Thursday, October 7, 2010

The 2nd battle of (Spion) Kop

Given the remarkable events surrounding Liverpool football club this week I thought it pertinent to dust off the old blog, the 140 characters of twitter are struggling to do this justice.

The fight for the ownership of Liverpool appears to be drawing to a close yet the saga is far from over. This has been a crazy week which has seen the media both new and old become the weapon of choice. The following is a list of issues (in no particular order) which I believe have been overlooked, ignored or under analysed:

1. Mike Jefferries or @mikejefferiesL4 he is the creator of the Dear Mr Hicks video which has become a huge overnight success as was its intention, over 350,000 views on youtube yet he only has 3500 followers on twitter. He has been very vocal in urging caution on the sale to New England Sports Ventures or NESV "Anyone who believes Broughton & Purslow's claims that the club's been sold to NESV is being very naive. It's all SPIN & Hicks WILL litigate!"

2. The curious case of Martin Broughton. An evil man by all accounts he was once chairman of British American Tobacco a company famous for doing business with the Burmese junta and for marketing cigarettes towards African children. His appointment as chairman at Anfield was to oversee the sale of Liverpool football club, if this is achieved he receives a £500,000 bonus payment. Given the current deadline imposed by RBS for the repayment or refinancing of the debt owed to them being yesterday though 15th of October being the end of the contracted grace period, if he wanted his big juicy bonus he had to get his arse in gear. Were RBS to call in the debt, they would then be able to appoint administrators to oversee the sale, Broughton would be out of work and out of bonus :( His attempts to block refinancing were also self interested as again no bonus.

3. What ever you think of Hicks and Gillett this sale is massively undervaluing the football club, Forbes valued the club at $822M only in April this year. The actions of Martin Broughton are seeming to be far more desperate than those of Hicks (though he is still pretty desperate) The media stories regarding the club over the last month are all attributable to Broughton. His assertions of his authority are unrealistic given that the club is yet to fall in into the hands of RBS. This isn't like the situation at Rangers where the bank had been able to assume authority and dictate the business actions of the club.

4. Proposed board member Lori McCutcheon is on twitter @LoriKMac though she doesn't do much except follow a remarkably pro Hicks Journo @dkaplanSBJ Its just like the cultural revolution.

5. John Henry by all account has done a great job at the Boston Red Sox, though he appears to buy and sell sports teams like cars so don't expect him to hang around for more than 5 years. He will probably buy Manchester United next. He is however in it for the money, he is not a supporter he wants to make cash, so expect naming rights if Liverpool get a new stadium or as is more likely Anfield is refurbished. Also expect ticket prices to rise.

6. The Florida Marlins the team where John Henry did a Hicks and Gillett, he reneged on a promise to build a new stadium and pretty much left them for dead when their form dived.

7. Kenny Dalglish is eyeing up the managers job, @pauldalglish Paul Dalglish his son has been waxing lyrical about the lovely new owners on twitter. He would of course as he knows them pretty well. John Henry is a Florida based business man, Paul Dalglish is a Florida based (former he just got sacked) football manager. Coincidence I think not.

8. Liverpool have a long history with Rupert Murdoch, and its about to get even longer. Quite rightly the Sun is not taken on merseyside after disgusting accusations it made following the Hillsbrough tragedy. Fans will want to know that NESV is 17% owned by the New York Times Company. Rupert Murdoch is at War with the New York Times according to Vanity Fair last month. So expect Sky Sports to start showing Liverpool games in black & white rather than 3D & watch out for match reports in the Times and Sun where no player gets higher than a 5/10 even though they have just beaten Chelsea 3-0. It is possible to construe Harry Redknapp's defence of Hicks and Gillett in today's Sun as being within this vein. Its very unlikely Arry' will actually write his column, it will be a regurgitated phone conversation with the journalist framing the topic for discussion. ie. today he was likely asked something like what did H&G do wrong given they forked out for Torres etc.

9. Neither John Henry or NYT are cash rich its all asset based wealth. There will be debt involved in this takeover. Just because its not held on Liverpool now doesn't mean it can't be moved there in the future. Remember both the previous takeover of Liverpool & the takeover of Manchester United didn't begin with debt, that came later when it was prudent to do so. This will become a leveraged buyout, its a question of if not when.

10. Expect Liverpool to start buying players on football manager form. John Henry or Hicks lite as I'm sure we will end up calling him, made his money by creating a mechanical way of trading futures removing the human element. As with all Americans who have studied economics he is an uber rational choice theory kind of guy. What he probably is yet to realise is that Liverpool football club is not a business, it is all emotion more than most football clubs, that's why there hasn't been a boycott of the clubs games, that is why managers are usually given several years rather than several months to make an impact. Liverpool needs to be run from the heart not the wallet.

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