18 April, 2008

You'll Never Work Alone

Less than a week before Liverpool are due to face Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals, still the backroom beef is ongoing, with co-owner Tom Hicks describing chief executive Rick Parry's time at the club as a “disaster.” Last week Hicks called on Parry to resign, but the former Premier League chief, still backed by co-owner George Gillett, rejected the demand. With 50/50 owners Hicks and Gillett no nearer to resolving their battle for control, and Parry and team manager Rafa Benitez also failing to see eye-to-eye, off-field issues are in danger of engulfing the club yet again.

Speaking for the first time since rumours of a falling out between the two American co-owners reached the press, Hicks told Sky:

“Look at what's happened under Rick. It has been a disaster, we have fallen so far behind the other leading clubs. We should have the stadium built by now. We have two or three major sponsors when we should have 12 or 15. We are not doing anything in Asia the way Manchester United and Barcelona are, and we have a tremendous number of fans in Asia. We have still got the top brand in the world of football but that's no good if you don't know how to commercialise it. Rick needs to resign from Liverpool FC. He has put his heart into it but it is time for a change. You have to be able to work with the manager and Rick has proved he can't do that.”

The Texan also revealed he plans to rid the club of all debt by heading up a group of financial backers willing to invest in the club. This comes as news broke today that the club may be forced to sell Ryan Babel and Fernando Torres after problems paying back their loan surfaced. As explained expertly by The Spoiler, Premier League clubs usually fund purchases through television income, but Liverpool made the unusual step of borrowing the money from banking institutions to pay for their two big imports last summer. Therefore if they fail to pay back their outstanding balance and accumulated interest in time, it’ll be bye-bye Babel and farewell Fernando (sorry). This would surely be the last straw for loyal Scouse fans who must be sick to death of this playground bitching and histrionics by now. Torres especially is the Kop newest hero, and in just a season has risen alongside Gerrard as a talismanic figure for Liverpool. If he was forced out due to monetary dealings and paperwork then you can’t help but feel that the two Americans would have an actual mutiny on their hands.

At the end of the day, this situation is symptomatic of the franchise mentality of foreign owners, and their insistence on ‘branding.’ Don’t get me wrong, I am not averse to investors from abroad taking over football clubs, but at the end of the day, football clubs are different from American sports teams, who lack any local anchor or identity. Football teams are not businesses in the traditional sense, and foreign owners must appreciate this, let alone the on-field impact their boardroom turmoil can make manifest.


Lee (La Liga Review) said...

Great Site.

I'm a little confused about your attitude to branding though mate - and thats probably more to with my typing with a hangover than any inconsistency in your post.

But at one point you complain that the club has failed to maximise its brand exposure in emergent markets - then later you criticise foreign owners and their emphasis on the club as a brand.

If you are wanting to go down the route of trying to cash in on the Liverpool brand in the far east and risk revenue from global supporters becoming more important than local ties - you cant really complain about foreign owners talking about brands. Or can you?

STT HQ said...

Hi lee mate thanks for getting in touch, glad you like STT

my own stance on branding is a bit up in the air really, just cos my own team isn't actually in the big leagues so it isn't an issue, but what i was getting at in the article was off-setting Hicks' comments (i.e. he thinks liverpool aren't taking advantage of their image enough) with my own natural instincts that english football clubs shouldn't be thought of purely in terms of . your average liverpool fan doesn't care about opening shops in asia, only on field results, and when the branding and 'business' side starts to effect the football, then fans understandably kick off

think that makes sense? anyway man, like i said, thanks for your comments and keep sniffing!


Lee (La Liga Review) said...

Cheers for the reply -I think you've cleared it up. And yes, I shall keep sniffing!

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