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Liverpool fans take fight online

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Dan Roan | 06:30 UK time, Wednesday, 29 September 2010

It seems supporters of Liverpool have been inspired by the way Barack Obama harnessed the power of the internet to reach the White House in 2008.

By using social media sites, blogs, viral email campaigns and online video, the then US presidential candidate generated a massive network of supporters via cyberspace. Now the Anfield faithful are attempting to do something similar as the club's ownership saga reaches a crucial moment.

With the mid-October deadline looming for Royal Bank of Scotland, Liverpool's main creditor, to decide whether to take control of the club from Tom Hicks and George Gillett, fans are intensifying their campaign to oust the American owners.

By using the internet to mobilise 'fan power' and lobby financial institutions who may be in a position to help Hicks and Gillett stay in control at Anfield, supporters hope to force a sale and have a significant say in the future direction of the club.

George Gillett and Tom Hicks

George Gillett and Tom Hicks have proved to be very unpopular with Liverpool fans. Photo: PA

Last week, as he sat on a Manhattan bench outside the offices of investment banks JP Morgan and Deutsche, Hicks was photographed by a Liverpool fan. The image was sent via Blackberry to the supporter's wife, who posted it on her Twitter account.

Thousands of miles away in Liverpool, taxi driver Alan Kayll, a leading member of the independent supporters' group Kop Faithful saw the image and quickly went to work. He drafted a letter urging the banks to refrain from lending Hicks any fresh finance and posted it, along with e-mail addresses of bank executives, on the internet. Soon hundreds of e-mails were bombarding the inboxes of senior bankers at both institutions.

Kayll denies the suggestion that this increasingly well-organised militancy may become exessive, and harm the reputation of the club. The front page of Kop Faithful's website features the logo of RBS drenched in blood, above a pledge that "We will go as far as we need to".

"We're not threatening anyone, we're simply trying to educate these bankers of the damage that Hicks and Gillett have done, not just to our club, but to our community" he says. "At Kop Faithful, our focus is the banks, preventing refinance to the existing owners and explaining to them why they should not help keep these owners in power.

"If we hear that Hicks is due for a meeting with a bank, within minutes we can mobilise via our forums and networks on Twitter and Facebook. Soon the bank's e-mail system will be inundated. We have the intelligence needed to keep ahead of the game. Liverpool fans are everywhere and, once we have the information, we can act quickly."

Hicks had just discovered that hedge fund GSO Capital Partners would not help him secure the £237m outstanding to the RBS. Once news of the Texan's negotiations with the debt restructuring firm had been leaked, Liverpool's fans had taken action.

"I have it on good authority that Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire owner of Blackstone (which owns GSO) received 7000 e-mails, urging him to walk away from any deal," says Kayll. "I hear their computer system crashed, such was the weight of e-mails we managed to generate from fans."

The degree to which the viral campaign actually worked is difficult to assess but talks with Hicks promptly ended without agreement. Kayll is in no doubt as to the reason. "Our efforts were hugely influential," he says.

Kop Faithful are now directing their efforts towards RBS. Supporters have been invited to e-mail the bank, appealing to executives to decide against granting Hicks and Gillett a new loan extension and instead call in the debt and seize power at Anfield.

"Our worry is that RBS are earning such huge sums in penalty fees and interest payments that they will let Hicks and Gillett off the hook and give them more time," says Kayll. "We plan to exert as much pressure as possible on RBS between now and their decision in October. They are receiving 10,000 e-mails a week from Liverpool fans. If they grant another extension, I think it's the beginning of the end for Liverpool FC. It's that serious."

RBS may well still decide to refinance Hicks and Gillett, prolonging the Americans' tenure at Anfield, but Kop Faithful's campaign means the bank will now be aware that it risks provoking a boycott of the bank by Liverpool fans - and the potential loss of thousands of customers - if it does so.

Meanwhile, the newly-unified supporter group Spirit of Shankly-Share Liverpool is the focal point for the supporters' efforts. Now boasting more than 50,000 registered members worldwide, it is stepping up its aim of raising £50m to buy a minority stake in the club in partnership with any prospective new owner.

Liverpool fans protest

Liverpool fans protest against the owners last Saturday. Photo: Getty

That push, the publicising of events like Saturday's sit-in after the Sunderland match and the march planned ahead of Sunday's game against Blackpool relies on online communication.

But in order to support and promote the efforts of SOS-SL, other independent fan groups like SaveLFC and Kop Faithful have sprung up. Sites and forums like The Liverpool Way, Red and White Kop, Anfield Online, The Rattle, This Is Anfield, Well Red and Anfield Road have all given normal fans a voice.

SaveLFC describes itself as "a consumer-facing, communications-focussed group aimed at promoting education and unity in favour of fit and proper ownership". It uses social media networks like Twitter and Facebook as well as its own website forum to keep its members informed of the latest ownership developments.

"We've focused on propaganda, viral content, and info-graphics to boost membership and illustrate what's happening at the club," says Roy Henderson, a 36-year old IT worker from Dundee and a leading member of SaveLFC.

"We've produced content in various media, including a video documentary. We have around 27,000 members who we're able to contact in an instant if there have been key developments."

The power of online propaganda has already been demonstrated along the M62. The Manchester United Supporters' Trust is working with Blue State Digital, the US internet campaign group whose email strategy helped Obama triumph two years ago. Tradition and heritage may be important to Liverpool's fans, but it is clear that they too are willing to embrace the latest forms of digital technology to aid their cause.


"The different groups are learning to work together and build a common platform that enables us to respond quickly with huge numbers of fans when news breaks, or when a good idea arises", says Henderson.

"It's amazing how many different people from so many different walks of life have come together. We have academics, finance experts, film directors, lawyers, writers, graphic-designers, even multi-millionaires.

"Using the internet there's now a mobilisation of Liverpool supporters, the like of which has never been seen before. Protest shirts have been designed, banner campaigns have been co-ordinated, a single has been released, online magazines have been published, media contacts have developed, and new technologies and media have mounted a successful global campaign to promote our interests.

"Many of us are well enough connected to know members of parliament and wealthy individuals personally. As such, we've seen the movement gradually become better integrated, funded, resourced and planned."

It may have taken time but it seems that, more than three years since Hicks and Gillett bought their club, Liverpool's fans are making their presence felt and momentum is gathering.

The power of the internet has already brought about the removal of one member of the Hicks family from the Liverpool boardroom. In January, Tom Hicks Jnr was forced to resign as a director after sending an abusive e-mail to Stephen Horner, a prominent member of Kop Faithful.

Liverpool's burgeoning fan movement will now hope their collective efforts in cyberspace can help bring about the departure of Hicks Snr, too.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about at my Twitter account http://twitter.com/danroan


Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Here's a thought - have any Liverpool fans, in their rush to push out Tom and George, giving any thought to the fact that this level of militantism (however justified) is causing other owners to walk away? Sovereign wealth funds do not like to attract attention, let alone bad publicity, and individual owners may well be scared off. Who will want to buy a club that is languishing in the lower half of the table and with a fan base increasingly well organised and potentially vitriolic against a lack of success?

    You may say that this is purely against Tom and George, but will a prospective buyer see it that way?

  • Comment number 2.

    the efforts by the fans has been incredible - for a while it seemed the email campaigns were going nowhere but through persistence the efforts are now being recognized. It's a shame the media are only now just picking up on this. Fans first identified the issues mid-2008.

    To the poster above, if Hicks extends his tenure the club is finished. Championship football will be looming. To the outsider, this might seem a little dramatic. But any liverpool fan knows the true gravity of extending Hicks loan. With respect to scarying off future investment, I view it as sending out a message that our next owners will have to be people that care about the club, not just someone looking to fashion a cheap buck

    Football has been secondary to these issues for well over a year now. The club has been rotting from the top and it's transferred onto the pitch. If it takes administration, 9 point deductions and relegation to be rid of Hicks, then I would take it hands down. At least that way I'll still have a club to support in 2 years

  • Comment number 3.

    The really fast way to get rid of them is to boycott home games, all the fans turn up and have the game on a radio or something outside the stadium and cheers for their team without paying, how many weeks of this do you think the RBS would stand for? go for the jugular, killer blow, come on you scousers, lets have a real revolution and for a grand each they can have a minority stake, brilliant

  • Comment number 4.

