they are no longer in contention to vie in the premier league i love the club but what i see i have to take a bow,we don't have players who are gallant and what i saw last night it gives me va va voom maybe there is a stationery points to club,new owners of LIVERPOOL should have gave HODGSON the mandate that the club need to play in the UCL next season.