The Liverpool Way is dead… Long Live the Liverpool Way

Posted: May 31, 2010 by mcdonaldtaf in Business, Finance, Liverpool FC
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Let’s get realistic about things shall we?

  • The Premier League or FA aren’t going to save our club
  • Christian Purslow isn’t going to save our club
  • Martin Broughton certainly isn’t going to save our club (although he may take some ‘keepsakes’ with him when he returns to Chelsea)

I’ve been reading David Conn’s excellent ‘Searching for the Soul of Football’ and one thing becomes abundantly clear. Those in the ivory towers are very rarely a club’s saviour. Nine times out of ten it comes down to us, the fans. It truly is shocking when you read the book how many clubs have been ‘shafted’ by those who rode in to save the day. I strongly recommend that, if you haven’t, you get hold of a copy. It’s an education.

Hicks and Gillett bought our club with loaned money, secured against the club. This in itself (to me) was not their failing. Their failing has been in their numerous public errors and, more importantly, not then supporting the club financially by allowing the interest payments to roll up into more and more debt. Borrowing against the club should have been matched with the owners’ commitment. If they are truly unable to commit they should sell the club at a reasonable price, where they don’t lose money but making it is not the first priority either.

Christian Purslow seemed to bring some structure and commercial acumen to Anfield. I recall speaking very highly of him while others were cautious. That was before he went bumbling into an SOS meeting like some junior manager at his first meeting. Since then he has proven himself to be more spin than substance!

Then came Martin Broughton on a day of much relief for Liverpool fans, as the club was finally put up for sale. I remember saying to @robbbohuyton (editor of Well Red Magazine) that I had a nagging doubt we were seeing a smokescreen. Were we up for sale with an unrealistic valuation while the owners tried to blend into the background? Maybe the club has made me paranoid but something still doesn’t sit right with me about our club being up for sale. However Martin was to be given his chance. Here was a man who was chairman of British Airways no less. Yet another disappointment was looming though. As of last night he appears to have joined Christian Purslow in the ‘bumbling idiot’ category. Having attended a Chelsea FC function he is reported to have privately suggested the mess at Anfield will take three years to fix. Then to add insult to injury intimated that Fernando Torres should be questioning whether the club is right for him.

As a senior manager myself, albeit in a much smaller organisation, there is one thing I know for certain. Whenever there is a sensitive area of the business, as a manager I become paranoid about saying or doing the wrong thing. It consumes me at meetings and I often find myself carefully picking my words. Surely this is one of the hallmarks of a good manager – knowing when, where and to whom you say the appropriate thing? So with that in mind:

– how and why did Christian Purslow think it appropriate to vent his frustrations at a meeting with the people trying to rid the club of its owners?
– how and why did Martin Broughton think the right time and place to say the club was in a mess was at a Chelsea function to a news reporter?

It really defies belief. Doesn’t it? I said not long ago that ‘the Liverpool way’ within the club was dying. My first thought when I read Broughton’s recent ‘mistake’? It’s dead within the club, none of them care about it. Somehow, we from outside must keep it alive and ready to hand back to new custodians who do care about the club and are happy to re-implement the ways of old.

So in short don’t expect anyone at the club to be our saviour. History, even up to last night, should have taught us that.

So what can we do? Well I’m afraid we’re going to have to be realistic about things. We’re going to have to take some collateral damage as we hit the owners where it hurts. They don’t understand anything else, other than money. We can write open letters, have marches and demonstrate but until the owners realise that we are going to hit their revenues they won’t budge. If we can all come together I personally think it’s time for a four step plan:

1. An open letter to the club, its sponsors and banks explaining why we are about to take the steps we are, with fixed dates for direct action – until the club is sold. The letter should come from Spirit of Shankly but be undersigned by every influential individual, blogger, journalist or website owner. They may think they can spin their way out of trouble but we can get a message out there just as quickly – through a network of social networks, websites and blogs. The club should be given a suitable amount of time to respond.

2. Immediately launch a campaign, through websites and blogs, to boycott merchandise sales until the club is sold to a suitable custodian. I was struck this morning by just how many people said they had already stopped buying club merchandise. This backs up my recent research (which I will be releasing soon).

3. If the club is not sold by ‘x’ date we will, in our thousands, arrange mass demonstrations at RBS branches. RBS are as accountable as anyone else. They alone can take the required action.