    @1 Luthers

    You cannot ignore the fact that the fan base is the wealth of any club, and to suggest that Liverpool fans are all gonna just pack it in and start following Everton is ridiculous,also the action being taken would hopefully warn off any fast buck types from buying the club, Liverpool is a global product, with a passionate following, making it an extremely lucrative business.

  • Comment number 5.

    Any new owner of LFC is going to have to face numerous problems. As post 1 infers, they are going to have to re-engage and get the trust of the fans, but they are going to want to do this, as they are aware of the consequences. They must set the real expectations of the investment, start rebuilding the squad which will both take time - its going to take a lot of capital investment not only to take on the club but to make it successful. Which means that the fans must be patient.

    On a side note, 7000 emails will probably stop a few inboxes from working as they exceed their capacity, but unless the emails arrived in a very short time frame it wont crash the system. This could also be damaging the image if banks are not able to do their day job, and if it seen as an orchestrated campaign it could also prompt legal actions, especially in the US.

  • Comment number 6.

    I can't believe that any investment company would be so short sighted as to lend these Americans enough money to retain control of the club. I truly believe that there are many potential owners waiting in the wings for RBS to seize control and then buy the club from the bank so that they can get there debt paid back. If they let H & G off for another 9 months then they are merely delaying the sale as no one wants to pay the price that the Americans want. All this time the football team is sinking lower through lack of investment which makes it an even less appealing purchase. So H & G will start to strip the assets by selling the best players. If this happens, then I would fear for the Americans safety. All in all, RBS must seize control in October or it’s curtains for the club. What a nightmare!!

  • Comment number 7.

    On another note - and having read about the actions of fans in Germany - why dont the fans hit the owners where it hurts. At a home televised game, tell all fans not to go, yes its not great for the players, but this starts to put more pressure on the owners.

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm not a Liverpool fan but I do still feel strongly about this. If RBS do refinance Gillett & Hicks I think the fight needs to be extended to include all football fans - I'm sure Liverpool fans will find support across the entire football fan community because we all fear that if this happens to a team as big as Liverpool our team could be next.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    @7 Leiden_SS

    I suggested something like that on the third post here, it must have been construed as incendiary or something, but that is where the real power is.

  • Comment number 11.

    Leidens that will never happen, too many fickle fans in the UK, for every fan that boycotts a game another 2 are ready to take his place, as a United fan I would hate to see Liverpool go under, yes we are the best of enemies but you still have respect and admiration and want the cream of English football to be there, I am still amazed that no-one has come forward to buy Liverpol from these numpties but all is not lost and I am sure Football will win out....

  • Comment number 12.

    BBC equals Best of British Censorship

  • Comment number 13.

    I personally think that a lot of the campaigns that are mentioned above are a little pointless. I respect the Liverpool fans for fighting for their club, and I agree that H&G have done very little of what was promised when they took over the club, but what are they seriously hoping to achieve by emailing Stephen Schwarzman??!

    First of all, it is highly unlikely that he will have much to do with the decision making of what is and isn't bought into the Blackstone group, that is why they pay top money for the best people there. Second of all, even if he did have the final say, I would say that the guy has made enough money to analyse a business deal on its own merits without being told by a load of randoms the pros and cons of such a deal!

    H&G haven't produced, but it at the same time Liverpool fans appear to have very conveniently forgotten all about Rafa 'in him we trust' Benitez, who was responsible for much of the sub-standard squad they currently have. For years the fans spent their time defending Rafa, claiming it wasn't his fault, that he had no money, yet poor signings continued to come in and then promptly back out of the revolving door at Anfield.......there are other parties that should accept some of the blame for their current plight....

  • Comment number 14.

    Do you think Liverpool fans will be staring crushing defeat in the face two years after running a successful online campaign like Mr. Obama?

  • Comment number 15.

    I have always believed that a football club and its fans always get the owners they deserve. Mine's a double.

  • Comment number 16.

    @woodsforthetrees #13..... Seriously? What does emailing Stephen Schwarzman do? Well, if it's to be believed it essentially made Blackstone / GSO pull out of refinancing. They received thousands of emails and realised this is not an investment that is worth the wrath of tens of thousand of fans. Look at News Corporation, who after their disgusting and incorrect reports on the Hillsborough disaster faced a backlash from Liverpool fans and as such (according to reports) are losing £10m per year in revenues. Companies that WE make aware of what's happening at our club, that then won't refinance H&G - it can only be a good thing. Personally I'd send a million emails and a million more until my fingers fell off to ensure this doesn't happen.

    I don't think people realise how important it is that Hicks doesn't get an option to buy Gillett out. If Hicks gets the money to do this (plunging us further into debt) then he'll have the power to remove Christian Purslow and Ian Broughton from the board (they might be media snakes, but they're better than what will follow) If this happens, Hicks will bring in Hicks Jr, and more of his cronies to sit on the board. Making it Ian Ayre Vs Hicks + 3. The majority vote.

    He'll then be able to pass any rule through - placing Anfield, Melwood, and our players as assets. It'll immediately become the end of our once great club, and we cannot let it happen.

  • Comment number 17.

    I agree with #3 about fans boycotting the games, it's no good getting everyone to come along to attend sit-ins - did Liverpool keep the paid for facilities like food outlets open for the extra couple of hours they were there?

    I applaud the fans online actions and it would be great if they could eventually all own a percentage stake in the club, but although Dan says they are 'coming together' he mentions at least twenty or so seperate organisations with their own agendas. They need an 'Obama' type leader to truely rally behind - time for Dalglish to quit his current role at the club and step forward? Would anyone be comfortable donating serious money to a fringe online group...better one body acts for all?

    I'm sure similar actions are going on at United? Even 100,000 protest members are a drop in the ocean to big finance..unfortunately!

  • Comment number 18.

    Here's a thought - have any Liverpool fans, in their rush to push out Tom and George, giving any thought to the fact that this level of militantism (however justified) is causing other owners to walk away? Sovereign wealth funds do not like to attract attention

    --------

    It's about time people stopped grovelling to wealth. Much of which has been earned through less than pleasant means.

    Liverpool fans ARE the club.

    And what they want must come first!

    And that goes for all football clubs and it should apply to other walks of life too!!!


















  • Comment number 19.

    @Leidens_SS et al - there is a growing movement by fans to boycott home games. There were 20,000 empty seats at Anfield for the Europa League match against Steaua Bucharest. I watched the game on TV and was amazed at how many empty seats there were. The average gate at Afield is over 40,000. If Hicks and / or Gillett do somehow manage to cling on I think you'll start seeing that for PL games. They have to go.

  • Comment number 20.

    Frankly I find this kind of militant action, and the manner in which it is being reported, very distasteful. As has happened all too often over the past few years, the arguments for the American bosses are completely ignored. The notion that they gave plenty of their hard earned - £18m on Mascherano, £25m on Torres, £18m on Keane, £17m on Johnson - to Rafa, plus god only knows how many other smaller amounts which he squandered, now seems consigned to the history books.

    They did not see the return on their investment which they could have expected, and now the world economic situation has forced their hand. I guarantee of Tom & George were born and bred Liverpudlians, the attitude of the self-titled "most knowledgable fans in football" would be vastly different. It all leaves a very bad taste.

  • Comment number 21.

    @MikeW001 The Americans didn't put any of their own money into the club - it was a leveraged takeover, they borrowed the money to buy the club which is why we're in the situation we're in now. Do get your facts straight - read this: http://www.anfield-online.co.uk/lfc-news/2010/a-brief-note-on-lfc-debt/

  • Comment number 22.

    How difficult would it be for some reporters to do some real reporting? The situation is complicated but not impossible. The facts as I understand them are neither Hicks nor Gillet owe RBS any money, the situation is reversed, they are owed money by the club. In a company that has two shareholders the board has no power. The director’s obligation is to the company, in English law the company is very narrowly defined and can be thought of as the shareholders, all major decisions have to be approved by the shareholders. RBS cannot ‘seize power’ without some form of legal action, presumably in this case putting the company into administration. This has several problems, the league will deduct points and the administrations have to act in the best interest of all creditors this includes Hicks and Gillet. Though legally this may not be the same Hicks and Gillet that own the club. It could be the case that RBS has taken Kop Holdings equity as collateral for the loans, though I’d ask a lawyer if on default ownership of the equity is transferred to the creditor or it just has the right to liquidate the asset. It wouldn’t take much for a BBC journalist to call a corporate lawyer to confirm the legal position.

