Gerrard: Yes, I’ll be at Liverpool next season.

Gerrard, on England duty for the World CupLiverpool fans have enough problems trying to decipher the truth from the never-ending speculation and off-the-record whispering that fills the back pages on a regular basis. Hints are made, but those doing the hinting haven’t the courage to put their names to their suggestions about their enemies. Or perhaps in some cases their contracts prevent them from just coming out with it.

That’s why it’s always good to see some actual quotes. Obviously it doesn’t mean the speaker is being honest but at least we know what the speaker really said.

Except, it seems, when it’s the BBC reporting the quotes. Only they can say why they missed out a vital couple of answers from their exclusive interview with Steven Gerrard, on duty with England but finding himself being asked about his Liverpool future. Continue reading Gerrard: Yes, I’ll be at Liverpool next season.

South African Wave

You’ll have to be quick, but for a chance to win a trip to this summer’s World Cup Finals tournament all you need to do is wave to your webcam for a few seconds.

Sony Ericsson have launched the “South African Wave” and if it replaces the distracting “Mexican Wave” we see at far too many international games these days then I for one am all for it. They hope to create “the longest online stadium wave on record”.

In Sony Ericsson’s own words: “The South African Wave, which will run until the end of the World Cup on the 11th July, asks football fans to submit their own recreation of the wave that became famous at the Mexico World Cup in 1986. All fans need to do is head to, upload their video or film it there and then via webcam, submit and share it for the chance to win tickets to the FIFA World Cup Finals this summer.”

The site also has a leaderboard; at the time of writing England were in front with Spain in fourth place,

Sounds like a bit of a laugh, if nothing else, and the bonus is there’s a chance you could go and see Jamie Carragher, Fernando Torres or Javier Mascherano fighting for their countries instead of us in South Africa.

Tragedy as Besian Idrizaj dies in his sleep

Former Liverpool striker Besian Idrizaj has died of in his sleep at just 22 years of age.

Besian Idrizaj tragically died on Friday nightReports from his homeland of Austria suggested he had died of a heart attack, but his current club Swansea City say that the exact cause of his tragic death is yet to be confirmed.

The Swansea City website said: “Swansea City can confirm that the agent of young striker Besian Idrizaj has informed the club that the striker has sadly passed away.

“It is understood that the popular 22-year-old died in his sleep on Friday night while at home with his family in Austria.

“The exact cause of death has not been confirmed and our thoughts are with his family, friends and team-mates at this time.”

The Austrian forward became a Red in 2005 after being signed from LASK Linz, but was unfortunately unable to break into the first team during his three years at the club. After loans at Luton and Crystal Palace he returned to Austria for the remainder of his Liverpool contract on loan to Wacker Innsbruck.

It was whilst he was playing for Wacker in February 2008 that he collapsed on the field during a game, with fears that his career may have been over at twenty because of what was feared to be a heart condition.

However he recovered and was ultimately given the all-clear by doctors who said his collapse was the result of a virus. He was signed by Swansea City and considered the problems were now all in the past.

Speaking to the South Wales Evening Post shortly after his move to the Swans, Besian explained what he had been told about his collapse: “It was just a virus. It infected me badly and because of this I collapsed. I had the best doctors looking after me and I had all the tests, every one that you can have. There was nothing wrong with my heart.”

He also looked back on his time as a Red: “I really enjoyed myself there. I loved every second, but maybe I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have done. When you’re young you don’t really think about how big the club is. You never go home and think ‘I’m playing for a great team’.

He went on: “I had some really good chances to play in the first team at Liverpool and it was my fault I didn’t. I made mistakes but I don’t really want to speak about them. Swansea is my challenge now, but it would have been a dream to play in that team.

“Steven Gerrard is one of the top five players in the world, while I also looked up to people like Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia, you can always learn from these great players.”

And what most Liverpool fans will remember him for best of all was a pre-season friendly appearance against Wrexham: “In my last year I scored a hat-trick in a friendly, but then I realised I wasn’t going to play.”

He was clearly grateful to Swansea, and very much full of hope as he embarked on that next step in his career with Swansea at the start of the 2009-10 season: “When I didn’t have a club I was going to the gym every day and playing football with my friends as much as I could. I played five-a-side and sometimes tournaments at the weekend. Now I have this chance at Swansea and I am desperate to show everyone what I can do.”

