Reports locally suggest that there could be yet another possibility of rescue for Liverpool FC from the hands of the promise-breaking duo who currently own the club, with the announcement of a continental-style supporters group ready to buy out the club believed to be imminent.
Tom Hicks and George Gillett have shown in recent months that their intentions for the future of the club don’t even come close to matching those of the supporters, and with the Dubai International Capital Group seemingly waiting in the wings, Liverpool fans are hoping that Hicks and Gillett sell up and leave our club alone as soon as possible. Earlier today came a story that Robert Kraft had not yet ruled out a bid for the club, although he sounded far from convinced that he would be able to provide the financial help required to see Liverpool get back to being in league-winning contention.
Then this afternoon came the reports of the latest possibility of a way out of the Tom-and-George nightmare. BBC Radio Merseyside’s Roger Summerskill reported on the possible new direction for the future of the club on bulletins throughout the day on the station. He said: “I understand this new group – based locally and including lifelong Liverpool fans – is planning an operation which would involve buying the club and building the new stadium. I anticipate a statement to that effect sooner rather than later.”
Also today came a report on the Liverpool Echo’s website. It spoke also of a new group looking to buy the owners out, adding: “It is understood the group comprises high-profile LFC fans, legal experts and people in senior public positions. They are believed to be proposing a Continental-style model where fans own a huge stake in major clubs.”
The report also said that the paper, “understands the group plans to raise £500m to buy the club AND finance a new stadium.”
Details are of course still to be revealed, and unless there are some relatively wealthy Liverpool fans willing to back it then the scheme could struggle to get off the ground. Liverpool do have a number of wealthy fans, none of whom would have been able to take the club over alone, but as a group would be able to take the club out of the hands of the strangers currently trying to kill it. But it wouldn’t just be the celebrities and it wouldn’t just be the wealthy Reds – the way similar schemes work on the continent allows all fans to buy a piece of the club, and in turn get a say in how the club’s future maps out.
At this stage there are as many questions as answers as to how this scheme would work, but it does seem likely that it would at the very least reduce the interest burden on the club if it went ahead. Every Liverpool supporter putting money in would be expected to fund that investment themselves, either by smashing their piggy bank, selling their car or taking out a loan of their own. Any debt that the supporters went into would never be put back onto the club. The only profit a supporter putting any money in could expect would be if the value of their share had risen at a future date when they came to sell it.
The investment would not cost money every year in interest payments. The investors would not expect an annual payment as thanks for their investment.
This doesn’t mean that the club itself wouldn’t go into debt, or even get completely out of debt from the day it’s taken over, but any debt would be there with the intention of helping the long-term future of the club. £245m of the current debt, at least, is there purely to fund the pensions of the two Americans.
One big question is how £500m would be enough to buy out two owners who want to make a profit and build a stadium. The owners need £245m to pay their loan off, the new stadium is expected to cost £300m. £500m doesn’t even cover those two items, let alone give the owners the profit they came to Liverpool to get.
The group are clearly getting ready to show their hand, no doubt leaking these sketchy details now to gauge fan opinion. On the face of it, this sound a far better option for the club’s future than anything else that can be imagined right now. It also sounds too good to be true. We await the details.
Right up until the day comes that we are told a takeover has been successful and this double-act have been removed from our club it’s important we do all we can as supporters to at least try and drive them out. The meeting of representatives from fanzines, websites and supporters’ groups scheduled for tomorrow night at The Sandon has now been extended and the invitation to attend is open to all. The topic under discussion is obvious – how can Liverpool supporters help rid the club of what look like parasites planning to suck it dry? Ideas are welcome on boycotts (including how wide-ranging they should be), disruption to their other business interests, protests and anything else that might go towards seeing them off. If you want to be part of the discussions, the meeting is scheduled to start at 7.30pm.