    Also never believe anything that is attributed to ‘sources close to the deal’. Ask yourself who benefits from the knowledge being made public and banks leaking information is a legal matter.

    How much power do football fans have over companies such as JP Morgan and Blackstone? Large investment banks have shown themselves to be immune from pressure by shareholders, regulators and governments let alone individuals who will never be customers. How many scousers are going to stop calling JP Morgan for their CDS quotes?

  • Comment number 23.

    @7 Leiden_ss

    The Germans have a stronger sense of the collective.

  • Comment number 24.

    I still find it amazing how people are trying to put the club's financial state onto Benitez. The man made us a force in Europe again and started building a great side but wasn't given the backing to buy the world class talent that was required to take us that next step and had to buy bargain basement players.

    Anyway that's irrelvant. Hick and Gillett are destroying the club and cannot be allowed to retain ownership and the fans are doing any means possible to make it so.

    A boycott of Cup games is in affect and you'll have noticed by attendance figures for these games that they are already getting lower attendances than expected. This will continue.

    A complete boycott isn't realistic as people will still take someone elses ticket because we have a massive world wide fan base that most clubs would love.

    Were battling hard to educate our own fans as well as educating others and thankfully the message is starting to get through to most.

  • Comment number 25.

    I'm sorry Liverpool fans but if you think that the decision of a hedge fund manager in the US is going to be influenced by receiving some e-mails from a bunch of football fans then you are living in cloud cuckoo land.
    These are not companies that need to sell products to consumers, they simply invest huge amounts of money in order to make big returns and as we all know the money brought in by TV rights is by far the biggest money spinner as far as football is concerned.

    The problem with this is that nobody knows what sort of state the discussions between Hicks and JP Morgan and Duestche were in, but because they broke down the fans are now going to think that it's all down to them.

    The problem is that the way the Liverpool fans are going on it's like they are about to go out of business completely, not just that they are going to lose Big4 status and become a mid-table team.

    I would have more sympathy if there had been all this protest straight away but the fact is that most Liverpool fans thought that they would invest huge sums of money to enable Liverpool to challenge Man Utd/Chelsea. Hicks and Gillett took charge in Feb 2007 but the "Spirit of Shankley" wasn't set up until January 2008. There are fans in far worse off positions than Liverpool fans yet they are getting nowhere near the amount of coverage for their causes.

    I do have sympathy for Liverpool fans in this situation but with the number of clubs facing winding up orders you must excuse me for thinking that they aren't the hardest done by fans in the UK.


  • Comment number 26.

    @MikeW001 - H&G have not spent a penny on the club. Not a single penny!

    In fact they have taken millions out in expenses and fees. On top of that, every penny of profit (which is £30m-£40m per year) from the clubs itself is spent servicing the loans. But that alone isn't enough to cover the interest, so they then loan the club more money from their parent companies.

    In the last 4 transfer windows, the club has turned a profit on players sales - simply to try to balance the books.

  • Comment number 27.

    @gilesmc

    You're being pedantic. If someone said they had paid a lot for a house, you wouldn't say "Ah, but you didn't pay for it, the bank did". T&G are still going to have to pay back that initial loan, so one way or another they took on a big financial commitment and had every right to expect much better than what Rafa provided. Personally I don't think they are innocent parties here either, but the blatant anti-american sentiment which hangs heavy over this whole affair leaves a bad taste.

  • Comment number 28.

    The actions of the fans are very commendable. What is required right now before the refinancing or decision by the RBS is to have one game boycotted. This will put into light what the fans can really do and hurt the Yanks most.... cutting off the supply of the cash.

    We know the fans very much like watching and supporting their team but ...

    "DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DESPERATE MEASURES"

    A boycott of the next home game is a must....

  • Comment number 29.

    @MikeW001 Pedantic? I don't think so. Your analogy doesn't stand up - houses aren't businesses. You wouldn't buy a house with a 100% mortgage, then lend yourself some more money (at a massively inflated interest rate) to help pay the interest on the mortgage. Why did H&G have every right to expect better than Rafa provided? I'm not Benitez' greatest fan but he had a pretty good run up until last year, despite the fact that he didn't have the transfer budget to match Man U, Chelsea or latterly Man City. The owners' nationality is neither here nor there to me - I'd feel the same way if they were Liverpudlian.

  • Comment number 30.

    @Richyburger wrote:
    I would have more sympathy if there had been all this protest straight away but the fact is that most Liverpool fans thought that they would invest huge sums of money to enable Liverpool to challenge Man Utd/Chelsea. Hicks and Gillett took charge in Feb 2007 but the "Spirit of Shankley" wasn't set up until January 2008. There are fans in far worse off positions than Liverpool fans yet they are getting nowhere near the amount of coverage for their causes.

    I do have sympathy for Liverpool fans in this situation but with the number of clubs facing winding up orders you must excuse me for thinking that they aren't the hardest done by fans in the UK.

    ----------
    We are not looking for your sympathy. We are not trying to make out our problems are worse than other clubs.

    Liverpool is our club and we are trying to take action to solve the problem that we have. I don't see how other clubs being worse off is relevant to the debate.

  • Comment number 31.

    @27 MikeW001

    your suave semantics are not cutting it, these Americans are really just high stakes gamblers, your affinity for the business community is all very well, the metaphor you whipped up is not really relevant to this issue, comparing a domestic home buyer with these people is not an accurate allegory.

  • Comment number 32.

    @MikeW001 wrote:
    Frankly I find this kind of militant action, and the manner in which it is being reported, very distasteful. As has happened all too often over the past few years, the arguments for the American bosses are completely ignored. The notion that they gave plenty of their hard earned - £18m on Mascherano, £25m on Torres, £18m on Keane, £17m on Johnson - to Rafa, plus god only knows how many other smaller amounts which he squandered, now seems consigned to the history books.

    They did not see the return on their investment which they could have expected, and now the world economic situation has forced their hand. I guarantee of Tom & George were born and bred Liverpudlians, the attitude of the self-titled "most knowledgable fans in football" would be vastly different. It all leaves a very bad taste.
    -----------
    I find describing this action - peaceful and non-violent action- as militant distastefull. And your insinuation that we so unhappy with the situation because we are xenephobic towards our american owners.

    You are clearly not educated in with the situation either. The owners have not put any of their own money towards player purchases. The money for signings has come entirely from the clubs profits and player sales.

    For the last 4 transfer windows, the club has made a profit from transfer sales. No investment has been made on players. Liverpool football club would be a profit making organisation, but for the debt that was used to buy the club. Circa £40m every year is wiped off the clubs profits in order to service debt.

    The best way Christian Purslow could spin this situation was to say that we can "just about" make these debt payments.

  • Comment number 33.

    Sounds all a bit 'Project Mayhem' from Fight Club.

  • Comment number 34.

    the idea of boycotting home games wont work as far as understand the majority of crowd are season ticket holders, means they have pre paid,
    no loss of revenue for club there,better to boycott club shop re shirts etc ,cancel subscriptions to lfc online tv clubs .

  • Comment number 35.

    gilesmc wrote:

    I'm not Benitez' greatest fan but he had a pretty good run up until last year, despite the fact that he didn't have the transfer budget to match Man U, Chelsea or latterly Man City.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    LOL - during the lifetime of the Premier League, Liverpool's NETT spend per season is just under £10mil (4th biggest spenders behind City, Chelsea and Spurs)

    Since 2003/2004 season, the NETT figure rises to just over £12mil (liverpool remain 4th behind the same 3)

    Thus, Liverpool fans (whose team has spent more on average than Man Utd since the last time Liverpool won the league) cannot complain Utd have had better resources at their disposal: It's not true! LFC have just managed to be less competent with their money

  • Comment number 36.

    Cragglerock82 wrote:
    "I still find it amazing how people are trying to put the club's financial state onto Benitez. The man made us a force in Europe again and started building a great side but wasn't given the backing to buy the world class talent that was required to take us that next step and had to buy bargain basement players"

    Get a grip on yourself, the man had more money to spend than most in the premiership, hell...he spent more than chelsea in his last years, the kop allowed him to live off "lucky" Istanbul

  • Comment number 37.

