Whereas I have to admit that Liverpool’s ongoing takeover saga has provided good copy since their boardroom civil war broke out nine days ago, it’s probably fairly safe to say that we (that is, those of us that have no real vested interest in the outcome of chronicles) are now heartily sick to the sodding molars of it.
The fact that even the most insignificant of minutiae has been poured over by all and sundry has led to unprecedented levels of over-saturation, which in turn has led to a kind of nationwide apathy – which is the last thing that a football club in dire straights should be generating.
There have been lengthy reports drafted to cover all the ins-and-outs of every little bit of desperate refinancing and legal skullduggery owners Hicks and Gillett have undertaken, minute-by-minute updates from the High Court hearings, detailed examinations of the accounts of even the most hopeless of potential buyers, soapboxes given to various supporters’ groups to voice their ire, doomsday headlines aplenty and even .pdf copies of legal writs released to the public.
All of which must be pretty galling to fans of teams like Sheffield Wednesday, Cardiff City and Chester, who saw their clubs dragged through the mire with barely a murmur from the national press.
You could perhaps argue that Liverpool have received such unfettered attention due solely to their brand name’s prominent standing within the global game. Never before has such a high-profile English club flirted so publicly with becoming financially comatose, so tales of administration and points deductions are bound to fuel the imagination of the masses.
The scare-mongering has been rife during the ordeal. It’s a safe bet that Liverpool won’t be put into administration as that particular ball is entirely in creditors Royal Bank of Scotland‘s court and, seeing as though it is they who are also being dragged through the courts by Hicks and Gillett (and with a £300 million bid waiting in the wings), you can imagine that a certain amount of empathy will be forthcoming regarding their imposed debt deadline.
Even upon the remote chance that Kop Holdings are placed into receivership, it is highly likely that the Premier League will grant special dispensation and waive the nine-point deduction, as it was only the continued rankling of the baseless court proceedings brought about by Hicks that prevented the Liverpool board (and, by proxy, the club itself) from hammering out the deal with New England Sports Ventures that would have seen the outstandings paid off in full with time to spare.
All this melodrama served to promote Liverpool’s campaign to have their cancerous moles lopped off onto the national stage, but must have rung oh so hollow to fans of clubs that have actually witnessed their teams come within hours of liquidation – or have had to watch them wiped from the realm of existence altogether.
For example, last month League One side Sheffield Wednesday narrowly avoided going into administration by the skins of their collective teeth after seeing their relatively piffling £700,000 tax bill settled by the Co-operative Bank, after having a winding-up order placed upon the club by HRMC three months prior.
Entering administration would have meant that Wednesday would’ve faced a ten-point deduction by the Football League, and would have also seen their plans to host World Cup matches in 2018 (should England’s bid be successful) ruined.
The Owls are still looking for a buyer (although a takeover bid is currently in the offing), but you wouldn’t know it if you didn’t know where to look, and over the past few years it’s been a similar story for Cardiff, Accrington Stanley, Bournemouth, Darlington, Crystal Palace, Southampton, Luton…etc, etc and we all know what happened to Chester City not so very long ago..
The closest we’ve ever come to the levels of hysteria currently surrounding Liverpool’s financial turmoil is when Portsmouth became the first Premier League club to officially enter administration last February.
It caused a low-level stir when Pompey were docked nine points and rather confusingly fined £1 million by the Premier League board for ‘breaching rules and regulations’, but the interest soon waned. The fact that their crippling levels of debt have ensured that they are still in administration eight months down the line is seemingly neither here nor there.
The critical lesson that the Premier League need to take from Liverpool’s judicial and financial torments of the past few days/weeks/years (delete as you see fit) is that, if things continue in their current unsustainable vein, then the bottom is going to fall out of English football – and, given the plights of so many of our lower league clubs, you could feasibly argue that the terminal rot has already well and truly set in.
Sh*t always rains from the top and pools at the bottom.