Good news then… finally! With the appointment of Martin Broughton as the club’s new chairman comes the additional golden nugget that the club is up for sale. We’re not looking for investors anymore, we want someone to buy the club – lock, stock and two smoking seats. Yes, with some guff from the outgoing owners about their three year tenure being “a rewarding and exciting experience” we finally have a future. Hopefully.


I guess the key proviso, a hesitation to start celebrating, is going to be around the valuation attached to the club. Hicks and Gillett will still want to realise a profit after saddling the club with £237m of debt (and they had invested some of their own money), so anywhere upwards of £500m would be my guess. In the meantime if funding has been secured for the short to medium term future of the club I guess any urgency dissipates. Maybe I’m just on a ‘glass half empty’ day, or maybe the last year of blogging about the club has made me ultra suspicious but I just have a sense that we haven’t seen the last twist or turn in this saga.

My other concern is the seemingly bulletproof qualities Christian Purslow appears to have been awarded by some fans and the upper echolons of Anfield. Don’t get me wrong he obviously has talent but too many things are going unnoticed for my liking. [You will note from my earlier postings that not many people will have spoken higher of Mr. Purslow than me until recently.]

We’re told of the significant improvement he and his team have made. While they are significant (revenues up 55% and operating profits up 60%) they need to be taken into context and not be used as a way of deflecting weaknesses. For example a 55% increase in revenues sounds great but is not really out of the ordinary. In the same period Aston Villa achieved a 60% increase and Manchester City 53%. It’s accepted they started from a lower point but then consider the other ‘top 4’ from a higher starting figure who achieved a 46% (Chelsea), 44% (Arsenal) and 35% (Manchester United) increase. Only Tottenham seem to buck the trend posting only a 12% increase. So all in all we’re running at what could be termed the ‘industry standard’ despite owning a much stronger ‘brand’ than all but (arguably) Manchester United.

Yes we made more profits before player trading and exceptional costs, but also before interest payments for Kop Holdings. Arsenal meanwhile chalked up £94m of pre-tax profits in the last two years. Puts our £10m in a single year (we lost £20m the year before) into some kind on context doesn’t it? Meanwhile, before you shout about Arsenal’s new stadium, Tottenham may not have increased revenues but have retained a profit in each of the last five years (last year’s pre-tax profit was just shy of £30m). Now no doubt ‘arry will take care of them (as he did at Southampton and Portsmouth – he should attend more ‘spendaholic’ meetings) but be in no doubt, while our results are improving we are just keeping track in relation to revenues and are probably at best 4th place from a profiting perspective. We’re ‘middle of the road’ people.

But that ‘middle of the road’ performance is enough to mask some seriously worrying traits. Lest we should forget that he was appointed to bring in investment. Does the appointment of Martin Broughton mean he has failed? Now don’t get me wrong it was a difficult job, with a club’s owners at war with each other and its fans, but on the odd occasion he did communicate with us – ‘investment was on its way’… and still is… oh! Then there is the diabolical handling of the Spirit of Shankly minutes. Surely a rookie error by a seasoned pro?

I also had to crunch my way through the data collected for my case study of Liverpool Football Club recently. The full results will be released shortly but one of the key findings is this – fans rate being respectful to the club’s traditions, funding on the pitch success, finances / debts and communicating with fans in descending priority order. The vast majority of fans who responded said the club was performing badly or very badly in all four of those areas! Yes there has been success with sponsorship deals, which was reflected in the research, but in general fans are not happy with the way the club is being run.

Like I say it really could just be a ‘glass half empty’ day, but although we have moved a step closer to the end of the Hicks and Gillett era I am yet to be convinced our off pitch turmoil is anywhere near resolution.

  1. Peter A says:

    Hi Taf,

    Great post and I read your article on TTT which was quality. Keep up the good work.

    I think with the valuation of the club set at an unreasonably high 500m (some reports suggest as high as 600m and Barclays Capital say EURO 750m) it will be a long six months of searching for new buyers and negotiations to bring down the sale price. From a team perspective it is in our best interests for the sale to be quick and painless and in place before the start of the transfer window with funds made available to the manager for strengthening.

    I appreciate what the new management team has done with the new sponsorship for the club but in reality I believe that it is nothing more than anyone else would’ve achieved. LFC is one of the most marketable brands in world football and it was criminally undersold by Parry/Moores. Any new owner/CEO would’ve automatically identified the problem and taken steps to rectify it.

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