    A number of people here are twisting my mortgage analogy to try to make me look stupid. A classic method, particularly online, of how to "win" an argument. I'm simply saying that pulling notes out of your own pocket is not the only method of making a financial commitment - many Liverpool fans here seem to be suggesting that T&G have made no financial commitment.

    I'm also not saying that all Liverpool fans are xenophobic, however when banners like "Yanks Go Home" are displayed, I'm sure you'll appreciate where I'm coming from. Imagine if the investors were of Pakistani descent and "Yanks" was replaced with another word....now you'll get my point.

    I accept they have to share some of the blame, but Rafa wasted vast amounts of the club's cash. Hodgson himself remarked on the huge amount of deadwood at the club. I accept that in the last couple of years, investment has dried up. However that blame can be attributed in equal parts to T&G not making further losses, to Rafa's lack of transfer acumen and the the global economic situation.

    Oh and Jamie, the term militant relates to a person using organised, confrontational tactics, regardless of violent or pacificist methods.

  • Comment number 38.

    Boycott matches that's the only way to get a message across. Unfortunately, the British mentality is such that they'll moan about it but will take no action what so ever.

    I stopped going to matches and stopped my Sky subscription as it is so ridiculously expensive and has become all about results and finance, but not enough about the fans!! I will only start getting them back once I think i'm getting value for money!!

    Football fans in this country are treated as "mugs"!!

  • Comment number 39.

    Semi-literate football fans should not be allowed to dictate the financial dealings of corporations.
    That's were anarchy takes over.

  • Comment number 40.

    Instead of actually boycotting a game, because lets be honest with as much will in the world fans just can't bring themselves to do it. Pick the next TV game and turn up 15 minutes after KO. Sky or ESPN are sure to pick up on it, the distrubance it'll cause for 15 minutes following as fans take their seats will effect the game and you'll get huge press for it.

    Not turning up - couple of lines in the newspapers ! Complete Mayhem - pages of reporting across the world !

  • Comment number 41.

    "Football fans in this country are treated as "mugs"!!"

    Funny that.

  • Comment number 42.

    @MikeW001 - what you orignally said was "that they gave plenty of their hard earned". No they didn't - it was the bank's money. Want to take that back?
    @fedupruingelridiculousireland - Benitez joined Liverpool for the '04 - '05 season, so it's hardly fair comparing figures for the lifetime of the Premiership, or even from '03 - '04. Out of interest, where do your figures come from? I'd be interested in doing a direct comparison of the spending of Man U, Chelsea and City over that period. That would be a fairer comparison, despite the fact it might well still not be very flattering to Benitez. Nonetheless, it's still clear that in his last 3 transfer windows in charge of the club he didn't have a lot of money to spend.

  • Comment number 43.

    Just wondering, can anyone summarise for me why exactly Liverpool's current predicament is H&G's fault? Or why they get so much flak?

    They've provided funds for a number of big signings on their watch (Torres, Aqualani, Keane, Mascherano, Glen Johnson, Riera, to name just a few). They don't, as far as I know, get involved in the managers affairs (team selection, etc).

    I'm genuinely curious why LFC fans place the blame at their feet? What is it that they're doing/not doing? thanks.

  • Comment number 44.

    @MikeW001 -

    So far, H&G have not paid in *any* way - beyond the cost of the ink used to sign various load agreements, and the banks probably paid for that even.

    And Rafa spent £90 Net over 6 seasons and brought in 5 trophies of varying calibre. The only reason ManU didn't spend more in that period was because of the £80m recd for Ronaldo. And factor in the fact that in Fergie already had an EPL-winning squad to start with, makes Rafa's acheivements all the more remarkable. ManC, Chelsea, Spurs all spent more, and with the exception of Chelsea all achieved less.

    Now Arsenal deserve credit - they borrowed sensibly to fund a new stadium and now they are reaping the dividends.

    Liverpool fans hoped for owners who could finance a stadium, but we'd be fine if we were left to spend the £40 profit we generate each season. Instead, we are being bled to the tune of £50m or greater each year. Penalty fees incurred by the owners, to the tune of £20m in August alone, are now having to be paid by the club.

    PS. The global down-turn has nothing to do with the clubs predicament. Owners bought the club, promising no debt to be put on the club - they lied. Not only did they lumber the club with debt but it was finance by short-term loans at high interest rates.

    Most of your fellow Chelsea fans are far more gracious. At least they acknowledge the role that ownership played in their successes.

  • Comment number 45.

    @U7802718:
    "Semi-literate football fans should not be allowed to dictate the financial dealings of corporations.
    That's were anarchy takes over."

    -----------------------

    I think you meant 'where'. Before you start calling people semi-literate, perhaps you ought to master spelling and grammar yourself?

  • Comment number 46.

    @gilesmc - Yep, happy to take that back - I'm here for a discussion not a fight and my wording was rushed and a little poor. However I don't think it makes a huge amount of difference. It's still a big financial commitment they made to the club.

  • Comment number 47.

    i just sent an email to RBS. Come on Pool fans do what you have to do

  • Comment number 48.

    Liverpool "fans". Always looking for someone to blame for the poor performance of your team. If it wasn't the current owners it would be somebody else.
    If the fans are the club, as has been spouted on numerous occasions, then why haven't they stumped up the cash and bought LFC ? Nah, who could you blame then for the failings of the team ?
    Rafa messed up. Just admit it.

  • Comment number 49.

    The one thing that doesn't seem to sink into the average football fan's mind is - perhaps someone doesn't want to come in and spend £300m on getting some players in? So who exactly do you plan on getting to buy the club? Someone who will willingly write off a few hundred million over night?

    People have been saying "the football bubble's burst" for the last 10 years, well it finally has now, cos unless you have an owner who believes money is no object and has a spare 5 billion for a football team, you're not going to get 200m investments every summer. A club simply doesn't make enough money to do that.

    Clubs have priced themselves out the market by asking/paying silly prices in the first place.

  • Comment number 50.

    This strength of feeling of fans could only be generated by a handful of clubs around the world and Liverpool is one of these. If RBS were effectively to buy the club, how would it be run ? To what extent would these Liverpool FC splinter groups have a say in the decisions made ? They're clearly able to influence proceedings by speaking with one voice in any way they choose.

    Serious Football

  • Comment number 51.

    I think its awful that the author of this article is basically giving further air time and column inches to people who are bullying others through sheer weight of numbers rather than anything logical! Covering the RBS logo with blood is disgraceful and in no way should be allowed to help publicise their goals. As a Newcastle fan I understand the LFC fans in their fear that their owners are driving their clubs into the ground. However there are correct ways to protest, such as the march and the sit in, not this childish threatening behaviour such as claiming "we will go as far as we need to".
    Mobilise support through the internet by all means but childish threatening and bullying behaviour is appauling as is the publicity it has been given in this article.

  • Comment number 52.

    You can't compare the word yank to the abbreviation of Pakistani. The latter has been used as an offensive word towards that particular group for many years. Yank is just a term people use for Americans and is hardly offensive unless you're a particularly sensitive soul.

    We're referring to 2 particular Americans. The word yanks is just a convenient way to group them together, it's clear we mean those two. I converse online with a few American reds and none are bothered by the use of the word. They have even used it themselves.

    I don't think people are really saying they haven't made a "financial commitment". I hear plenty say that they have invested little or none of their own money, which is true. I don't see what you're trying to prove by saying they have made a financial commitment. The did, they gambled and lost, but it's the club and not them who are paying the price.

    Benitez's transfer dealings have nothing to do with the transfer budget being cut. Beside the fact that it is only an opinion that he did poorly in the transfer market (many would argue the opposite) how does making a poor signing mean the budget next year is cut? Under Benitez, we played in the champions league every year, getting to the latter stages (1/4/ final onwards) more often than not including two finals. This on field success brought in substantial revenues. If anything, Rafa is responsible for inflating the budget pre hick's and gillet.

    £40m a year in interest payments is the significant factor behind our falling and now non-existent transfer budget. Saying Benitez is equally responsible for this is ludicrous.

  • Comment number 53.

    @MikeW001 - good on you, nice to see a gracious response. I still disagree about H&G's financial commitment to the club though. They gambled on the continued availability of cheap credit (not the only ones...), and when it dried up and the banks started to get jittery, they lent money to the club with an interest rate of 10%. If Anfield Online is to be believed, the amount the club owes H&G in interest payments on the loan is £30 million. If they were really committed to the club, would they have charged such a grossly inflated rate of interest? If you can tell me where I can get a 10% return for my money I'll happily plough right in.
    If you add the £120 million we've incurred to RBS / Wachovia in interest and penalty fees, it's easy to see that if the club had even half of that money to spend on players we'd have a much stronger squad than we do today.
    Then there's the promise they made to build a new stadium...

