Football club ownership, like politics and any public sphere activity that commands the attention of the masses (i.e. is a money-spinner), is an absolute sham. You’re not only being lied to be the players involved but also by the people you trust to tell you the truth, all at the expense of money and a good story.
So let’s dispense with the bullshit surrounding Liverpool’s proposed takeover and look at the facts (Rafa Benitez style, sans the lies):
Unreasonable demands on current Liverpool owners
Purslow and Broughton are urging Hicks / Gillett to take a 140m+ loss for the good of Liverpool. That’s fine boys, but have you been working for Liverpool for free all this time? No? Would you take a (comparatively miniscule) 100k loss in an year? No?
The ‘Yanks’ are businessmen, but regardless of what they have done (apart from lying about money at the start, not much else as everything has stemmed from that lack of money), how can you ask someone to ‘lose’ money (and fucking massive amounts of money at that) without being willing to lose some yourself?
Broughton is NOT a Liverpool fan any more than Hicks and Gillett are Liverpool fans. Purslow himself has replaced Parry, and is part of the same board that Rafa Benitez claimed ‘knew nothing about football’. As a money man, he is above all looking for the best deal for himself, so you can rest assured that the sale would benefit him more than the status quo.
The statements coming out of Liverpool – Purslow talking about having the owners leave with ‘some dignity’ and Broughton talking about his ‘confidence’ in his legal standing and that Hicks and Gillett had ‘gone back on their word’ – are indignified attempts to generate public sympathy for the prospective new ownership, without considering the financial ramifications.
If the press can call David Gill out as a liar for changing his tune after the Glazers took over, they can very well call out Broughton and Purslow for favouring an outcome that lines their own pockets. Or maybe it’s too early for that, maybe we should wait till Liverpool are again under debt and then cry over spilt milk?
New Owners Are Not Messiahs
Anyone but Hicks / Gillett won’t do for Liverpool. Despite their anxiousness to get rid of the current owners, Liverpool fans must not forget that the incoming owner needs considerable amounts of cash to a) pay off the debts, b) at least compensate the owners reasonably if not at their asking prices so that a deal can go through without legal wranglings and c) have money to at least partially fund a new stadium (it’s unreasonable to expect that someone will plough 300m upfront on a stadium, even the Arabs haven’t done that, so a loan will always be necessary).
NESV will, at the very least, pay off only the takeover debt. That will free up funds to invest in the squad (no new cash expected) from within existing cashflow. They will then take on a loan to fund the stadium.
New Owners Will Borrow – Like Current Owners
NESV are vultures. They’ve come in sniffing around for a bargain, and Liverpool, with the debt burden, on-field troubles and massive amounts of negative PR for the owners, is a basement bargain. At 300m they can a) buy a club for half of what it’s worth and b) build a stadium on loan, then resell at twice the buying value after 5-10 years.
That was the Hicks / Gillett plan initially, before the market went bust and they couldn’t afford to take out a second loan to finance the stadium. That’s exactly what the new owners will do, and guarantees about their funds should be met with suitable skepticism until it is unequivocally proven that they aren’t just conducting another leveraged buyout. As for the stadium loan / plans to flip the club after a suitable amount of time – that’s just what football club owners do, there’s nothing new in that, so we should just get on with it and accept the reality.
Biased Press Coverage
As the saying goes, a lie is half-way across the world before the truth has the chance to put it’s pants on. The story of prospective new owners who would ‘save’ Liverpool from debt and build a new stadium were too good to be true, and that was all that people were talking about before anyone took the time to investigate the whole thing in detail.
The trouble with listening to people talk about themselves – as we have listened to NESV’s PR machine run us over with their Stateside business success – is that most of the time it’s just PR. Liverpool fans had this with Hicks / Gillett, they’ll have it with NESV as well. The only difference this time around is that they know the mistakes made by H & G, and will do their best to avoid them. They just won’t tell you the truth, because that means more borrowings and someone taking a hit, and usually that’s the fans / club.
A parallel on the ‘new PR, same old shit’ routine can be seen with how Hicks and Gillett themselves learned from the Glazers’ mistakes and tried to be more engaging with the fans. Just as Mike Ashley has learned (and Abramovich and the Glazers have known all along), engaging with fans doesn’t mean that they will like you. Only performance matters, whether it’s the balance sheet of the club or the results table of the domestic league.
So we hear of NESV’s calculated rumour of ‘fans’ having a stake, or the rumour of redeveloping Anfield to help save money (of course, it’s not easy to get a big enough loan to build a new stadium these days). Or they talk about ‘winning’, which is a cheap trick but always a nice card to play with the club is down on its luck.
The only thing that will actually happen is that NESV, if they buy the club (which they should, as it seems Hicks / Gillett don’t have a real case for them), will end up causing the fans more grief, because they’re looking to make a buck (or a billion) off Liverpool, and lying to the fans about it.
Just like any other football club owner does. Except some keep their mouths shut and get on with it.