Besian IdrizajBesian also said, very poignantly: “There have been ups and downs in my career but there are always going to be knocks in your life. When they come you always have to stand up again.”

Signed at the start of the season, Besian would go on to play four times four games for Swansea, including one League Cup appearance, as the Swans narrowly missed out on a play-off spot.

Swansea said they were waiting for more details from Austria before commenting further.

Liverpool said: “Everyone at Liverpool Football Club would like to pass on their condolences to Besian’s family and friends at this very sad time.”

Those thoughts are of course shared by Anfield Road, and we’re sure by all Liverpool supporters.

Rest in Peace. You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Get on with the takeover before we take over

Protests at Anfield

It’s depressing enough being a Liverpool fan just by looking at the league table or that big taxi-meter style counter totting up the ridiculous daily interest payments the club has to make. Then you find yourself trying to reason with people who have far more interest in seeing the manager replaced than finding ways of making the owners sell up more quickly. People who are so set on seeing that manager gone that they just won’t stop for a few minutes and consider that maybe, just maybe, it’s not all as simple as blaming one person for all the ills this club has to endure.

Then you realise that many of those people you’ve been trying to reason with haven’t got the courage to step away from the little group they’re in and actually think about things all by themselves, to make their own minds up, to question the joint opinion of their little group on all things LFC and to maybe even risk finding themselves drummed out of that little group. So, briefly, you wonder why you even bothered trying; they’ll not change their minds until one of their leaders or advisers tells them to.

That’s when you realise that you’re not talking to them, not really. They won’t change their minds in a hurry, but a lot of people listen in without getting involved. And they are the people you’re talking to really, people who will listen to all that is said and make their own minds up. People who don’t just follow their leader. People with the sense to see that people at the club are using fans for their own ends. Continue reading Get on with the takeover before we take over

25 years – Remembering the victims of the Bradford City fire.

25 years ago today, Saturday May 11th 1985, 56 people died in a fire at a football match in Bradford.

On what started as a day of celebration for newly-promoted Bradford City, joy turned to tragedy as the main stand caught fire at Valley Parade.

In memory of the victims, and to their families and the survivors, we understand your pain and you are in our thoughts and prayers.

You’ll Never Walk Alone. Continue reading 25 years – Remembering the victims of the Bradford City fire.

Hull v Liverpool: Robinson on bench

A depressing season for Liverpool comes to an end this afternoon with a game at relegated Hull that seems like a case of going through the motions. But it’s more than that for at least one of Liverpool’s squad. 16-year-old academy player Jack Robinson is on the bench and would become the club’s youngest-ever first team player if the manager brought him on.

Will it be Rafa’s last game in charge? Despite the speculation it seems unlikely, but it really is difficult to work out what happens next for a club that is falling apart from above, and too hard to tell which of the squad – or those out through injury or otherwise – will be a part of the club’s plans for next season.

Yossi Benayoun is believed to have played his last game for the club, but if the chairman is to be believed Fernando Torres hasn’t.

But can we believe the chairman? That is the sort of question all Liverpool fans must strive to find an answer to, because the truth has been a stranger to the Anfield boardroom for far too long.

Good luck to Jack.

Liverpool: Reina, Mascherano, Kyrgiakos, Carragher, Agger, Lucas, Gerrard, Aquilani, Babel, El Zhar, Kuyt
Subs: Cavalieri, Ngog, Degen, Skrtel, Ayala, Robinson, Pacheco

Expert Analysis: Liverpool’s finances


By David Bick, Chairman, Square1 Consulting

Once again, the accounts for the main operating company of Liverpool FC, namely Kop Football (Holdings) Limited, do not make attractive reading.

Tom Hicks and George Gillett, owners, Liverpool Football ClubThe net loss of £53m is up on the loss of £42m for 2008 and the bulk of this is accounted for by interest charges of £40m (actually £43m when capitalised interest is taken into account – which doesn’t get shown on the profit and loss account). Over two years, the company has racked up losses of £95m of which interest charges make up a whopping £76m. These substantial losses seem at odds with a recent statement by the club that profitability had been improved since 2007. The interest charges are a combination of those paid to RBS and those due to Kop Football (Cayman) Limited, a company controlled by George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

There is a negative net worth on the balance sheet of £128m, a further decline from a minus £75m in the previous year.

Net borrowings have climbed substantially and stood at £351m, up 17% on the previous year. Included in these outstanding debts is £144m owed to Kop Football (Cayman) Limited and this figure has climbed £86m in one year alone, although no explanation is given as to why.