  • Comment number 54.

    Oh jeez, enough with the transfer expenditure argument! We know we've spent a shed load of money, we know we bought a lot of rubbish, we know we only got a handful of world class players out of it, we know Benitez is to blame, change the record!!

    The point is H&G have to go. This thread isn't an analysis of our transfer activities, it's an analysis of H&G.

    In my view, our current footballing problems have nothing to do with the ownership saga. Sure it'd be nice to have an unlimited pot of money to dip in to when things get tough, but we don't. We never have done, and we're never likely to have one the way things are going. However, our players are certainly good enough for top 6. They're just not performing! You can't blame that on anyone other than the players themselves. They have a lot to answer for. No disrespect to Northampton, but the team we put out was easily good enough to give them a thrashing.

    But in terms of the club, we will never move forward (new stadium etc etc) utnil H&G are replaced with people who actually know a thing or two about business. Whether you other fans like it or not, the fact is that we are the biggest club in Britain, and one of the biggest in Europe. So if potential administration/relegation can happen to the likes of us, then other clubs should be very worried.

    I asked this question in another blog, but don't think i got an answer so will ask it again. According to reports in the FT etc, H&G are worth roughly $4bn. OK, they might not be cash-rich as it's almost all in assets, but if they truly wanted to make a success of the club then why don't they sell, say, $1bn worth of assets (an NHL team or a company for example) and pump all the money in to Liverpool. They'd wipe the slate clean, get the new stadium built, get some decent players in, happy days. I'm sure they wouldn't do that though as they are clearly trying to monopolise what they've got and make a fast buck. Although they're not doing too well at that.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    Hicks & Gillet are doing a damn fine job in my opinion. Long may it continue.....

  • Comment number 57.

    I don't think some of the fans critising the campaign against the owners actually realise what is going on.

    Peter Risdale pushed Leeds over the precipice because he gambled on success that wasn't forthcoming. It might have come off, but it didn't.

    The American owners have also taken a gamble. They made a leveraged purchase, they planned to add some value, and then sell for a huge profit. You could say that they did add *some* value - Appointing Ian Ayre has helped increase non-matchday revenues by a reasonable amount.

    However, because they were after a quick profit, and didn't have a longer term plan like the Glazers, the burden of the debt far outweighs the increased revenues. This has nothing to do with the credit crunch - a longer term deal would have been signed in the more favourable days of 2007.

    Forget the fact that they lied completely about the leveraged buyout - if they had been better businessmen, they would have had a long term deal in place and would be taking 50% of our profits to pay the debt, rather than the 125% that it currently requires.

    The leverage buyout was a lie, but the real sin was the fact that they couldn't do it properly.

    Liverpool fans don't want a Suger Daddy. We want someone to enables to get a new stadium and be allowed to feed most of the matchday profits back into the team. That is all.

  • Comment number 58.

    @cjm #44. A lot of what you're saying including the Arsenal situation and comparisons with SAF (who's failings in the transfer market are frequently ignored) doesn't really have anything to do with what I'm saying, so I won't bother responding.

    T&G have made a financial commitment. I don't care if they haven't actually paid anything YET - the commitment is still there.

    The issue of T&G lending the club cash to pay off their own loan and then charging huge interest is a disgrace - I've never said they are blameless and this is certainly their major crime against LFC in my opinion.

    Rafa bought a lot of rubbish - god only knows how many signings he made but the vast majority failed to come off. How many showed genuine market nous? Less than half a dozen I reckon.

    The global market has certainly played a part. T&G are global businessmen and to suggest that their unwillingness to commit further to the club has nothing at all to do with the downturn is ludicrous.

    Oh and I'm not a Chelsea fan, and even if I was I've not commented on their success at all.

  • Comment number 59.

    Thank you Dan.

    Some of the more naive comments made are disappointing, but unsurprising.
    The campaigns that are being brought to light by Dan's piece are articulate, well-considered and clearly targeted. The whole premise of the article was to highlight the progression from the benign to the impactful. The significant show of strength that was excellently supported and very well co-ordinated by SoS at the game on Saturday was a fantastic demonstration of the visible support for change amongst a growing number of fellow reds, but is just one element. The bottom line is that that club is in a parlous position. It faces the real threat of refinance for Hicks allowing him to take control of the board which could have devastating implications for the balance sheet, which is clearly a real threat to the affairs and activities on the pitch. In the midst of such a threat it is surely right that true supporters (who have invested time, money and emotion over years and years to follow THEIR team) are supported in their efforts to influence a better outcome? I appreciate that fierce rivalries exist - I share them at the game, but I would feel no longterm satisfaction were a rival of ours to suffer the same fate. The rivalries and the competition are what makes the game our game - not the overpaid superstars or the executive boxes, but the banter between supporters who feel it in their guts. SO, to all who say its pointless, thanks, but I'll keep trying thanks. I'll know that no matter what the outcome, a few of us could do no more.
    Well in to Alan & Roy and all those involved. For those who need more information take a look at Spirit of Shankly, RAWK or any of the dedicated forums to find out how you can help.
    Or try searching for
    "Our club. Our shirt" - OUT OF THE R£D & INTO THE BLACK"

  • Comment number 60.

    It's all fine saying H&G have to go, and I completely agree. The real crux of the matter though is this. Were they ever going to be good for the club? We're talking about two American businessmen here. Why on earth did they want to get involved with the club? To make money of course! They have no affinity to the club, and they are here to make a quick buck, which by all accounts, they will unless RBS take over.

    So, I think you have to look at the previous ownership for letting these guys in. Perhaps they were sweet talked like the rest of us Liverpool fans with promises of a new stadium and investment in world class players to help us compete on a level playing field with the Chelseas and Man Utds of this world. Promises were made, and then broken. The bottom line is though, H&G simply don't care. All they are focused on right now is getting out and making a profit. They have covered themselves sufficiently so that at the very least they will break even.

    Sadly, the people who will be making decisions about the future of our club have no vested interest in the club. That is, they care not one jot about Liverpool FC, they are only interested in making as much money as possible from Liverpool FC for themselves. New owners are clearly needed, but if you were a prospective buyer of the club, let's be honest, why are you interested? It's an opportunity to buy into a worldwide brand at a knock-down price, and sell it on in a few years, making a tidy profit in the process.

    New owners are needed, but they're not necessarily the answer. Football needs to take a serious look at itself, and think about reform.

  • Comment number 61.

    Football fans seem to be in dreamland. If i was a wealthy investor, why would i invest in a football club?

    It will cost me in the region of 300 million pounds to buy the club and further investments later on. I would be interested in knowing how would i get my money back. Especially even in a club of Arsenal strict pay scale, player's wages amounts to about 40% of club turnover.

    Have you guys ever watched Dragons Den? None of them would ever invest in this business, as they will never make their money back unless they sell to another hapless wealthy benefactor.

    Football clubs should be owned by the fans and all profits generated should go back to the club. There is no place for owners to make personal gain from it. If they try to make personal gain, then situation similar to Liverpool's will unfold.

  • Comment number 62.

    @61 arsenalforlife

    do you know how much glazier paid for man utd? and how much he wants for it now? there is a massive amount of money to be made, do you really think these investors are stupid? the Dragons Den people are midgets compared to the likes of Abramovich and co, but it would not be a quick return, investors looking for a fast return would be frustrated.

  • Comment number 63.

    The club is a cheap street hooker… you paraded yourself about (with the fans blessing) to the Arabs, the Yanks and anybody in-between who has a bit of cash to throw your way for the glimpse of future success and the thought of competing with the likes of Man United, Chelsea and now Man City.
    The vast majority of Liverpool fans eyes lit up and thought of what could have been without thinking of the consequences. The only thought of the ‘fans’ was a quick fix to compete without thinking of the long term – the club still has to be at the top 20, 30, 100 years from now and with a rich sugar daddy owner model who pumps in cash can’t happen as you have all seen with Blackburn Rovers – this is the future of Man City & Chelsea and Now Liverpool.
    The fans should have known better and especially the manager who complained about the lack of funds and trying to compete with the top 4. You need to look at the Ajax/Arsenal model and invested in youth sell a few players every season make profit and have a conveyer belt of talent to back up the stars who you are willing to sell to the likes of Real, Barcelona, Milan ect..
    Blaming the owners is not going to get out of the plight you are in; if the global meltdown didn’t happen you would be on your way to a new stadium. It’s just unlucky
    I have no sympathy for the club if it does go bust due to the greed of everyone connected when they thought they were gona be the next billionaires on Football row…instead you got what you deserved..

