The alternative side to the LFC ownership mess

The ownership crisis at Anfield is still some way short of being resolved, with conflicting claims continuing to muddy waters that haven’t been clear in a long time. And I’ve been asked repeatedly to explain why my stance has shifted from that of the masses. I’ll try.

The mud has been thick these past few weeks, from when George Gillett went on the radio in Montreal to declare his intention never to sell to Tom Hicks, until this morning when a David Moores interview in the Echo will no doubt stir things further. And that’s before tomorrow’s Sundays get onto it.

Taking a step back for a moment and trying to think calmly can be difficult. It’s an emotional subject. Whether you’re a season ticket holder or a fan thousands of miles away with no choice other than watching on TV, Liverpool Football Club is something that becomes part of you, and you part of it.

Earlier in the season, Liverpool supporters holding up banners saying “One DIC is better than two” and singing “Liverpool Football Club is in the wrong hands” were reacting to the news that Tom Hicks had admitted both owners had spoken to Jurgen Klinsmann about Rafa’s job, and fears that the club’s future was on a knife’s edge because of fears over the impact of £350m debt.

What happened to Hicks was that numerous claims and denials he’d made on various issues were put in doubt because he’d admitted the Klinsmann story. To cut a long story short, claims in November were that the owners had been set to sack Rafa, and his Champions League progressions was all that saved him. A private meeting in December saw a statement released that Rafa and the owners had sorted out their differences. An interview soon after saw Hicks say the papers had made up the story they were about to sack Rafa. The admission by Hicks that they had met Klinsmann saw him shown as having lied. How could he claim the papers made it up when he was now admitting the replacement was being lined up?

The admission angered George Gillett and that anger never went away. Gillett felt it would blow over if nothing was said, even though the German FA and Bayern Munich both had senior officials saying Klinsmann had turned Liverpool down. Gillett was also said to be angry at Hicks’ decision to release details of the refinancing.

Go back over the past few months and far more has been said about the situation from unnamed sources and “I believe” type claims than in any official statements or direct quotes.

And because of the hatred that stems back to that Klinsmann incident, and everything else that it brought with it, everything negative said about Hicks is taken as fact by the majority of Liverpool supporters.

And anyone daring to suggest that an opinion different to ‘Hicks must go, Gillett was bullied, Parry is trying to help’ is jumped upon by the angry mob. It’s understandable. I’ve been much the same myself until fairly recently.

Why I am no longer in the camp of believing everything said against Hicks, or in favour of others, is hard to explain. I’ve tried countless times but every time I am accused of being “on Hicks’ payroll” and other such ludicrous shouts. But again it’s understandable.

People won’t like me using this example, but it’s one I’ve used on myself in the past when spending sleepless nights trying to make head or tail of this mess.

Get 100 Everton supporters in a room and ask them what they know about Steven Gerrard’s personal life. You know what they’ll say. Maybe not all of them, but the vast majority will probably sing a certain song, before explaining why they have that song. They’ve no proof of it – because it’s untrue anyway – but that’s of no importance. They hate Liverpool, some hate Liverpool in a quite unhealthy way. After all it’s our fault that (insert any Everton misfortune here) happened. So a story about Gerrard based on rumours started by his enemies is believed without question.

They’ll tell you more tales that a large number of them will at the very least say must be possible, Daniel Agger’s had some unfounded nonsense spread about him recently; much like Robbie Fowler did a few years back culminating in his touchline-sniffing goal celebration that was overreacted to by the FA.

They hate Liverpool, so it’s no problem at all to believe the stories they hear. And for many of them there would never be a change of stance, unless they personally became victims of similar made-up rumours. Some of the more sensible ones might hear ludicrous claims about one of their own players and realise that believing a story just because it fits in with your own feelings towards that person or who that person represents is dangerous.

That’s pretty much how my own feelings started to change.

It hit me really for the first time around the time of the much-hyped meeting in Dubai. I remember seeing the email from Hicks to al-Ansari and Hicks’ angry response to it having been leaked. He blamed it on Amanda Staveley, saying: “She should also know better than to release actual copies of my private correspondence to the press.” At the time I remember thinking that Hicks could have been wrong about who leaked it. It could have been a less senior figure involved in talks, it could have been Rick Parry – who was in meetings with Staveley in the days prior to the leak – or it could even have been someone in his own organisation. I was angry that just at the beginning of the first face-to-face talks between the Hicks organisation and DIC Hicks was throwing angry accusations at DIC’s senior negotiator.