The borrowing agreement with RBS was only renewed for 6 months last July through to 24 January this year and then, again for reasons not explained, for less than 6 weeks to 3 March. It is also not explained how and to when the borrowing facility has been extended since that date.

The auditors again write a going concern paragraph and make clear that the business is dependent on short term bank facility extensions.

If the interest charges are at similar levels for the year which will end this 31 July, and estimated operating profit turns out to be as has been reported, further losses are going to be difficult to avoid.

Within the stated income, it is not clarified how much was contributed from the participation in the European Champions League, which is income that will clearly be missing next season.

All in all, these numbers – and the auditor’s observations – speak for themselves.

Financial expert David Bick has been a City PR and takeover adviser for over 25 years and has handled a number of football assignments. He has in depth experience of both the financial markets and the football industry and is a respected contributor to Sky Sports News.

LFC: Broughton-Purslow-Benitez summit “constructive”.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

The meeting between Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, new chairman Martin Broughton and managing director Christian Purslow that took place earlier today was described as “constructive” and the first of what is intended to be a “series” of meetings.

A Liverpool statement said: “We are pleased that the first of what is intended to be a series of meetings took place today between the chairman, managing director and the manager.”

“The meeting was constructive.

“The chairman shared his views about plans for the future of the club. There was an exchange of views on issues of concern to both the board and the manager which were either addressed or to be picked up in forthcoming meetings.”

It remains to be seen what the true outcome of the meeting was and whether Rafa Benitez got the assurances he sought, namely that he be able to re-invest any money from sales this summer into new purchases. Chances are that only one of the trio will be forced to answer questions on the meeting at a press conference, and that will be at Rafa’s regular pre-match meeting with the media later in the week.

And it hardly sounds like the trio were about to head off for a few celebratory points afterwards.

LFC chairman must deal with those causing the damage

By Tom Wilson and Jim Boardman

On Saturday a senior Liverpool official made it perfectly clear that there was absolutely nothing to read from the fact that Reds boss Rafa Benítez was yet to meet new chairman Martin Broughton. He claimed it was all part of some plot to paint a false picture of disharmony at Anfield. He got on great with Rafa and Rafa was happy.

Even now it’s difficult to work out how he thought anyone would fall for that. Or why he seems to tell different stories to different people. People compare notes, compare what he’s told them, then shake their heads.

On Saturday the senior official said that there had been one meeting planned. It would have been ahead of the first-leg of the Europa League semi against Atlético Madrid, but volcanic ash put paid to that idea.  When the call came out for the squad to meet up at Runcorn station, the meeting was unsurprisingly called off.

Obviously the new chairman is quite different to the last man to have the job all to himself. David Moores used to travel on the team bus with the squad; Martin Broughton doesn’t come across as someone who would feel comfortable slumming it across Europe in first class with the players.

According to the senior Liverpool official on Saturday, no other meeting had been scheduled so far. The first opportunity following the journey to Madrid would probably have been tied in with the return leg a week later, but with Rafa unavailable until after midnight it was decided, the senior official said, that there was no time for the chairman to meet the manager. Presumably the chairman – who of course has other responsibilities away from Liverpool FC – was unable to pop round to Melwood the following morning.

That following morning, the Friday, had been the day before the senior official was explaining why there hadn’t yet been a meeting. And at almost the exact time as the senior Liverpool official was explaining why there hadn’t been a meeting so far, the club’s official site was making it clear that the next opportunity for a meeting was also going to be missed.

Liverpool’s last home game of the season was the following day, the Sunday, against the team Martin Broughton has supported all his life, Chelsea. Broughton had presumably set off home early on Friday morning after watching the Atlético game, and he told the official site he wouldn’t be coming back up for that Chelsea match. He wasn’t even going to be in the city for the game, he didn’t want to be seen to celebrate any Chelsea goals. “The only sensible thing is for me to stay at home and watch it on the television,” he said.

So he wasn’t exactly making himself available for a meeting with Rafa, which in itself isn’t really a major issue. He’d cleared off before Rafa was available on the Thursday night, he didn’t stick around on Friday to meet then and he didn’t come back up on Saturday in preparation for the Sunday match, so no chance of squeezing a meeting in there.

