FRYING PAN, CHECK… FIRE, CHECK

January 23, 2008 |

Legendary Liverpool coach, Bill Shankly, said this of boardrooms: “At a football club, there’s a holy trinity – the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don’t come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques.” And he won. A lot.
In the past, the philosophy was one of stony and stoic silence from within the ranks. It was the hoisting of trophy after trophy that spoke the loudest for Liverpool Football Club. Now all we hear is the din of marketplace fishwifery.  
You would’ve hoped that this PR debacle had pretty much run its course with Tom Hicks solemnly vowing not to sell his half of the club to the Dubai group and now insistent that the deal for the stadium funds is all but done. But it hasn’t.
Fresh “evidence” has surfaced in an interview from last August with an MLB website that Tom Hicks had designs on using LFC profits to bolster his Rangers and Astros franchises. Obviously, regardless of context, it has done nothing to quell the already acid anti-ownership sentiment etching itself into the streets of Liverpool. Current polls show that 90% of Liverpool fans want the American duo out. And as these newer, freshly-buried bodies are exhumed they really have no one to blame but themselves.  
Fans, very accommodating fans, with Liverpool Football Club inexorably seared into their DNA sit and watch what has become a lamentable Boardroom rescind on grandiose promise after grandiose promise. The Kop faithful have patiently sat and watched as SAF’s blank check-fests have corresponded to title after title. They have sat and watched, mostly in silent anguish, as perennial ne’er-do-wells like Chelsea, City and West Ham get what they need from new, foreign and very much involved owners in order to challenge for titles that were once, pun intended, out of their league. They have sat patiently through an 18-year domestic title hiatus with some fairly mediocre managers.
And so, understandably, the tacit and latent impatience that has been slow to boil is bubbling over. The stadium isn’t the Holy Grail. The 19th league title is. LFC has played its football at Anfield for 124 years. Another one won’t make a difference. And this is where G&H have failed most – they have no sense of priority. Had Rafa been given enough of an allowance, as was expected, to be able to shop exclusively at Tiffany’s and not mostly at Wal-Mart this may well have been a different campaign.
But impatience is the least of the current ownership’s problems. This is a group of supporters that will mutiny. This they must know. With banner (“If it’s not broken don’t Hicks it”), with voice (‘They don’t care about Rafa, they don’t care about fans, Liverpool Football Club is in the wrong hands’) and step (the 2000 man march) they have sworn their fealty to Camp Benitez. And why not. Barring a few minor hiccups in a two-loss season, he has done it mostly by the numbers for the Liverpool contingent this year. He’s still in Europe and the FA cup is there to be had.  
Perhaps packing their emperor’s new clothes in their Trojan horse might be the best decision the new owners could make. They’ve made more than enough bad ones.

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