Still, we waited for news. Talks were underway on the Monday, Hicks himself wasn’t there but his sons and others from the Hicks organisation were. DIC had promised that taking a 49% share was ok with them on certain conditions; finally it looked like an end was in site. When they broke down I was devastated. I clearly remember my disappointment.

But then came that claim in the Echo. It was in retaliation to the Hicks statement saying that DIC wanted the club run by committee. I know without any shadow of a doubt that DIC’s representatives had made the claim. The talks had supposedly broken down after the Hicks people were unwilling to consider placing a supporter representative on the board, with voting rights. It was a ludicrous claim in its own right. It suggested that somebody put forward by SoS members (for example) would get to vote on major decisions, to impact on how money might be spent, to influence where pre-season games might be played. Millions of pounds worth of decisions hanging on the views of a supporter neither owner would have any say in the appointment of. On top of that I had an extra reason to disbelieve the claim, based on talks I’d had myself a short time before this incident, which made it clear to me where this idea had come from.

What that did was open my eyes.

That’s all. I just stopped. I turned off the mp3 of anti-Hicks songs and thought about things.

DIC had basically used a reporter to put out a statement designed to make them sound like the fan-friendly organisation we wanted, Hicks to sound like the control freak who had all kinds of evil plans waiting to take shape just as soon as he had the reins.

We had been lied to, by the people we thought we could trust. Our emotions had been played with.

I’d also been in contact with various people. I’m talking about those involved in this ownership wrangle, and others too. I also hear things from people who have their own contacts with similar or even the same people. One way or another, a lot of information comes my way that I can’t – or more accurately won’t – reveal on the site. I started to think through about some of this information; something didn’t feel right about various chunks of it.

All of a sudden, it was like something out of a film – all the past claims I’d based my opinions on were being called into question. It’s difficult to explain, but a hell of a lot of the assumptions we had as supporters were based on claims that DIC had put out there. I hadn’t realised this really, until that point, and they were flashing in front of me like scenes from a film. If anyone saw the recent Ashes to Ashes series on BBC1 they might be able to think about how Alex had sketchy memories and partial details of what had happened in the past, gaps filled in with assumptions, pre-conceived ideas of what had gone on, and as the series went on how much of this changed for her as new facts came into her possession, and old presumptions were discredited. I’m not at the point where the clown’s make-up disappears in the last episode yet, I’m probably still half-way through the series, but more and more is coming clear. Where’s Gene Hunt when you need him?

Talking of clowns, Rick Parry is known as Coco by supporters. At times I’ve felt sorry for him, often wondering if he’s spent hours trying to persuade David Moores to act a certain way only to find he can’t change his mind and he has to announce something he’s not keen on. I felt sorry for him when the owners came in, picturing him having to spend every day with Foster at his side as his working practices were noted down on the way to him eventually moving on and leaving the club. Even the ticket fiasco before Athens drew sympathy from me, when I wondered if the owners had decided to allocate themselves a few thousand tickets for their own contacts, and there was Parry having to explain where they’d gone without being allowed to say where they’d gone. (This wasn’t the case, as far as I know, it was just a thought at the time).

But I’m not sure that feeling sorry for him is the right thing to do. He’s been at the club for ten years, he had a big job at the Premier League before that, and he has no reason to expect an easy ride if he’s not acted to the best of his abilities. He’s well compensated for his job, no doubt enjoys perks most of us would dream of, and is right near the top of the club we all love. He’s no different to Rafa Benítez in terms of how he should be hired or fired based on how he does his job.

If we can excuse Benítez based on lack of transfer budget, lack of an assistant, off-field interference or whatever then we can excuse Parry on certain points. But what is he paid to do exactly? I was asked this question earlier this week by somebody not really a football fan, it was asked in all innocence. It’s a tough question!

Rather than go over the events of the past couple of weeks I’d like to think about the discrepancies between now and little over a year ago.

David Moores may have been the man with the ultimate decision to sell to Hicks and Gillett, but Rick Parry was the man who explained the pros and cons of the decision to him.

And one of those pros and cons was the debt. There’s no hiding from it, £298m was borrowed to buy the club and budget for the first season.

Parry knew all about this. It was all in the offer document, and he knew it would attract interest at about 1.5% above base rate. Estimates at the time put the annual interest payment at around £21m.

The offer document was hardly strict in its wording about how debt might be put back onto the club or not, but clearly strict enough to prevent the purchase costs going back on the club. The £245m portion of the debt that stands at holding company level equates fairly closely to the purchase costs of a year ago, suggesting that’s where this odd split comes from.