Rafa did want to talk to him, but there clearly hadn’t been time. It was frustrating but understandable. Surely a meeting would be held before the week was out, with no game for Liverpool Rafa would have more room in his own diary to match up with Broughton’s no-doubt hectic schedule.

But then came the story on the BBC website, and other BBC outlets, soon to spread like wildfire around the rest of the media.

“Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has cancelled two scheduled face-to-face meetings with the club’s new chairman, Martin Broughton,” wrote David Bond, the BBC’s replacement for Mihir Bose as Sports Editor.

Bond had the same title at the Telegraph before joining the BBC, but will be best remembered by Liverpool fans from his time as the paper’s Chief Sports Reporter. From knowing full details of Gillett and Hick’s refinancing deal with RBS before it was announced, to publishing emails DIC and Amanda Staveley had been sent by Hicks, Bond was clearly getting information from people inside and outside the club during that very turbulent period.

So who would be talking to him now? Whoever it was wanted to add more weight to the campaign to see Rafa hounded out of the club. “It is understood that he [Benítez] pulled out of talks with Broughton last week and another the week before,” wrote Bond.

As has just been explained, Rafa did not cancel any meetings with Broughton, and whatever any fan thinks of Benítez, or where his future should be, the fact that someone from Liverpool is trying to smear the manager should set alarm bells ringing loud and clear.

This is about far more than Rafael Benítez. This is just the latest in a long line of examples of the press being briefed about Rafa in a way that certainly wasn’t designed to be supportive of the manager. What other lies are being peddled?

Even Bond seemed to be unsure of exactly what the story was, writing: “It is not clear why Benitez cancelled the meetings with Broughton, although the last two weeks have been affected by preparations for Liverpool’s Europa League semi-final meetings with Atletico Madrid. The first week in particular was heavily disrupted as Benitez’s team were forced to make the long journey to the Spanish capital by road and rail after flights were grounded by ash from the Icelandic volcano.”

LFC chairman Martin Broughton. With Christian Purslow.Benítez didn’t cancel the meetings, but if he had it was probably slightly more important he got on that train at Runcorn than staying back to meet Broughton. Even Rafa can’t be blamed for the volcanic ash. So why would someone at Anfield feed the BBC this “story”?

There aren’t too many candidates for the source of this latest leak. Bond said it came from a Liverpool board member: “There is some surprise inside the Anfield boardroom at the timing of Benitez’s call on Tuesday for an urgent meeting with Broughton to discuss the future.”

Bond was one of the first reporters to interview Martin Broughton after his appointment, so perhaps he is a candidate for this story being fed to the press. But Broughton wasn’t at the club when the earliest briefings against Rafa began, to other members of the press. Of course it’s always possible that somebody else told Broughton that Rafa had cancelled the meetings. Someone wary of Rafa actually getting to meet the chairman, and telling the chairman exactly what has been going on.

One subtle hint that somebody was talking out of turn came in one of the infamous Henry Winter columns. In November he wrote: “The impressive managing director, Christian Purslow, is not the type for knee-jerk reactions. But it is known around Anfield that Purslow has talked to Benítez about his style of management, notably his cold detachment from the players.”

So back in November someone from the club was telling Henry Winter that Benítez had been given a dressing-down by Purslow, that Benítez was being told how to manage his players, essentially being told how to do his job. And it’s as obvious as it looks exactly who it was that impressed this information on Winter.

That wasn’t all that Winter learned from his new source: “Liverpool can afford to sack Benítez,” wrote Winter. “Compensation would be less than £5 million under the ‘mitigating the loss’ principle if he found employment.”  Which perhaps should now have Winter scratching his head as to why impressive people would be on the phone to him angrily criticising the manager instead of just sacking him.

And it’s not as if Winter wasn’t afforded the opportunity to ask that question. No prizes for guessing which senior Liverpool official spent a good part of the bank holiday weekend frantically phoning around trying to get his side, or one of his sides, of the story over. It was almost as if he was frightened that the truth might come out. And Winter had a chance to challenge this particular Liverpool board member on where his stories didn’t really add up. But some reporters would rather just take the information they’re fed and repeat it, hoping there’s plenty more where that came from, than question what they are being told.

Having managed to get so many column inches out of the politicking of a certain LFC board member, Winter completely missed the irony of his opening paragraph: “If Rafael Benítez truly respects Liverpool Football Club he’ll leave Anfield today. The players have lost the faith, the boardroom is unimpressed with the politicking and the supporters are suffering, albeit in silence.”

