Great peice from John Nic
Yanks Dishonour Legacy Of Shankly...
Posted 19/10/09 12:25EmailPrintSave
I feel really sorry for Liverpool. They're in a right old mess.
Liverpool FC is one of the world's greatest, most renowned sporting institutions and it is being run, quite disgracefully, to the verge of bankruptcy. This is a club that generated £159million of revenue last year but, according to news reports at the weekend, still had to assure the Premier League it was financially viable after KPMG's audit concluded it was concerned about its 'ability to continue as a growing concern'.
It managed to resist a £70million bid from Manchester City for Fernando Torres but only just. Next summer it will be the same situation again.
The pressure is really on. If the club doesn't make good progress in the Champions League or finishes outside the top four in the league, there is a real chance of Liverpool going into administration. They're fighting on the pitch not for mere success but for their very existence.
Tom Hicks and George Gillett are killing the club. Disgraceful.
Many like to laugh at the Scousers, the online paranoia and sensitivity of a few of their fans are legendary and, yes, they've had their fair share of hooliganism issues over the years - but the club and its followers don't deserve to be judged on its more extreme or daft elements any more than any other club.
I was privileged to be at Anfield on some of their legendary European nights in the late 70s and early 80s. They were the stuff of epic, skin-prickling legend; warm, happy, uplifting celebrations of football.
I treasure those nights seeing David Fairclough flying down the wing like liquid flame as Liverpool kicked into the Kop and simply would not be denied.
Until the blogosphere came along I never experienced anything to contradict the oft-spouted notion that many traditional Liverpool fans are amongst the more knowledgeable observers of football as well as some of the more passionate flame-carriers for the best traditions of the game. Their persistent boycotting of The Sun remains noble.
This entire heritage is being abused and we should all care. If asset-stripping, profit-hungry monsters like Hicks and Gillett are not stopped, one day they might come for your club, rip it off, feck it up and leave it bereft.
If ever a club was less suited to be an asset for capitalist greed-pigs to trade for profit, it was Liverpool.
If ever a club reflected what made football the biggest sport in the country, it was Liverpool with its ground set in the bosom of the labouring working class being led by a man-of-the-people idealist in Bill Shankly.
Shankly was an inspiring man, perfectly suited to the Mersey mindset. My mate Mikey, when presented with any problem in life still asks himself, what would Shankly do?
The procession of managers from Shanks to Paisley, Fagan and Dalglish was a litany of earthy, no-nonsense brilliance who achieved so much. That late 80s team was football brilliance made extant.
The current owners dishonour the legacy of those fine men and those who played under them.
For decades, Liverpool FC was the beating red heart of the football body politic. But what has happened to this noble club?
It is lumbered with debt, it is owned by these ridiculous, stupid men who care and know nothing about football, who care and know nothing of their 'asset', and who seem to dislike each other as much as they dislike football. Like a silly, squabbling married couple, one of them wants to sell his share but can't do so unless the other idiot agrees to it.
They haul themselves around rich Saudi Princes offering the club like a 20 dollar whore, each of them with a different, doubtless hapless idea about how to take the club forward.
RBS only failed to call in the £300m debt this summer for fear of a public backlash that the largely publicly-owned bank was going to crush one of the world's great football clubs.
Hicks and Gillett appear not to have spent much or any of their own money buying the club. Instead they have leveraged borrowing against the asset that they only acquired with the money they borrowed. It makes no sense and ironically, is said to be an illegal practice in America.
Liverpool FC is now a slave to their debt, condemned to forever graft to pay off the interest on the loan. It would seem that these jokers have ownership of the asset to sell for a personal profit but the club has ownership of the debt. The Gruesome Twosome lose nothing if Liverpool fail.
Anfield is through the looking glass. Logic and proportion has fallen sloppy dead and the white knight is talking backwards.
Rafa Benitez is hamstrung by the persistently shambolic behaviour of the owners. Their mismanagement and machinations have infected the whole club.
It looks from the outside that from one transfer window to another he hasn't a clue what resources will be available to him. It's no wonder mistakes are made in that kind of short-term environment.
And the whole time, he and the squad know that if they are not successful, Hicks and Gillett won't be able to service the debt and the club will go into administration, will have to sell Torres and Gerrard, suffer a ten-point deduction and disqualification from any European competition. That is huge pressure, pressure that may now have got too much for all to bear this season.
The new stadium is on hold until God knows when, further stalling progress. Every week there's talk of someone buying half or the entire club off one or both of the current fools, but nothing ever comes to fruition and the feeling that this is all just wind and pish grows stronger.
It's a testament to Benitez' good faith, bloody-mindedness, strength of purpose and belief in the club's potential and fans that he's stayed as long as he has and done as well as he has. He's had plenty of reasons to walk away before now.
Even if the Saudi Prince buys out the club in its entirety, fans would be right to be cynical of both his commitment and intention until he prove, not just financially astute but football astute; in harmony with the traditions, culture and passions of the club and its fans.
Football is an irrational game and its culture is driven by unfathomable emotion and ritual. It is emphatically not a faceless corporate asset to be traded amongst billionaire bozos. It is, in every sense, a game by and of the people.
In one sense, Liverpool are ahead of the curve, their situation will not be untypical as more similarly bilious billionaires buy and sell clubs for ego, profit or entertainment. Perhaps it is therefore down to Liverpool to try and resolve these problems innovatively and blaze a new trail.
The Rogan Taylor-led fan buy-out seems to have stalled, which is a shame. If ever a club was suited to be owned and run by the people it is Liverpool with its history of collectivised labour. We certainly need new, fresh ideas on how clubs can be owned, funded and run.
Maybe we should all ask, like Mikey, what would Shankly do? His words might provide a clue.
"The socialism I believe in is not really politics. It is a way of living. It is humanity. I believe the only way to live and to be truly successful is by collective effort, with everyone working for each other, everyone helping each other, and everyone having a share of the rewards at the end of the day."
Shanks wasn't wrong about much.