But all that had really changed in a year was that the club had to find the money to pay the interest on £350m of debt not £298m. Some of it was secured on club assets, more of it wasn’t. Some cash had been put in now too.

I’m not downplaying the worries about debt being secured on the club, but have they actually been overplayed? I really don’t know. I heard one theory that by putting £105m on the club the £245m was available at a friendlier rate, as was the £105m. So other than the fear of the debt not being paid, that situation could be argued to help the club. But it’s just a theory, I’ve not been told anything to suggest it’s even slightly likely.

We’ve also had the credit crunch, and rumours persist that Gillett and Hicks have been and are being hit by it. Again, I’m not downplaying it, but I wonder how much it really has hit Hicks. I’ve heard too many claims now for me to believe Gillett has escaped its pressures, but Hicks remains an uncertainty in that regard.

So trying to be open-minded, and not ready to angrily dismiss this next statement, how much worse of did our financial position come from what was known to be the case at takeover, to the point January when the next deal was signed? I can see an argument that says we shouldn’t be surprised, let’s put it that way.

I’ve heard claims that the most recent finance came at a high rate of interest, but neither Gillett nor Hicks have said that, not for the £245m or for the £105m. It’s all come from presumptions from certain people. If – and again this is purely out of open mindedness – the interest rate was the same, the new finance deal caused a relatively small increase in the interest burden. I used 7.1% as a rate that sounded feasible compared to the £21m figure I mentioned earlier. The interest on £298m rounds to £21.2m. The interest on £350m rounds to £24.9m. I’ve not looked at interest rates between takeover and January 2008, I’ve just used the same figure twice. And it leaves us £3.7m a year worse-off in terms of our burden for paying off any interest.

This is as valid as any other educated guess that has been made about the interest costs of the finance. And it suggests that we should have been exactly as worried a year ago about debt as we are now.

That’s my own simplistic way of looking at things. If it’s so bad now, why didn’t Parry warn Moores et al back then?

Or is it not really quite so bad now?

I’ve more questions than answers, but more often than not I can’t find anybody with decent, believable answers. If Parry answered that question, short of coming out with some proof that the interest rate is significantly higher than a year ago, he can’t defend himself. He’s helping to worry us all that Hicks and Gillett have put us into unmanageable debt – but it’s only a fraction worse than a year ago, and in football terms it’s a tiny difference.

The stadium costs are still a worry, or are they? if we did take the word of Hicks in his statement of a few months ago then we’ve got £60m waiting there ready to get the diggers hired, foundations dug, and whatever else £60m gets you these days. I’ve heard nothing to suggest that the £60m wouldn’t be enough to get things moving – in fact I’ve heard that even without a change of ownership the stadium work can commence as soon as the necessary approvals have been received.

Getting finance for construction projects is usually done in a way that money is released bit-by-bit over the life of the actual building work. By the time the building is completed, whether it’s a house or something bigger like a stadium, it’s time to pay the full regular payment to cover both the interest and gradual reduction of capital. Simplifying figures for a moment, 7% interest on £300m is £21m a year. If the club paid £24m a year over 30 years at that rate of interest the stadium would be paid for by the end of the thirty years.

DIC are planning to borrow to pay for the stadium too, so criticism of the plans for the stadium financing apply equally to DIC, give or take the potential of fractional differences in interest rates.

Estimates vary as to how much of an increase in revenue would come from the new stadium. We’re not in London, so haven’t the same pull in many ways that Arsenal have, but we’ve no less pull than Manchester United either. But figures of an extra £40m a year seem achievable, and that’s before naming rights are added on. Around £16m a year extra plus naming rights, from the new stadium alone.

Then you remember this £350m debt. Well knock £60m off that for now because it relates to stadium costs. Even so it’s still around £20m a year in interest to find if the current finance model remained. But even that’s a big “if” now. Hicks spoke of ideas where investment wasn’t made using borrowed money; instead it comes from investors looking for a return linked to financial performance. That’s potentially going to mean more than £20m a year if the performance is good enough – but if so then it would suggest good times on the pitch and off it.

And of course, there would remain that worry that the investors in question would not allow the board to spend on transfers if it was to hit their profits too hard. But such concerns can be addressed in agreements made at the time of investment. Hicks would be shooting himself in the foot if he didn’t consider that issue, because a sizeable portion of our income has to go on transfers.

None of this has come from anything one side has put to me to try and win me over, it’s come from my decision to stop for a moment and think. To put other concerns and fears to one side for a moment and to look at things with a less negative approach.