  • Comment number 64.

    @MikeW001 OK, my last word for now: As I said before, I'm not Rafa's greatest fan, and I don't think his transfer dealings were brilliant. They can't have been that bad though, or else how was it possible for the club to make a profit on tranfers for the last four transfer windows?@snowJacuzzi007 - the transfer policy is germane to this debate, as it's due to their stewardship that we haven't had more money to spend on players. I'm not sure about H&G being worth $4 billion either - last year Hicks defaulted on loans of about $500 million. Which must make it quite hard to persuade people to lend him money, thank God!

  • Comment number 65.

    Glazier paid around 800 million, when the red knights were trying to muster the funds the figure he wanted was around 1.5 billion, after the figure came out there bid fizzled out.

  • Comment number 66.

    What a joke. I don't know who is more delusional, FatRafa, the Liverpool players or the fans. The Yanks brought money to Anfield and invested in players. They gave the gaffer free reign and he squandered it by buying the wrong players and buying players he didn't field and then selling them at a loss. Under Benitez the team got progressively worse each season. When the owners wanted to fire him for his poor performance and for his wasting their investment money fans and players protested. The owner's only mistake was giving in to this pressure - had they fired him earlier, Liverpool might have a winning side now. Rafa squandered millions of dollars of investment in this club. He put them on the financial stretcher by not using the money properly to create a winning side and earn a return on the investment. LFC fans ge a clue - you lot would run this team far worse than the yanks have - rafa would still be in charge if you had your way.

  • Comment number 67.

    gilesmc

    Not sure if the $4bn is true either to be honest, I just read it in the FT one day. Will have to do some digging on the internet! Although i doubt they're bothering the people at Forbes. :-) :-)

  • Comment number 68.

    @62 do you know how much glazier paid for man utd? and how much he wants for it now? there is a massive amount of money to be made, do you really think these investors are stupid? the Dragons Den people are midgets compared to the likes of Abramovich and co, but it would not be a quick return, investors looking for a fast return would be frustrated.

    ------

    In reply: That is exactly what i said. Money is only to be made when the club is sold on for a higher price. And lets be honest, How many Rich Arabs or Russian Oligarch are there to buy out clubs and make them their own playing fields.

    Do you honestly think Abramovich actually bought Chelsea as a business. He bought Chelsea football club and invested heavily in it, so he could experience champagne football. In fact Abramovich have written off all the debts that Chelsea owes him. I admit Abramovich has stopped plunging money in recently, but that is because he wants Chelsea FC to become a self sustaining business model. But there is no way Chelsea can ever afford to pay back Abramovich whatever amount he was owed, at least in his life time.

    Football clubs are not good business models, as they are hugely overvalued. If I was a billionaire I would invest my Money somewhere else where I would get a 100% return without Hoping that someone wealthier and even more stupid than I am would buy the club, which has got limited earning power, to actually earn me some profit.

    I hope I have convinced you of my argument.

  • Comment number 69.

    To all of you proposing that Liverpool fans buycott their home games - give it up. It will never happen. The idiots that are prepared to pay £50 to watch a poor game of football have not got the brains to actually stand up and fight against the owners. The owners are laughing at you as you complain about them but still give them your money in over-inflated ticket prices and merchandising.

    The only way to actually get rid of them is for them to sell the club. They are worth over 4 billion in total and could easily pay off the current debt but they can't be bothered - Why?

    It is simple really - Liverpool are a bad investment for them. Because the team (which is the real investment) has been going down hill for at least the last 2 years and have no hope of getting additional income from competetions like the ECL they will let the bank take it off their hands for free - if you are lucky !!!

    As a chelsea fan I think it is all very funny !!!

  • Comment number 70.

    @Gilesmc #53: Thanks, it always pays to show a little good will and magnanimity on these forums. I can't argue with most of what you're saying - basically T&G made ths same mistake that many other people made leading up the economic boom and like many businesses, LFC are suffering. Although they too are suffering with the burden of a huge debt which shows no sign of being met. Had Rafa bought better players, then an investment suitor would have been easier to come by now - that's where I feel sorry for them.

    People like SnowJacuzzi - #54 - can be sick of hearing about transfer failings all they like, but it has played a huge part in where Liverpool are now.

    Jamie #52 - I can only shake my head at what you're saying regarding the term 'Yank'. The exact same nonsense was trotted out up until a couple of decades ago about other derogatory terms - fortunately now most people are a little more enlightened. It's this underlying sentiment that disturbs me most about this whole saga and if you look back to my first comment is why I felt inclined to post here.

    Finally, I agree that previous transfer dealings have had nothing directly to do with the budget being cut. I'm not sure when I suggested otherwise.

  • Comment number 71.

    I'm no expert on the matters at hand but I'm a little confused!

    On one hand you have the Liverpool fans complaining about the size of debt and then complaining that little or no investment was made to improve the squad.....which surely would have gotten the club in to more debt???

    From an outsiders view, it seems a lot of the animosity towards the owners is due to the fact they're American rather than the debt. Of course, I'll be 'proved' wrong but that's how I see it.

    It must be devestating to see your club play in the top league every year, play in Europe, win the odd trophy, spend millions on players etc etc etc......

  • Comment number 72.

    cjm wrote:
    @MikeW001 -

    And Rafa spent £90 Net over 6 seasons and brought in 5 trophies of varying calibre.

    **UEFA Champions League 2004–05, FA Cup 2005–06, UEFA Super Cup 2005 (Community Shield 2006)


    The only reason ManU didn't spend more in that period was because of the £80m recd for Ronaldo.

    ** Why discount this?


    And factor in the fact that in Fergie already had an EPL-winning squad to start with, makes Rafa's acheivements all the more remarkable.

    ** Rafa's best success was the champions league win in his first season. He bought in Josemi, Nunez, Pelligrino, Morientes, Carson, Garcia and Alonso.

    Alonso and Garcia were the only signings to feature in the win over AC (including 3 substitutions).

    Liverpool then won the super cup as well that season.

    The following season they narrowly beat West Ham to win the FA Cup - their lasst major trophy

    So, it was basically Houlier's team that won the Champs League/ Super Cup and Rafa won an FA Cup 4 years ago

  • Comment number 73.

    Problems with money for one of the most profligate of clubs in the Greed League? Strange the contrast between the desire for 'proper' financial management and the expectation from some fans who want a new stadium and the best players in the world before their eyes.

    Is Platini right about the insane levels of debt sloshing around the English League? Will there be some casulaties along the way to sound financial management and clubs living with tolerable levels of debt? Let's hope so

  • Comment number 74.

    OK, after accessing various websites such as Forbes etc and establishing some sort of "middle ground", it would seem that Hicks and Gillett are worth somewhere in the region of $2bn-ish.

    70 - MikeW0001, I'm not denying that it's played a huge part in our current situation. All i'm saying is that the record has been played over and over again. We KNOW it's been a contributing factor. What we want to know is where this money has been coming from, if it was yet more loans then what moron lent them the money, that sort of thing.

  • Comment number 75.

    #54 snowjaccuzi:-

    "Whether you other fans like it or not, the fact is that we are the biggest club in Britain, and one of the biggest in Europe. So if potential administration/relegation can happen to the likes of us, then other clubs should be very worried."

    Really - based on what, the past ??

    See its comments like this that turn other fans off your campaign. I have sympathy with any other fan whose team are going to the wall. But seriously mate - the FACT is if you went down it would be a shock to all but after a couple of seasons you'd be like Leeds - just another team that "used" to be something.

    Look through the english league tables and there are countless teams with history who have been in the top flight but are now considered lower league teams, and others who are no considered "big" clubs.

    But mate comments like that to other fans who have on the whole given you some backing on this issue aren't going to win you much support.

  • Comment number 76.

    @68 arsenalforlife

    so you think that Glazier making nearly a billion dollars out of man utd if he sells is a bad business deal, lol.

