Supporters of Liverpool FC have spent as much time thinking about problems off the field as they have about anything happening on it in recent years. Even now, with the club stuck in the relegation zone, off-field events have found their way of eclipsing the on-field embarrassment.
There isn’t a single Reds fan who doesn’t want the nearly four years of ownership by Tom Hicks and George Gillett to come to an end. If there is they are keeping it quiet. And no wonder, it’s never a good idea to admit such insane thoughts.
But now, with the club on the verge of being sold to new owners, it isn’t a turn of events that is being universally greeted with excitement. For every fan saying it couldn’t possibly be any worse there is another who says this deal may still be some way short of what the club needs. For every fan delighted there is a fan in fear of what this next stage in the club’s life might lead to.
Martin Broughton lowered the demands he originally laid out for a new owner, specifically on the requirement that they agree to fund the new stadium. That might well be a change made for good reasons – but it could also be a massive compromise. And if it is a compromise, how many more were made?
Broughton and the club have built this deal up like it’s the best deal we ever could have asked for. The hype from the club this summer about a couple of Bosman signings and some early Europa Cup wins is perhaps worth remembering when listening to those descriptions.
At the same time the club hasn’t exactly been asking investors to form a queue. A so-called auction seems to have ended with two bids for the absolute bare minimum price – the price RBS demanded to pay off their debt.
So, is it time to be more resistant than ever about the decisions being made by the club’s board (assuming it still legally is the club’s board and isn’t ousted by actions of Tom Hicks about to be challenged in court)? Is it time to put all the worries to one side and open the door to these new owners?
If anything, going off past experience, it is probably best to be reserved, open-minded and vigilant, asking question after question until we have the answers we need to make a decision.
Meanwhile the Sunday Mirror got in touch with the Football Supporters’ Federation about a feature that will be in their paper this weekend. It’s a double-page spread on the current ownership issues and it will include an interview with James McKenna, spokesperson for Spirit of Shankly, a voice of the fans who has been heard regularly in the media, especially of late, trying to get the fans’ – and specifically SOS members’ – views across. Jim White of Sky will probably remember him for a long time to come.
Also to be featured in that article will be a supporters’ survey. FSF are asking fans to complete this survey in time for it to feature in Sunday’s paper.
To make your views known go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FSFLiverpool
Garreth Cummins of the FSF said: “As FSF members and Liverpool supporters we’d appreciate your views (which are anonymous), and it’ll take you no more than a minute to answer the four very simple questions.”
* The Football Supporters’ Federation is free to join and is the national supporters’ organisation representing more than 180,000 fans. The FSF campaigns on all sorts of issues, from safe standing and ticket pricing to policing and making sure supporters get a long overdue voice at football’s top tables.
Please take the time to do the survey.