When you compare 12 months ago with now, removing the negativity of the owners’ disagreements and the stories about how George Gillett has no way of staying on board given his financial position, you see that there is a possibility – that’s all – that life under Hicks’ sole ownership may not be as bad as feared. If it is, and again it would be hard for him to answer, why did Rick Parry not warn David Moores?

Very little has changed materially. The stadium costs have gone up because it’s a far superior stadium; I doubt many would want to go back to the “Parry Bowl” idea.

If – and it’s subject to being checked out by those with access to the figures – if the club can afford the interest payments as much now as it could a year ago then where the money actually sits is not a real worry. Securing it on the club means that the owners could be tempted to take more risks than if it was secured on their own other assets, but other than that there should be room there for the club to make the payments and so there never to be a need to worry about the security.

Figures given for Liverpool’s financial gap from Manchester United can’t all be blamed on a smaller stadium, so where are we going wrong? Can we sort that out? Can we sell more shirts in China as mocked by one reporter or other recently? We should be able to. In fact we should already be doing so. Why we’re not is arguably down to Rick Parry, who could have hired a team a long time ago to ‘exploit those markets’ as some would say.

Of course all of this open-mindedness relies on Tom Hicks being able to get the finance he maintains he still can. DIC’s hints at knowing he can’t are either based on fact, or are tactics that are a part of their strategy to unsettle Hicks and those thinking of joining with him.

If everyone involved in the battle for control wants to be all high-and-mighty about washing the dirty linen in public, and the Liverpool way, and all the other stuff thrown out if an opponent does or says anything then that’s fine. Just practice what you preach.

If DIC’s leaked claims that Hicks is on the ropes are true then the battle will soon be over anyway, so it’s a case of waiting until he accepts it and they can come in. The fact they aren’t sitting quietly in wait suggests that he isn’t on the ropes. They’re trying to get him onto them. A lot of people say that this is acceptable, that this is business and in business it’s important to play dirty if you want to do well.

Again that’s fine – but surely it’s also acceptable for all the different sides in the battle to act this way?

Talk is increasing of a finite period having already started, in which Hicks must take up an option to buy Gillett’s half or lose his right to a veto. We can all guess where this talk originates, and it seems to be against what Gillett said in the recent interview. Hicks had merely “threatened” to invoke a veto, said Gillett.

And if the veto time limit of the end of May turned out to be true, would DIC be happy with just the 50%? The earlier claims they could then force Gillett out by blocking moves for the next round of refinancing seem to be untrue. The £105m debt can stay on the club unless the board agree to move it. It can’t be removed by the will of one owner. The rest of the debt may be on the holding company, but it’s secured on other assets belonging to each owner. DIC would not, despite claims we’ve often heard, find it easy to force Hicks out once inside the company any more than Gillett could.

Out of interest, what right did George Gillett have to (according to reports) rebuke Ian Ayre for spending time in London with Tom Hicks as he went to try and get his finance deal done? Hasn’t George Gillett been using Rick Parry to do exactly the same thing with DIC? One of the owners used an executive of the club in discussions with investors aimed at ending the current mess of an ownership situation. So did the other.

I hope that presents as confusing a picture as the one in my mind. To summarise it all, Rick Parry has learned nothing significantly new about Tom Hicks since he was advising David Moores on his sale to the Americans.

DIC were going to pay £201m I believe for the club, including debt, just over a year ago. Now it’s reported at anything from £400m to £500m. Why? What did they miss? They’re not a charity. So why pay double now?

Did David Moores snub them, if so, why? For more money in his own pocket? Or because Rick Parry told him to? Or was it the offer of life presidency? And why does David Moores now think Tom Hicks is so bad. And I’m not talking about the letter, because this goes back much further than that.

And I’m not asking for a list of reasons why Tom Hicks is so bad. I want to know what changed significantly in a year. Parry knew his time at Anfield was limited from the day the Americans took over, the original plan could have seen him out of the door already so he’s done better than he might have expected out of this. But he no doubt felt that once the owners were in, he could survive beyond the two-year maximum they had him marked down for. It seems this idea has been scuppered.

So, we now know Parry stands to lose his job if Hicks takes over. But would he have lost his job under DIC first time round? Is he assured of a job second time round? Is there a bonus in this for him one way or other?

In all, we’re expected to believe that Tom Hicks is so bad for this club that George Gillett is in fear of his life for selling to him. But Rick Parry agrees he’s bad for the club too, so much so that he’s spending a lot of his working week on various trips to London to speak to DIC. And he’s doing this with George Gillett’s blessing, on George Gillett’s behalf almost.

