New England Sports Ventures buys Liverpool (or My Team As A Soap Opera)
The previous owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, did their utmost to scupper the deal, and ensured that their names will live on in infamy on Merseyside. They are now, in Dr Evil style, suggesting they want $1.6 billion in compensation.
But, in the meantime, there is relief that the club is in a much stronger financial position, and has avoided the administration that Hicks and Gillett very nearly plunged it into.
It has been a sad week. Football, or any sport, should be about competition, athletic excellence, rivalry and fun. It shouldn’t be about court cases, or businessman trying to leech money from loyal and dedicated supporters, via a club that is an integral part of its community. This week has resembled little more than a horrid, impenetrable soap opera. This isn’t what sport should be about.
Liverpool appear to be lucky. They are unlikely to be the last club who has to go through such battles. Many clubs are badly managed, or subject to leveraged buyouts. Many more clubs may sink into administration. It surely is only a matter of time before a big-name club goes under. Already, many smaller ones have. As a say, for all the drama, the Reds have been fortunate.
What is the answer to this situation in football? I’m afraid I don’t know. If an entrepeneur has enough money, enough clout, or good enough lawyers, they will probably get around most measures authorities put in place.
Maybe clubs and their supporters should be less naive. Fairy godmothers don’t exist. Stability is a prerequisite of success. Throwing money around is a risky option, and offers no guarantees.
I’ll reserve judgement on New England Sports Ventures. Their previous track record is good. Looking at their achievements with the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park, I’m encouraged, yet can they transfer these skills to another sport?
They will certainly face intense scrutiny. They might speak the right language, of listening, of collaboration with fans, of long-term investment, but it will be their actions that count. The team needs fresh blood. The stadium needs expanding, at the very least, or a new stadium needs to be started very soon.
There is a long way to go yet.
Meanwhile, this weekend sees the Merseyside derby. What a shame that a marquee fixture has been overshadowed. Let’s see the comeback start on the pitch. The uncertainty surrounding the club is over. For now.