  • Comment number 77.

    @ Luthers We need committed people for our club if they are walking away then that shows how much commitment they will be offering to the club. To be honest whoever will commit to the club will do it because of financial gain.

    This club has a lot to offer financially and also as a institution. We will not let these hypocrites ruin our club. We are all together in this.
    Good Luck!

  • Comment number 78.

    @gilesmc - cheers, nice to have an e-discussion with someone with opposing views without anyone having to resort to pettiness.

  • Comment number 79.

    When are Liverpool fans going understand that NO-ONE wants to buy them...

    Hicks and Gillett are doing all they can. You have to agree Rafa was the root cause to Liverpools down fall. The amount of money spent was just unreal and the players didnt succeed. Now thats down to Rafa.

    Unfortunatly for Hicks And Gillett they bought at a bad time. The country went into resession. We can see what plans they had with the new stadium but with rafa failing on the field and the resession it has just crippled LFC. The stadium plans are over and Debt has built up. Hicks and Gillett have said they are willing to sell to the right buyer but no-one serious have made an offer.. Hicks and gillett will do everything in there power to keep Liverpool alive but the team is suffering due to lack of talent.

    To be fair it would be better them selling Torres and Riena and sign at least 5 to 6 decent players. Hodgeson to be fair has made some good signings in Cole and Konchesky but theres a long way to go. The most important thing is getting them back into the premiership. You cant blame the owners for that. Rafa had the money over the years and since they amazingly won the euro cup they have dipped rapidly and players signed have been and gone...Now the money isn't availible the owners seem to be a blame.

  • Comment number 80.

    Even as a United fan, I have to say well done for the effort. However, blaming the Americans for Liverpool's dire situation is as always, completely off target! - Remember that former manager that spent £270m on absolute rubbish (Torres excepted)??!!
    That's more money than the club is in debt, money the owners let him have to try and make YOU - the fans who demanded money be available to build the squad and challenge for honours - happy!! Now guess what, the money was wasted, Liverpool are in big trouble, and all of a sudden it's their fault??

    Talk about scape-goats!

  • Comment number 81.

    #75 - DS73

    Well in a nutshell, yes it is based on the past. After all, logic would dictate that you can't base anything on the future as it hasn't happened and you can't base anything on the present because it isn't complete (the current season for example).

    I don't know who you support, but like it or not we ARE a huge club. One of the biggest. Man Utd didn't win the league last season so does that make them a small club? No. They are also a huge club because they have such a rich PAST like us. It's not just history though, it's things like merchandising, global fan base, etc etc.

    In terms of footballing achievements being a factor for size of club, it's always measured on the past. It's impossible for it to be measured on anything else.

    But your comment on comparing us to lower league teams who "used" to be something is precisely why we have this campaign in the first place. We don't want H&G to drag us down to that level.

  • Comment number 82.

    #48fatClyde - are you Boris Johnson's scriptwriter?

  • Comment number 83.

    We organised novel protests at matches for a year in 2001/02 and yet our League place was still stolen just to build a supermarket in MK.

    Withdrawing your money is the only thing that these people will understand.

    FC United of Manchester understood that five years ago and have been proven comprehensively right.

  • Comment number 84.

    #81
    But your comment on comparing us to lower league teams who "used" to be something is precisely why we have this campaign in the first place. We don't want H&G to drag us down to that level.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    So is it about saving your club or meeting your expectations? Plenty would turn away if you did a Leeds Utd? But you'd still have your club and that is the most important thing?

  • Comment number 85.

    #83 - really? FC UoM are languishing in the low realms of non-league football, Manchester United went on to win a European Cup, 3 league titles, 2 Carling Cups, World Club Cup, and expanded their stadium to take more people...... What exactly has been proved??

  • Comment number 86.

    This blog is too important to be polluted by the hackneyed Benitez debate
    A plea to all LFC fans on here - let it slide, do NOT respond and focus on the big picture
    For those non-LFC fans who WANT to understand the seriousness of the situation, as @GilesMC said, start by reading this:
    http://www.anfield-online.co.uk/lfc-news/2010/a-brief-note-on-lfc-debt/

    Then these:
    http://sultanofsnow.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/lfc-finances-debt-and-administration/
    http://fourfourtwo.com/blogs/fourfourtwoview/archive/2010/09/24/could-liverpool-do-a-leeds.aspx

    Then finish with this one which contextualises LFC with MUFC and the rest of the Premier League
    http://www.slate.com/id/2267454/pagenum/all/#p2

    At all times consider the following:
    * Liverpool net debt before G&H was £44.8m
    * It was initially thought that G&H borrowed £185m from RBS and Wachovia to buy LFC but the 2008 accounts revealed a total of £313m was borrowed.
    * It is estimated that the current debt stands at £280m
    * 2008 accounts saw a loss of £41m
    * 2009 accounts saw a loss of £56m
    * For both years KPMG, commented that the short-term loans to the club from Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia “may cast significant doubt on the group’s and parent company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”
    * In the 2 sets of accounts, LFC paid £76m in interest fees and penalties to RBS, simply for the "privilege" of being owned by G&H. £76m that could've been invested in the playing staff, new stadium or training ground.
    * G&H took millions more out of the club in fees and expenses
    * In additon, the 2009 accounts revealed that £46m had been spent on the new staidum (lol). A stadium that was initially estimated in the mid-90s as costing about £60m in total.
    * When G&H had to reduce the total debt to ensure a refinancing, the money they put in from the holding company was a LOAN with a 10% compound interest rate

  • Comment number 87.

    I am not really sure that RBS would care about an empty stadium this season as surely most of the Seats are already paid for by Season Tickets. And come renewal time people will renew............just in case things change.

    This is unfortunately what football has become.

    I think this also highlights just how loyal Abramovich is being at Chelsea. Few said he would stay, but fair dues to the man, he seems to be sticking with it........surely he wants the champions league!

  • Comment number 88.

    @70. At 12:58pm on 29 Sep 2010, MikeW001 wrote

    Jamie #52 - Finally, I agree that previous transfer dealings have had nothing directly to do with the budget being cut. I'm not sure when I suggested otherwise.

    ----
    That would be when you said this:

    I accept that in the last couple of years, investment has dried up. However that blame can be attributed in equal parts to T&G not making further losses, to Rafa's lack of transfer acumen and the the global economic situation.
    ----

    I thought you emant investment in the squad. What did you mean?

    "I can only shake my head at what you're saying regarding the term 'Yank'. The exact same nonsense was trotted out up until a couple of decades ago about other derogatory terms - fortunately now most people are a little more enlightened. It's this underlying sentiment that disturbs me most about this whole saga and if you look back to my first comment is why I felt inclined to post here."

    There's no need to be disturbed. I'm sure the other phrases you are talking about are offensive and the people they were aimed at thought so. I haven't met an american who is as bothered by it as you seem to be.

  • Comment number 89.

    So who do we bombard with email to keep G&H at Liverpool? I was enjoying watching Rafa run them into the ground and so am pleased that this has carried on after he's gone. If the reason for this is G&H then let them stay! Fingers crossed for Liverpool in the Championship next season..

  • Comment number 90.

    @DS73 - I'm not sure what your point is. If any big club went down, they'd be viewed in the same way. We know that... but we'd kind of like to avoid that, if it's OK with you?

    The club (Liverpool Football Club and Athletic Grounds Limited) have be cautious with their money. In 2007, the club owed £40m to the bank, and the trading profit was in excessive £20m and had been for a few years. So we were in a particularly rude state of health.

    The club was sold to new owners who promised one thing then did another. Since 2007, despite profits continuing to rise and despite making net profits in the transfer market (at the expense of the quality of the team), the debt of the owner's parent company means that the club is now effectively making losses. The owners are taking more money out of the club than the club is earning.

    The fans didn't pick these owners - we had no say in the issue (most I know preferred DIC). But we accepted that the previous owner didn't have the finances to fund a new stadium, so we accepted his need to sell.

    However, given the profits we were making, and given that these profits were increasing, it mean the club was attractive to sensible investors. The owners needed to finance the stadium, albeit taking perhaps £10m per year from the club to help pay the interest, and afterwards, the doubling of match-day revenue would have meant that they could have taken more, perhaps £20m per year for dozens of years thereafter, yet still leave the club itself with more funds to invest in the team. With a new stadium and increased revenues the club could have been sold for a huge profit - perhaps even as much at the £1bn that Hicks thinks it is worth now.