So what’s in it for the club now that wasn’t in it for the club a year ago? Or is all this “best for the club” stuff just a smokescreen?

Even if Tom Hicks threw the towel in today, and Rick Parry agreed to resign at the same time, with no pay-off, I’d still want those questions answering. I’d still want to know what changed significantly; I’d still want to know what the true motives were then and what they are now. From Parry, and from DIC. And also, I’d want to know what Gillett’s true motives are now. Why did he spring out of his early retirement plan as far English soccer was concerned?

So there are, as best as I can explain it, the reasons why I stopped believing any and every negative story about Hicks, and why I started to question the others. If Hicks wins, do we not deserve the right ourselves to have feelings towards the owner based on as much truth as possible? Let’s hate him for the right reasons, let’s crack down on his real faults, let’s try and make the best of it. If it happens. But if DIC’s claims are true this is all academic anyway, they’ll be in and Hicks will be out, but at least in 12 months’ time any unexpected and unwanted policies would be harder to implement, because we’d have questioned them first, rather than let them in with open arms and able to do as they please.

61 thoughts on “The alternative side to the LFC ownership mess”

  1. Jim, regrettably I find it impossible to come back point by point partly because the ground rule you set out for dialogue is unreasonable viz -I know things I can’t disclose and have sources I can’t name so you take what I say on trust but you must back your opinions with corroboration and source – also because it serves no useful purpose since as you know I regard the whole who did what and who is a bigger villain issue as a sideshow to the LBO threat to LFC and top class football in general. Until I see reasonable evidence that Hicks has, like you, undergone a change in perspective on this I will remain resolutely opposed to his ownership of our club.

    You really cannot be surprised at the reaction to recent articles when a simple re-read of previous pieces throws up such anomalies as:

    Rafa to be sacked by absentee owners?
    Posted on November 25th, 2007 by Jim Boardman

    “If Bascombe writes that then Bascombe has been told that. If he only though it was a possibility (as Rafa would put it) then he wouldn’t have worded it in such a way. His editor didn’t ask him to beef a story up. He wrote the story from information given to him. Chilling information.”

    Contrast this with your comments on Bascombe’s piece today.

    Here is a crude time event line, or you could say certain milestones on the road to Damascus:

    Huge interest payments will cripple Reds
    Posted on January 29th, 2008

    “Tom Hicks got his PR firm to confirm last night what we’ve known all along – Liverpool Football Club will be paying the interest on the loan he took out to make himself richer.”

    Desperate Hicks makes desperate claims
    Posted on February 28th, 2008

    “Tom Hicks has gone off on one again, or so it seems. Gone off into one of those wild fantasy worlds where he vehemently denies something or other to do with his ownership of Liverpool Football Club. All around him are great big pointers to whatever he’s denying being actually true, yet he stands there and says it isn’t”

    No question about it from those two pieces the arch-villain is Hicks.

    Nothing changes in Reds ownership battles
    Posted on March 25th, 2008

    Now we have the fan on the Board fiasco and Hicks is out of the frame and DIC are doing all the intriguing.

    “… was never any more than an attempt to use the emotions of the supporters yet again as a means of attacking Hicks and drumming up more support for DIC. Except most fans saw through it, and perhaps it did DIC more harm than good, more fans opening their eyes to the way they’ve been used in recent months.”

    What was Gillett playing at? Or playing for?
    Posted on March 29th, 2008

    “George Gillett’s decision to accuse Liverpool fans of issuing death threats against him, his wife, his son and his daughter-in-law, ones he took so seriously that he decided to back out of a potential sale of his half of Liverpool FC, couldn’t have come at a worse time.”

    Now Gillett has become the villain-in-chief and maybe there is more to Hicks than meets the eye.

    Gillett fancies a pint for his trouble
    Posted on April 8th, 2008 by Jim Boardman

    “Take your cameras with you to the pub tonight if you’re one of those lucky enough to be enjoying a pre- or post-match pint either side of the game.
    George Gillett is rumoured to be planning a visit to the Albert.
    It seems to be all part of an orchestrated campaign to recover his reputation with fans.”

    Gillett now retains his status as villain but the probability is now entertained that he is actually acting in concert with or being manipulated by DIC.
    By the time of this article many of the comments were on the change in the tone of the articles, the background message if you like, rather than the specific content. The fault was as much with us the regular posters as with your re-evaluation of the history. We had jumped the gun in treating the blog as a forum with as much dialogue from poster to poster as from poster to you.

