Once bitten, twice shy: A fan's take on the Liverpool takeover saga
At the end of a storm, is a golden sky.
These famous words from Liverpool’s famous anthem, has become a prayer for the fans. Last season’s spectacular free fall, especially after being 4 points away from the title in 2009, qualifies as a storm that has rocked the club. Not just on the field played a part, events off the field were equally distressing, if not more.
As the world cup got over, and pre-season began, uncertainty was the only constant in the club. Then the good news started trickling in. The new manager landed Joe Cole, a coup. The heart and soul of the team, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres committed themselves to Liverpool. And then, news of potential movement in the process of selling the club appeared. Which looked good in the beginning. Promising.
And here is where all the fans must stop. And not get carried away. Caution!!!!
For the fans, so easily cheated last time when Hicks and Gillet took over after many convenient lies, there is no way they can dissect and analyse the bids from their homes. How the people in charge failed to see past the lies, lies and more lies! Last time the club was sold was unbelievable. Yes Hicks and Gillet were wealthy, but a google search would tell you what their track record of owning sports teams were terrible. At this point of time therefore, the fans are hoping and praying that the men in charge show half as much passion that they have for one of the greatest clubs in the world.
Lets look at the stories of bids that have come through.
Keneth Huang’s reported interest is exactly the type of thing Gillet and Hicks were born to oppose. The owners have made it clear that their sole intention is to earn a major profit. This declaration of intent has to be the only time they have spoken the truth. The reported takeover plan focuses on buying out the loan and using the resulting leverage to oust the pressurize the owners and not give them the parting profit they undeservingly expect. The source of funds for this bid is unclear now, but the fact that Huang has bypassed the two owners in negotiations so far is something that would delight the Anfield faithful. Reports suggest that this offer could be the best, as it would practically have the backing of China, along with massive scope for major deals by entering into the massive Chinese market, which is yet to be fully tapped.
The other player, Syrian Yahya Kirdi, has announced that he is in the final stages of talks and that a price has been decided. With whom? Yes George Gillet. Reason enough to distrust him? That’s probably going too far, but no Liverpool fan would be disagreeing with it at the moment. That is the amount of distrust the fans have. The fact that Kirdi is also a good friend of Gillet Junior doesn’t help. Many suggest that this bid and the public statement is a stalling tactic, aimed at delaying the potential Huang takeover. Only time will tell, but like I said, anything with close proximity to the owners just doesn’t sound good enough.
Usual stalling tactics apart, it wont be surprising if things get dirty. Hicks and Gillet also pay their way through false articles and the kind about the individuals or companies they don’t want to sell to. Isn’t it justified for fans to be cynical in such an environment?
Martin Broughton is a reputed profession. He was brought in to oversee the sale. Christian Purslow is the CEO. And more importantly a vote in the board. Both of them, at the end of the day, were handpicked by the owners. Cynical again, yes, but how unfair is to to criticize the fans for not trusting anyone remotely linked with the Americans. The truth however is, the fans have to trust them. Because they don’t have a choice. The club is at the mercy of sharks.
The best bid might not be the highest bid. From what has been gathered through the media, the Kirdi offer seems to be the highest, and hence unsurprisingly finds support from the owners. But whether they will have the resources for sustainable investment in the long run is suspect. There is a sense of caution here because in 2007, Gillet and Hicks did exactly this. They had a sizable offer accepted, but dint have anything to fulfill the promises. The stadium completion date incidentally was August 2010.
The news of Gerrard and Torres committing are welcome, but however important that might be, the main story is yet to break. Gerrard and Torres’ presence would affect the next few years. The new owners will write Liverpool’s future. Way beyond those few years.
‘Once bitten, twice shy’ is not a cliché for nothing.