    But because these current owners were so greedy, and because they had mis-managed the rest of their businesses, meant that they couldn't even service the debt, let alone pay for a stadium.

    Please explain to me how you think Liverpool fans have contributed to this situation? We *are* still a big club - please explain how our acknowledgement of this means we deserve our fate.

    I think your previous dislike of Liverpool is clouding your judgement in this matter.

  • Comment number 91.

    @68 arsenalforlife

    so you think that Glazier making nearly a billion dollars out of man utd if he sells is a bad business deal, lol.
    ----------

    Mate, It is a good investment if it works out. Extremely risky and might I point out that it was these risks the bankers took when loaning money out to defaulters is what led to the biggest financial crisis we will ever see in our life time.

    Besides, do you honestly think a business man would pay £1 billion for a football club. A Rich Arab born into money might, but a businessman who made money doing business would never spend that much buying a football cub.

    I like to think I am responsible person who would carry out business deals responsibly. If I ever was to do a business, it would be a well formulated plan. I wouldn't buy a business which is hugely overpriced in the first place.

    I think our sense of what is good business will differ, so lets just leave it at that.

  • Comment number 92.

    AFAIK when T&G were first looking to buy a club, they approached "Deadly" Doug Ellis enquiring about the possible aquisition of Aston Villa FC. Doug was not enamoured at the prospect, supposedly down the method of purchase ie leveraged buy-out. As a result these fine gents were turned away and instead Deadly sold AVFC to Randy Lerner, who bought the club with his own CASH, whilst promising to invest in the ground, training facilities and in the brand image (ie Acorns sponsorship).
    I can't help wondering why the previous LFC board/owners were content to allow T&G to buy the club - maybe they cared as little for the club's future as George and Tom seem to?
    As a Villa fan, thank god for Doug (and I never thought I would be saying that!)

  • Comment number 93.

    @80 Nevs_a_red:

    I think you know full well that Rafa spent a mere £90m over 6 years, and actually made a profit in the transfer market since the owners took over.

    But even if he *had* spent £270m and had spent it all since 2007, whose fault would that be? Rafa's? Yes, to an extent it would be. But as financial custodians of the club, the board are legally obliged to behave responsibly and in a way that will protect the interests of the share-holders. If we were to have spent such sums, it would be the boards fault for sanctioning it.

    But of course, it's academic, because it never happened.

  • Comment number 94.

    @ 93. The £90 million is net. He did actually spend in the region of £270 million, I think.

  • Comment number 95.

    @92 phantomlurker

    David Moores has gone on record several times as saying he thoroughly regretted his decision. He believed the American's promises, but failed to get it built into the sale agreement. He was a good owner for us for many years, but in the eyes of many fans, his reign will be defined solely by this decision.

    Randy Lerner appears to be as good as you could expect to get. He's been fairly sensible, and as we've seen with MoN this season, he's refused to go overboard. Not what some AVFC fans want to hear, but at least you have the comfort of knowing the club is better off now than before, and is secure for the foreseeable future.

  • Comment number 96.

    #86 - You can try and ignore the Benitez factor as much as you like but as you quoted:
    * 2008 accounts saw a loss of £41m
    * 2009 accounts saw a loss of £56m
    How much did benitez spend in those seasons? 70/80 million each time? And what was the return?

    Now if the owners had said...you know what, Rafa, we're not giving you that money, the debt would be clearing, and Liverpool would be on a much more stable financial footing, if still in debt at all! But that wouldnt have gone down well at all!

    It seems Liverpool fans want to have all the cake and sweets they could possibly eat, without the nausea that inevitably follows!

    You may not like the methods H&G have used, but I'm afraid to say, that's how business works! Most takeovers are done using loans of some sort, with profit's going towards paying them back. The trouble is, the demand for new players, coupled witht he failure of those players on the pitch, means Liverpool can't now afford to pay back what is owed.

  • Comment number 97.

    @66., Wayne-o wrote:
    What a joke. I don't know who is more delusional, FatRafa, the Liverpool players or the fans. The Yanks brought money to Anfield and invested in players. They gave the gaffer free reign and he squandered it by buying the wrong players and buying players he didn't field and then selling them at a loss. Under Benitez the team got progressively worse each season. When the owners wanted to fire him for his poor performance and for his wasting their investment money fans and players protested. The owner's only mistake was giving in to this pressure - had they fired him earlier, Liverpool might have a winning side now. Rafa squandered millions of dollars of investment in this club. He put them on the financial stretcher by not using the money properly to create a winning side and earn a return on the investment. LFC fans ge a clue - you lot would run this team far worse than the yanks have - rafa would still be in charge if you had your way.

    This entire post is nonsense.

    "The Yanks brought money to Anfield "

    No they did not. They have not invested any money in LFC. I have no idea why you wuld think this is the case.

    "They gave the gaffer free reign"

    rafa only gained full control of transfers when he signed a new contract in abut march 2009. Before then, Rick Parry had final say on transfers.

    "buying players he didn't field and then selling them at a loss"

    Can you give an example? Alonso, Crouch, Bellamy, Sissoko, Mascherano, Arbeloa, Vornin, Degan are all players bought by Rafa and sold at a profit. And that's just off the top of my head.

    "Under Benitez the team got progressively worse each season."

    Only in his final season did we get worse.

    04/05 5th 58 points
    05/06 3rd 82 points
    06/07 3rd 68 points
    07/08 4th 76 points
    08/09 2nd 86 points

    How is the above "getting progressively worse?" 5 years of good progress culminating in our first genuine title race in 20 years. Granted, his final season was a shocker, but on the whole, we had progressed steadily up until then.

    "He put them on the financial stretcher by not using the money properly to create a winning side and earn a return on the investment"

    Complete nonsense. We earned more in evenue from champions league football etc. than we ever did previously. We were regulars in the champions league, getting to the quarter finals and beyond in 4 out of the 6 seasons.

    Our financial problems are solely because of the owneres. They have put the club in debt to the tune of approximately £350 million, with massive interest payments that would not have been there previously.

    Whatever your opinion of Rafa, to try to say that anyone other than the owners are responsible for the financial problems we have... well you're just making yourself look silly.

  • Comment number 98.

    I remember one programme when we played (and beat) Liverpool at Selhurst Park in the early 90s.

    Every Liverpool player had cost at least £1m according to their listed profiles. I was impressed, until I saw how poor they were on the pitch when compared with our wonderful committed unlovely urchins.

    Money has ruined football, especially at the highest level, and it should not be forgotten that Liverpool happily played their part in first getting more money out of ITV and then creating the Premiership in 1992.

    Who was the first English team to have sponsorship on their shirts too?...

  • Comment number 99.

    #81 & 90 snowjaccuzi and cjm......

    I'm not arguing with you about the state of your club, I genuinely feel for you. It’s a terrible feeling to feel helpless watching the demise of your club.

    I was pointing out that you had gained some support from other clubs fans but statements like we are the biggest club - FACT just turns people off.

    Your clubs situation proves history means nothing, status means nothing if the finances dictate you are going under then you might just go that way. And no fan outside of your club will care after a couple of months -today’s paper is tomorrows chip wrapper etc. And then will you be able to say we're the biggest team in Britain - NO you wont.

    You will be a "used to be" Perhaps if you can get people on side now it may create a situation where clubs fans come together and get behind each other when these "foreign" businessmen see a quick buck in our game and stand up to it. But for as long as there is an elitist angle to why you should not go to the wall then sorry but all you'll get is negativity.

  • Comment number 100.

    @94

    Of course the £90m is net. If you want to improve the team, you can't always afford the A-list players you would like. So you buy a c-list player for £2m. You sell him a year later for £3m and invest some more money to buy a £5m B-list player. A year on, you hope to sell for £8m and buy an A-list player for £12m. That means you have an A-list player on your books, but have you effective spent £19m or £8m over 2 years to get there?

    A lot of people believe the Robbie Keane sale was symptomatic of Rafa's wastefulness - while not his brightest moment, the fact remains that most of Benitez' purchases gained value. He had to wheel-and-deal because we couldn't just go and buy A-listers like Chelsea and ManU, and overall he was quite effective. It just doesn't suit some fans to believe, despite what the facts say.

 

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