    Finally we have the “Alternative side to the ownership mess” which in reality is a misnomer. No new facts have come to light and most facts we thought had been established are challenged. There are facts which are known to you but which cannot be disclosed. Doubt is cast on the reliability of press articles, web content (the Corinthians bankruptcy for instance). indeed all of the “conventional wisdom” on Hicks is supposedly unsoundly based. All that is achieved is a detailing of your view that we should fear the unknown (DIC or any challenger to Hicks) and ready ourselves for years of his tenure. And after all do we really know that debt is such a bad thing, perhaps we can convert Hicks from this LBO business and he will put us on a sound financial footing with manageable debt. All this despite demonstrating brilliantly in articles prior to mid March that Hicks is not worthy of the benefit of any doubt. Hicks, inconveniently, has gone even further and promised via the Joe Bernstein piece today that he will get the club out of debt by the time the stadium is built. Now there is a claim for you to contend with, £700m paid off in 5/6 years?.

    I know full well from match attendance that there are many fans who take little or no interest in this ownership business and simply want to go to the match on Saturday have a pie at half time and go back to reality for the rest of the week. There are also millions of people who don’t vote at general elections and are politically apathetic until something they cherish is taken away from them or threatened. Your call seems to me be a manifesto for such fans.

    Hicks, also, knows that in addition to these match-day fans there are thousands of others willing to fill seats if activists decide to vote with their feet. This is the type of acquiescent fan he wants just as he wants this quality in his employees, Rafa beware.

    Anyway I will take your advice and chill for a bit. As it happens I have an opportunity to get more directly involved in one of the counter initiatives and hope this will afford me a chance to do more for the future of the club than impotently banging my drum on web fora. I also have a self-build to occupy me and living on site might limit my web access to internet hotspots, and this only at the weekend. Best of luck with getting the forum established. Have a look back at those early pieces Jim you were never unbalanced, you were never partial and you attracted to the site a fascinating and fascinated readership with a cross-section of opinion but almost invariably a love for this club and a hunger for insight which was duly delivered in spades.

  2. Jim I forgot to offer you an explanation of my emphasis on this week. I was referring to the anniversary of our 96 fallen fellow fans and the lasting grief of their loved ones. Your fine piece went almost without comment and it just seemed to me that stoking the flames of controversy was inappropriate this week of all weeks. In fairness, as Texas-dawg kept reminding us, his mentor just wants to own a great sports club he isn’t too concerned at the preoccupations of the fans. Accidental insensitivity we should, perhaps forgive.

  3. I have to say a very good site, its been insightful to the whole scenario.

    But as a Non-Liverpool fan, who has just an interest in all this, I just don’t get why so many of you say this or that one is wrong. When to me you have only 2 people to blame for this mess.

    Moores and Parry yet they come of the cleanest, i just don’t get if I was a Liverpool Fan its these 2 I would be the angriest with.

    To me as an outsider it seems the sold out for there interests under the pretence of doing what was best for the club. Now they stand there saying we don’t like this, yet they made the mess.

  4. John, I don’t know anyone else who has used Hillsborough as a stick to beat Hicks with. It’s innappropriate to do so. Let’s not sink to those levels, to score points against anyone involved in all this. It started on Thursday and could have ended on Thursday, Friday at the latest, but many of those involved have kept it going. Let’s hope none of those involved actually use the anniversary to their advantage or take actions despite it. Instead let’s hope the anniversary causes those involved to reflect on what they are doing.

    One point I want to make regarding this change of stance is that I’ve not written anything with any other thought on my mind than of writing based on how I feel.

    I’ve seen some suggestions about me – on other sites moreso than on here – that have sickened me if I’m honest. It kicks the enthusiasm out of me.

    And I think one site had me down as being the person who leaked texts about the infamous letter to Sky. I don’t know who did that, but I think whoever did do that needs to look at themselves in the mirror and see if they can actually look themselves in the eye. Forget about the rights and wrongs of it being leaked to a “supporters group”, if a fan actually picked the phone up and told Sky about this letter then they should be ashamed of themselves. I’m not saying it wouldn’t have got out in the end, but would it have had the same impact had it been kept out of the media a little longer?

