When Tom Hicks showed up to buy our beloved Liverpool Football Club, he and his miniature partner George Gillett seemed to be ‘the best a man can get’. They definitely knew how to talk to talk: making promises about financial backing and money available to buy “snoogy doogy” gave them some initial popularity; their talk of safeguarding the history and legacy of our great club endeared them to some, and at least eased the concerns of some of our more skeptical fans.
However we soon discovered that these promises were vacuous and (as they say in Texas) we quickly realised they were as full of wind as a corn-eating horse. They quickly back-peddled with their talk of signing “snoogy doogy” turning to caution against spending like “drunken sailors”, and their persistent reference to our club as a soulless “franchise” didn’t earn them too many friends either.
But that said, we weren’t going to bicker over vocabulary. If they wanted to call it a franchise, we might not like it, but being Americans, it was easy to understand – that lot tend to speak funny.
I for one gave Hicks and Gillett the benefit of the doubt, figuring that even if their number one motivation was making a profit, then being astute business men (as we were led to believe), they would quickly realize that the best way to make money off the field is to win trophies on it, and the only way to win trophies on the field, is to invest in talented players to compete with your rivals.
You can imagine how my heart sank when I read the following quote ascribed to Hicks:
“This business has to do with fan affinity and brand devotion. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with winning.’ [Link]
Compare this attitude to that of our previous owners. The man whose family had owned the majority of the club for generations, whose family hailed from Liverpool and who knew what an honour and a priviledge it is to be involved with the greatest club in the world:
“Liverpool Football Club exists to win trophies. It has no other purpose” ‘“ David Moores.
These words echoed the sentiment of the man who made our club great, the legend Bill Shankly, whose statue’s plinth reads: “Bill Shankly – he made the people happy”.
Even our previous manager Gerard Houllier, whose fortunes on the field faded despite having a large transfer budget once said:
“Our job is to make the fans happy. When we win, 45,000 people go home happy. When we lose, it not only affects them, it affects their cats.”
So to now have someone in charge who sees our club as a franchise and an opportunity to make a quick buck (despite having failed to make a success in previous forays into the world’s favourite sport – see the Brazil saga here, it is no wonder that many of us now regard the week of February 6th, 2007, when the Hicks and Gillett buyout took place, as a very dark, sad period in the history of our club.
I thus propose that all Liverpool fans attending the home match vs Sunderland on Saturday February 2nd, 2008 wear black and wave black flags to mourn this terrible anniversary. The Americans have recently released a statement suggesting they will not be looking to sell their stake in our club, so it appears we are stuck with them for some time to come. But we must register our protest, and make it quite clear that we detest their lies and mismanagement and see their involvement with our club as a putrid canker that we are unable to rid ourselves of.
Let’s not tear up any season tickets, let’s not part ways with the club we love – as the United fans did when the Glazers took over. We MUST continue to support our club through thick and thin, regardless of the fools who have sullied our holy city with their evil presence. Through the wind and the rain, we sing each week, and while we will continue to support our club, we must publicly register our discontent with these idiots, and wearing black as we mourn that fateful day a year ago will send that message loud and clear.
Tuesday, February 6th 2007 was indeed a day that will live in infamy for many years to come.