What will Henry and Werner be asked by Liverpool fans?

In what must be an unprecedented move by any English football club Liverpool Football Club are today planning to offer fans the opportunity to grill the club’s owners live on TV.

John W Henry and Tom Werner, joint owners through FSG (or NESV as it used to be called), will sit alongside commercial director Ian Ayre for the official channel’s two-hour show “LFC Now” from 5pm. Supporters can get their questions over by email, Twitter, Facebook or phone.

There are obvious questions that supporters will want to ask, and despite suspicions from some supporters about possible censorship and vetting of questions it’s expected that this would be kept to a minimum by the producers of the show. Understandably there will be some questions that can’t be answered on air and there will be others that might well result in a diplomatic rather than openly honest answer, but other than that, and as long as the question doesn’t effectively repeat earlier questions, it should be possible for any point to be put to the new owners.

Anfield Road asked on Twitter for supporters to list the kinds of question they might ask if they got through tonight.
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Reds face bigger threat than today’s old enemies

Liverpool are in a transitional period, new manager Roy Hodgson needs to be given more time to settle into the job, players were late back from the World Cup and either aren’t fully fit are haven’t been to enough training sessions for Roy to really know them yet.

They are just some of the reasons put forward to try and explain an awful start to Liverpool’s league season; those reasons are rapidly becoming excuses.

When the manager himself uses them it seems all the more worrying, but that is how Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson spoke after today’s 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford against one the club’s old enemies. Dimitar Berbatov’s hat-trick meant Steven Gerrard’s brace counted for nothing, although it at least kept the club’s goal-difference at ‘just’ -3 from the opening five games.

Hodgson said: “We are certainly in a transitional period. I don’t think it needs to be negative; sometimes they can be very good for a club. Certainly the task has been complicated by the fact I didn’t get a chance to work with the players because of the World Cup and with the Europa qualifiers starting so early, we were thrown into the deep end of competitive football.”

He also spoke of what was to come, what the targets were: “Our aim is to get better. Our aim is still to try and get to the Champions League, maybe that’s where I need to have my focus. If we are good enough to get into the top four, who knows, maybe we can get closer to the number one position. I won’t say we can’t do it, nor will I say we can do it.”

In reality nobody expects a title challenge from Liverpool this season. This season there is an air that survival is the target. Not league survival, but survival as a team that might one day be able to challenge for the title again. Survival in the sense of not letting the gap between this club and Chelsea grow any wider than it already is. Hodgson will be well aware of this.
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Stadium decision in two weeks

After rushing into revealing plans for a new stadium that later turned out to be too expensive, it seems the club’s current owners are being a little more cautious with their decision over which of the latest plans to go with.

After taking over the club early in 2007, co-owner Tom Hicks criticised the stadium design that had been produced prior to his arrival. In July he revealed new and astounding plans for a very unique stadium. The club were given planning permission for this version, but the rush to show the plans off meant that no accurate costings had been carried out. When they were, the stadium was more expensive than expected, and the owners weren’t able to get finance for it on the terms they wanted. Eventually Rick Parry admitted that those plans were being thrown out, and that two companies – HKS and AFL – would be submitting new plans for a ‘downgraded’ stadium.

Those plans were presented to the owners and Parry in New York yesterday. It had been expected that a decision would be made by the end of the week, but according to a Hicks spokesperson that’s not the case.

The spokesman said: “We made excellent progress on the choice of stadium design and hope to have a final decision in the next two weeks.”

With the stadium already delayed by some years another couple of weeks will make little difference. The new plans will require new planning permission, and given that it sees an increase in the initial capacity of the stadium that may not be a clear-cut process. The plans approved last year had an initial capacity of just over 60,000, with flexibility to increase that to somewhere in the region of 78,000. The capacity on the earlier plans was set to 60,000 because of worries that the local infrastructure could not cope with anything more than that number of visitors on a match day, a situation that the owners planned to help improve before the stadium opened.

Chief Executive Rick Parry was impressed at both sets of plans, but said that the board now need time to reflect on what they were shown: “It was a very full day. We had two very detailed and very informative presentations which were very thorough and extremely professional. It has been another big step forward to finding the best possible solution and the whole meeting was very constructive. Everyone is reflecting on what they have heard and a clear decision will be taken soon.”

Parry suggested that there was no clear-cut winner from the two sets of plans: “They were both very good in terms of coming closer to the right solution. As ever, when you have a competition you hope it produces outstanding results and I think that is what we have seen today. Whichever we do go with it will be an excellent result.”

The reason that Liverpool had been looking for investors was to enable a new stadium to be built, and so increase revenues from home games. Anfield holds 45,000 supporters, which is much lower than competing clubs in the top flight. The new owners also felt that executive facilities were not good enough, and hoped to increase revenue in that area too. The new stadium will be built on Stanley Park, as part of a much-needed regeneration plan for the area.