    Also I saw something about “liverpool friends” of Hicks Jnr being told weeks ago that Ian Ayre was lined up as replacement CEO, and the suggestion that “Liverpool friends” meant me. Whoever said that, first stop being so paranoid, and second don’t believe everything you read. The first I heard of Ian Ayre’s possible new role was in February.
    Here –

    Whether my views and opinions are right or wrong, they come from what I honestly believe to be the truth, or my own analysis of whatever facts I have in front of me. Someone who was constructive suggested I’d been overanalysing things. Perhaps they’re right.

    I’ve not got an agenda. Other than a deep desire to see an end to this mess. In fact my own view is that anything is better than the continuation of this freak show. You know my gut feelings on George Gillett, but if someone said we could see an end to this circus tomorrow by George Gillett becoming senior partner in a Gillett-Moores-Morgan consortium I’d take it. And I never was keen on Morgan. I wouldn’t like it, but I really don’t want this to eat into the close season. My big nightmare is that we’re sitting here this time next season with still no change in the ownership structure. Rightly or wrongly, that to me feels worse than the idea of any one of the candidates winning their battle.

    That just my view.

    I’m not deliberately stretching one point over another, and am certainly not making anything up, just to fit in with any pre-conceived idea of what I want for the club. I don’t bloody know what I want for the club!

    I’ve seen reports from some “LFC” journalists that do stretch one point over another to fit in with what they want for the club. They’ve made their minds up, and they emphasise what they feel helps their cause. I don’t fault them for that, at all. I don’t feel any of the “LFC” journos are writing what they write for personal gain. Some have had to fight editorial pressures to follow one line of thinking.

    I also know that some journalists are following a particular line because they are enjoying the scoops it brings them. One in particular springs to mind, but to be honest I’ve no idea how he feels about LFC, he’s not one of the names I was familiar with before this mess began. In fact I don’t think any “LFC” writers are putting themselves before the club.

    I think we’d all be better off if we accepted that there are a lot of different views, and as long as we don’t disagree with each other using abuse we should be able to discuss this.

  5. Two things:

    Thing one: whether or not this latest bit of sand between the buttocks (Klinsmann as an ongoing advisor to Hicks) is true or a fabrication by someone out to further undermine Hicks, my biggest concern is that it may push Rafa closer to his breaking point. He will feel humiliated or manipulated (or both) by his name and reputation being used as fuel for the fire. If he does stay after all this is over, it is surely proof of how much he loves this club.

    Thing two: in thinking over the various convolutions this week with the public disclosure of the letter to Parry; Parry’s reply; Moores’s interview; Hicks’s interview; and Hop’s posting the other day about possible management scenarios under each of the leading candidates to own the club…IF Parry is playing a more active part in undermining Hicks than he is acknowledging, there’s nothing to say that the net result will secure his job, so what’s his motivation? DIC want 100% ownership, so under their aegis Moores would have probably less authority to protect Parry than he does now. If what Hicks says is true about Parry’s management abilities, any new owner or consortium would call into question his right to the position. If nothing else (and again assuming Parry is an active player in this week’s mud slinging) wouldn’t Parry try to placate Hicks instead?

  6. You raise the questions Julie, what do you think?

    My view:

    Rafa really really wants to stay but if you’re being undermined at every turn, told you’re out of a job, then in a job…..for now, told to communicate (by email), but not communicate with the outside world (in any way) and have a CEO, who you clearly don’t respect, be in control of transfer deals he’s consistently dithered on….I think your pushed every closer to going. Add to that having your confidences breached by one of the owners in a letter released publicly is embarassing, at the very least, and grounds for constructive dismissal for sure. So will he stay? I’m sitting on the fence. I suspect he’s in 2 minds – though leaning towards wanting to stay…..but nagging him is what he said after the Newcastle game – when everything game to light ‘Do these Americans understand football in Europe?’ ie transfer dealings, the price etc..

    On the 2nd point. Parry’s not interested in Hicks. He didn’t know him before the deal was struck and doesn’t know him well now – and what he does know he doesn’t like. All was clearly stated in Moores interview of yesterday. (So Moores doesn’t like him either).

    Also, Parry is not Hicks’ kinda man. Some of these reasons he listed in his publicly released letter but largely, I think, it’s because Parry is not his yes man. Remember, rightly or wrongly, Parry had a CEO role at the Premier League before joining Liverpool – so he’s an operator and know’s the structures of the game inside out. The issue for Liverpool fans, as far as I’m concerned, is who do they trust out of the two? My monies on Parry, for now, although from what Rafa was intimating today, Rafa may have other ideas……….