When the truth does come out about a certain LFC board member and his efforts to keep the truth from the supporters, perhaps that silence will be broken. And maybe that silence needs to be broken. Maybe the efforts to keep the attention on Benítez to take it away from the failings of the Managing Director and the owners he worked for need to be emphasised a little more. And that might just be a bit messy – but what’s new? That’s how it’s been at Anfield for some time. “If he stays, the inevitable long goodbye becomes indescribably messy, distressing for all concerned and demeaning to a club of Liverpool’s great history. This is not a warning for Benítez, this is a fact,” wrote Winter. The same fact applies, but much more strongly, to the club’s temporary MD.

Bill Shankly was the man who made Liverpool great, the man who brought so much of that “great history” to the club. Nobody knows what he would have made of Benitez; chances are he would have seen good and bad in him and he could well have been saying Rafa’s time was up by now. But it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to work out what he would have thought of the club’s owners. And it takes even less imagination to work out what he would have thought of Christian Purslow. And less still what he would have thought of the tactics employed by the club’s current custodian to force Rafa out.

Shanks would also have torn a strip off Henry Winter had he ever been unfortunate enough to cross his path. Winter wrote of Rafa: “He’s got a centre-back at left-back and a holding midfielder at right-back.” With the only two left-backs at the club injured, what else was Rafa meant to do? One thing Rafa tried was putting the right-back at left-back, which was why the holding midfielder played at right-back on the Thursday. By the Sunday the right-back was injured too, which is why the centre-back went to left-back, and the holding midfielder stayed at right-back. This isn’t a string of excuses; it’s just some simple facts. Liverpool have to make do and mend.

Christian Purlsow’s arrival coincided with spending on transfers that, going off the fees available in public, went from being “net spend” to “net profit”. Liverpool brought more in than went out last year. That’s the calendar year 2009.

When Winter used the phrase “How embarrassing,” in his article it surely should have been to describe his own willingness to stick up so transparently for his source in the Liverpool boardroom. And really his article didn’t deserve much more time than that, as went into some kind of rant out of sympathy to his new friend on the board at Anfield.

That new friend should have the balls to stand up in public and say what he’s saying privately to the press, if he truly believes it and feels it would stand up to scrutiny. But he knows that, despite claims to the contrary, most Liverpool fans either want Benítez to stay or only want him to leave because they feel he’s been worn down by the unnecessary pressures of the past few years. The vast majority of fans will always consider Benítez a hero, whatever happens.

And that is what frightens the board member. He knows that sooner or later the manager will blow him up for what he’s done. He knows that more and more people are starting to see through him. And he knows that if he sacks the manager he’ll never be forgiven.

Liverpool’s new chairman was appointed in a non-executive role. The senior Liverpool official constantly points out that the new chairman was appointed in that way, and that he has no control over the actual running of the club, that he’s merely there to sell the club.

But the senior Liverpool official fails to mention something very important about the role of a non-executive director. According to the government-commissioned Higgs report, non-executive directors “are responsible for… where necessary removing, senior management.”

Surely a senior Liverpool official briefing the press against the club’s manager, over such a sustained period, is grounds for his removal. His decision to bad-mouth the club’s owners, however accurate it might be, is hardly the best way to attract £100m of investment. And that was his major objective when appointed. Perhaps he wanted to delay the partial sale to prolong his own career as Mr Liverpool, to help build up that empire. Is this not also grounds for removal? To discuss transfer targets – even if they are his own, not the manager’s – with the press is also grounds for removal. The list goes on.

And that, Martin Broughton, is where you come in. You need to get to the bottom of this mess and you need to get to the bottom of it fast.

It’s not just your reputation that depends on it.

Tom Wilson on Twitter:

Jim Boardman on Twitter:

Anfield Road on Twitter:


Is it too much to ask?

Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez does not want to leave Liverpool. If Liverpool want him to leave they’ve not told him so directly. And he’s not agreed a deal with Juventus.

The only reason he’s not denied the speculation about his future being elsewhere is because he wants one perfectly reasonable assurance from the club first.

Any money that comes in from player sales, he wants to be able to use on new signings.

Is that too much to ask?

Last year it was. Last season the club brought far more in from sales than it spent on adding new players.

And this is where the arguments about Rafa’s future start to become far more trivial than what it all says about the bigger picture.