4. If the club is then not sold by ‘x’ date we will, in our thousands, arrange mass demonstrations at our sponsors’ places of business and RBS branches.

Realistically RBS and our sponsors can pile more pressure onto our club than any of us. So let’s vent our frustration at those who can really apply pressure to the club’s hierarchy. Then at the games we do what we do best, give the team our 110% backing and roar them on through these turbulent times. What’s off the pitch should stay off the pitch, otherwise next season may sadly be like this. I’m sure we can bring more pressure to bear from outside of the ground.

I have been one of the more patient fans through Hicks and Gillett’s era; but today it snapped. I sensed that it snapped with a lot of people over the last few hours. The time for direct action is now upon us. Be in no doubt that there will be collateral damage to the club. However, without it I sense we could be stuck in this situation for a long time to come. They are relying on us not taking these steps for fear of causing collateral damage. But it is becoming clear that a lack of direct action will cause even more damage while the club is run and owned by bumbling idiots!

They’ve killed it from within the club, but we will keep it alive – ready to hand back to the right custodians – The Liverpool Way is Dead, Long Live The Liverpool Way.

Update 22.23: The news reporter involved has denied Martin Broughton said what he’s reported to have said. Does three years to rectify the mess made by H&G sound right? No smoke without fire? Media ploy to unsettle Torres? I just don’t know.

  1. Eddie says:

    Great read, but rather depressing and unsuprisingly so… It snapped on me too this weekend that things weren’t gonna get any better any time soon and did the only thing an OOT (way out in kenya) could do, joined the spirit of shankly. YNWA!!

  2. Revo says:

    Brilliant as ever Taf

  3. @menofshanks says:

    I share your frustration and totally agree with your point about having to intervene directly in the absence of competent leadership at the club, but the steps you’ve listed out are unfortunately impractical and a bit counter-intuitive.

    I get that setting a “date x” deadline for the club to be sold gives us a rallying point but it also makes the key aim less likely to happen as potential buyers will use the situation to drive down the purchase price below a level that the current owners will accept. It’s frustrating but this isn’t a way we can impose our will on the owners.

    Your other point about merchandise feeds the same problem, in that cutting off a major revenue stream affects the profitability of the club and makes it in turn a less saleable asset (same goes for tickets/attendance).

    The idea of pushing via RBS is difficult for me too. Obviously the bank us owed their money and they want it back but they make their money through the interest rates attached to their loans.The owners’ inability to make payments on current terms allows RBS to apply more charges and draw more return over time, ergo they are not in as big a hurry as you or I would be to clear the balance.

    It’s tough to take but in my opinion the cleanest way out if this situation is to make the club as attractive a proposition as possible to potential buyers, and doing that is going to be hard because it means trying to make the debt smaller at the same time as making the team better – a misnoma in the eyes of most supporters.

    We need to over-achieve with what we have, just as we did to build the club in the first place. That’s always the aim for me, regardless of who owns us.

    • mcdonaldtaf says:

      I think the question for me is: when is enough, enough?

      I understand what you are saying and it would represent my own thoughts from not that long ago. The problem, for me, is the clowns from within appear to be causing more damage than any of us. The soap opera needs to end and we need stability quickly. That will not be forthcoming with a £600m valuation and Hicks being adamant he is in no rush to sell. Realistically I don’t see us selling the club this forthcoming season and, as I suggest, I think H&G would be quite happy with that.

      So what choices are we left with? For me we need to take the opposite route and put pressure on H&G to sell at break-even before they end up losing money on the deal. I just want to concentrate on what happens on the pitch without the soap opera. For that to happen the club needs handing over as quickly as possible. If we have a club which gets back to its roots playing Europa football for a few seasons while we re-build I’ll live with that.

      Believe me when I say though that I can see where you’re coming from. However, there is a head of pressure building within the fan base which has just genuinely had enough.

  4. ferryman says:

    Well WE won´t, that´s for sure. YNWA

  5. Alonso says:

    Hi, I’m a fan from Perú in South America. Sad reality. However I share the thought that we need to hit the owners in ther bank accounts. I would totally support you.

  6. AdamP29 says:

    Very interesting article and I am strengthened by your resolve and positive attitude. I’ve written a response here if you’re interested:

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