    The perfect solution is for Hicks to leave (I’m still in no doubt that Hicks wants sole ownership to sell on to DIC to closer to his esimate. Nothing to do with being a ‘custodian’ of the club) and then for Parry to quickly follow.

    The problem is of course that Hicks really really doesn’t want to let go. I think, as Jim himself as indicated before in previous articles, the bully doesn’t like being bullied! Let’s hope our Spanish Matador stays inspite of the nonsense at the top.

  7. Jim,

    In answer to your question about “if i woke up and it was over and Hicks had taken over completely, would i be prepared to hear Hicks out and listen to his plan…

    Good question. The simple, quick answer is no. However it is a good question as in all honestly would still be keen to see what he claims is going to happen. But fundamentally, no matter what he said I wouldn’t be able to believe it. How could I after all the lies and contradictions thus far that we know as fact are his doing?

    For me the trust is gone and the faith shattered. It would take some very serious rectificatory actions on his part to convince me otherwise, actually, probably not even then. Honestly, I don’t believe that he has the correctly placed motivation or the financial capabilities to pull off such a series of moves. Like I say, he has to go on principle. This shouldn’t be overlooked either – I genuinely believe the thing that makes this club special is our integrity and how our actions encapsulate this word perfectly. Think about this for a moment…….. When you compare ourselves to other clubs there is something about the people of Liverpool and the manor and traditions in which we operate which is…well, special. I don’t see how now, after all that has transpired, we can even entertain the prospect of welcoming Hicks back into the club, EVEN IF he does manage to pull off the audacious (or ludicrous) claims that he has made today, it would be to turn our back on the very essence and heart and soul that makes us great and differentiates ourselves from the rest.

    I’d also like you to explain, if you can, the following response by yourself to my comment, as maybe i’ve missed something obvious or I do not understand…

    “They tried to sack Rafa and line up a replacement.” Jim: This seems to have stemmed from some intelligence received against Rafa by the owners. I say seems to, it’s interesting that this intelligence wasn’t given as a reason in the admission. I’d like to know more about that and if it was genuine intelligence they both still trust today, or if they’ve since realised the source might have had other reasons for speaking as it did.

    What is this intelligence you speak of? Where have you heard this from? The admission they gave was obviously the Real Madrid rubbish but what was this intelligence you think you understand, if you can explain this at all? and perhaps more pertinently who was the source. It feels like this is another thing you have heard on the never never, but like i say, maybe ive forgotten something obvious.

    Anyway, appreciate the comments again. Don’t feel too disheartened by people who take severe exception to your comments – better that than take what you say on face value remember?!!! lol.

    p.s thanks John S for your advice. and if you could let me know the secret to retiring early as you have done I would appreciate that too! lol.

  8. I haven’t read the responses to this article but the article itself is interesting coming from a passionate Hicks hater to somewhat of a skeptic now!

    I work in marketing and Intellectual property throughout Asia Pacific and have done for the past 2 years. My company is one of the largest in its field in Asia and as such works on behalf of 3 of the big 4 Premier league teams (guess which one we dont work for!).

    Ian Ayre was brought in to the club to try and boost the commercial activity of the club to increase revenues. This hasn’t happened so far, other than changing kit producer to Adidas. Why??? Is it because Parry is interfering too much or as the article says regarding other matters, he is not doing his job properly??? Parry has been with us a long time and can be credited with saving Captain Fantastic from joining the Chavs, but other than that what else has he successfully done for the club?

    In the words of a friend and Marketing Director of one of the big 3 “If Liverpool got their act together off the field, commercially and financially, then we would be worried! But as it is, they can’t even manage a piss up in a brewery!”

    To date, I am as is my boss, still trying to get Liverpool FC signed up! We could so much for them in the Asia market!

  9. Martin, I don’t mean to put words in Jim’s mouth so to speak, but this is what I think.

    Maybe I’m miles off the mark but I think the source of the intelligence against Rafa might have been Parry.

    I’m thinking this because events of the last few days have made me quite suspicious of Parry’s role in all this.

  10. Hop, it’s clear Parry has been bad-mouthing Rafa to the so-called custodians but it was the owners, or rather Hicks, who pubicly rebuked Rafa without Parry’s prompting making him look like a dead man walking for so long.

    For all of us, it’s the clear the top of the club is fractured and seemingly beyond repair. On that basis it’s time to jump into the frying pan – ie cautiously welcoming an alternative ownership – by leaving the fire – and that should be done as vocally and as quickly as possible……….

    I can’t believe that less than a week ago we’d actually beaten Arsenal in that game of immense importance. The current Board’s a joke!

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