When the Glazers took over Manchester United, ‘mourning’ was probably the most appropriate word to describe the reaction of the fans. When walking around Cardiff on FA Cup final day not longer after the takeover went through, there were United fans in all black, showing the loss we all felt for our football club.
The debt was a big issue, although lots of us believed, and still do, that we’re too big to do a Leeds. That if the worst came to worst, something or someone would help us out. The most pressing concern was that these people who knew nothing about our club, who saw us as nothing other than a means for them to make more money, who didn’t understand our history, who didn’t know the way the fans worked, who couldn’t appreciate how much our club mattered to us, were now our owners.
For some fans, the idea of a Glazer-lead United was too much, which saw the birth of FC United. Whilst that club isn’t for me, the feelings which enabled FC United to be created should be deep within all of us. There are some fans didn’t turn to FC, but instead refused to line the Glazers pocket, by refusing to go to Old Trafford. Our club wasn’t really our club anymore, not in the way it used to be at least, and that was absolutely gutting.
When Liverpool FC were bought by some Yanks a few years later, the reaction was entirely different. Not only did they escape feelings of devastation, the majority of them were actually happy! Yes, they were pleased that Hicks and Gillett had bought their club.
Their situation was different to ours, which can’t be ignored. We’d enjoyed years of success without needing some foreign owners to help us get it, whilst Liverpool had to sit in our shadow and watch us win title after title. So, their desire to get money is understandable. But to get money at any cost? Aside from the debt they too have been put in, why on earth would they want the people who have made a career of owning American football teams: the Dallas Stars and Texas Rangers, and ice hockey teams, and a rodeo championship, and a NASCAR racing team, as the people who could now call Liverpool FC ‘theirs’? Surely it’s fairly obvious they collect sports teams and they don’t give a fuck about them, as long as they make money, so why wasn’t that setting the alarm bells ringing? So desperate to bring back the glory years they don’t care how it is done? Is that really where football is at now?
Whilst despising Liverpool, it’s clear they are the only team like us in this country, with a rich history, whose team have dominated English football, and whose fans have been bonded by tragedy. How can any fan of a team like that put money for big transfers ahead of the foundation of their club? How can anything be worth having greedy Yank owners who make their hobby and business out of collecting ‘sports franchises’?
In order to back up my claims of fan support for the Yanks, I had a look at two popular Liverpool FC sources. Tomkins writes for the official Liverpool site on occasion and has brought out several Liverpool related books and Kop Blog is the highest ranking Liverpool FC blog on the internet.
Paul Tomkins Blog: I approached the arrival of Hicks and Gillett with an open mind, and gave them the benefit of the doubt following some impressive soundbites when taking charge, and allowing Benítez to finally sign an expensive world-class player in the summer.
Paul Tomkins open letter to Hicks and Gillett: When you took over the club there was a surprising amount of goodwill. I don’t mean surprising in that I felt at the time that you deserved anything less, but surprising in that any new owners could perhaps have expected a rougher ride. As fans it seems our patience had been worn down with almost three years without a solution to the investment issue, and a series of desperately unsuitable suitors chancing their arms. Compared with Thaksin Shinawatra, you seemed a good bet.
This is Anfield Kop Blog: All in all these two seem to be a perfect fit and have the necessary funds and experience in the right areas to really make this club a force to be reckoned with both on and off the field. This deal has brought us everything we could have hoped for.
This takeover has received a cautious welcome by Liverpool fans and there are a few who don’t seem to welcome it at all, but I have to say, I’m delighted. As far as I’m concerned, we’re a damn sight better off now, then we have been for many years. I admit that no matter who took over, I’d be saying that we’ve got to support them and give them a chance. However, I really like these guys.
They are winners and I’m excited about the future of the club in their hands. So I welcome Mr Gillett and Mr Hicks and I truly believe that with the club in their hands, the future will be bright, the future will be RED!
Things have gone tits up for Liverpool FC since then though with the really bad news on their financial situation being revealed this week. Hicks and Gillett borrowed the money to buy the club, just as the Glazers did, and now they can’t afford to pay it back. They took out a £350m loan to cover their initial takeover and by January of this year they had spent £313m of it. The club has already had to pay off the £36.5m interest on that, their holding company made losses of £42.6m last year, and the plans for building them a new stadium are postponed indefinitely.
Whilst it’s easy to get smug about this, given all the shit we’ve been on the receiving end of thanks to the Glazer takeover, something none of us wanted, I feel angry more than anything. Their fans talk about us being in their shadow (something which is harder for them to argue now that we’ve equalled their 18 titles) but is there anything so small-time as their welcoming of these Americans? I expected this kind of shit from Manchester City, who were all loved-up with their “human rights abuser of the worst kind”, but not Liverpool. I don’t mean to be too praiseworthy of our wretched neighbours, but surely they should be bigger than that? I know there were some Liverpool fans who were against the takeover, but by and large, it was party time in Merseyside when the Yanks rolled in to town. It’s a sad state of affairs. Whilst maybe it’s not Liverpool I’m sad for, or pity, there is certainly a depressing feeling about all the money problems in the game, and it is more likely that it is for football that I feel a loss.
Essentially though, Liverpool don’t deserve the sympathy or pity from anyone because of their attitude since the takeover. Have their fans learnt from their mistakes? When things started taking a turn for the worst with their American owners, as talk of Rafa’s sacking mounted, did the scousers realise the error of their ways? Did they realise that being owned by people, who don’t give a shit about your club and don’t have any understanding of the deep feelings inspired in thousands and millions of people, is a really bad idea? Did they fuck. I hope they do a Leeds and they’ve only got themselves to thank for it, as they will be bending over and taking it in the arse from anyone who offers them money and a chance of being a force in England again.