What a great way to distract fans from that bigger picture. Spend a whole season with the attention on the manager, making sure that one story is given out in public, then a range of other stories are given out in private dependent on the audience.

Liverpool Football Club have been involved in the Champions League for every one of Rafa’s six seasons so far. The money coming in from TV rights deals has gone up by a massive amount in recent years. The commercial side of the club has been improved dramatically, certainly in monetary terms. In 2009 Liverpool should have had money to spend on transfers over and above what came in from player sales.

From the beginning of February 2009 until the end of August 2009 players sales earned Liverpool somewhere in the region of £52.5m. In the same six months the club committed to paying out transfer fees of £36m.

So Liverpool made a profit of £16.5m on player trading in those six months of 2009. Since then they’ve continued to bring more in that they’ve laid out for transfers.

Yet Christian Purslow told The Times, last August, that the club had actually spent £20m: “We’ve spent pretty much the same as we’ve spent every year over the past four or five years. We’ve spent about £20 million more than we’ve generated, which is what we expected. We’ve bought players the manager wanted to buy and sold players the manager wanted to sell and it has cost us almost to the penny what we expected it to cost.”

How? How on earth did Purslow arrive at that figure? That figure represents a difference of £36.5m on what any supporter can see was spent.

Where did that £36.5m go?

Of course all of that could be checked in the club’s accounts. But they were due in on Friday and are now overdue. By the time they come out the manager will be gone, and not for the right reasons.

More evidence that something was amiss with the transfer funding for last year comes when looking back at what the manager said after signing Glen Johnson. He kept quiet about the fact the deal was part-funded by money Portsmouth still owed the club for the transfer of Peter Crouch and the loan of Jermaine Pennant. He was happy to just stick to the script put in front of him by the new temporary MD. But after being pressed on whether there would be any more signings he didn’t see a problem in saying that there might be, that he had funds in place.

Benítez said: “We have a plan. We can sign one more player if necessary, but that’s without any players leaving.”

At that point in time the club still hadn’t sold Xabi Alonso, Álvaro Arbeloa or Sebastian Leto; players who would eventually be sold for a total of £36.5m.

The club only bought two more players, £17m Alberto Aquilani and £2m Sotirios Kyrgiakos, at a total of £19m.

So that’s £14.5m left over, plus the money Rafa had already said was available for another signing. Except the £14.5m didn’t get handed over, and the extra funds Rafa had spoken about disappeared. So again, how on earth could the temporary MD make the claim that the club had spent £20m on players?

Before Purslow’s £20m claim, on August 18th, a message came out from a ‘source close to Rafa Benítez’.  The unnamed source said: “The figures have changed since Rafa signed his contract. He has sold several players and raised a lot of money, but is not being allowed to spend it.” This quote came after Rafa himself felt he couldn’t talk about the missing funds at a regular press conference, his only response being “I do not want to discuss money.”

Soon after this it became common knowledge amongst the press that whenever Rafa attended any kind of meeting with the press Purslow would be there to shadow him, it was as if Purslow was frightened that Rafa might not stick to the Purslow version of events, the Purslow version of how things were going behind the scenes.

It stuck out like a sore thumb to many of those who witnessed it.

In that interview with the times Purslow also showed ignorance about why the owners even got the chance to take over our club. The need for the stadium, the one that still isn’t started, was basically to provide transfer funds to allow the club to compete with its rivals. David Moores felt he had no way of bringing that new stadium to fruition, hence the search for investment. But Purslow tried –when making that doubtful £20m transfer spending claim – to make out that transfer spending wasn’t all that important anyway: “Spending isn’t the panacea everyone thinks it is, but we’ve spent £20 million and that’s real money.”

But despite that attempt to play down the importance of the transfer budget, Purslow has had to keep trying to explain it. In September he tried to, telling the Liverpool Echo: “We reinvest over half of our profits in transfer spending. We always have done and we will continue to do so.” Of course the accounts are late, so we don’t know what half the profit would have been last summer, but we also know that if the club made a profit on transfers it certainly didn’t invest any of its operating profit into transfers.

And this summer Rafa isn’t even asking them to do that. He wants the assurance that he can spend whatever comes in from sales. If the club can’t assure him of that, where does it leave the club? What kind of future does the club have if it can’t even use what it gets from sales?

If Rafa leaves, having failed to get that simple assurance from the chairman, the board, the owners or whoever it is that is running this club, we’ve got far more to worry about than many fans seem to think.