New Year, Old Problem: Hicks & Gillett Out

Another day, another splurge of inglorious headlines. Liverpool Football Club has become a soap opera; only events on Merseyside are now so outlandish they make the equivalent on Albert Square seem tame.

The latest round of shenanigans surrounds Tom Hicks Junior’s vulgar repost to an inquisitive letter from Liverpool supporter Stephen Horner. Always the gent, Mini-Me politely informed Mr. Horner to ‘blow him’, this before branding him a ‘f*** face.’ Oh, and just for good measure, he then suggested he ‘go to hell’ as way of a send-off. Nice.

Hicks, who resigned in light of his best Eminem impression, forgets that he and Big Daddy have already confined our fans to purgatory.

Tuesday, 6th February 2007 will forever go down as a dark date in LFC history. Unbeknownst to any of us back then, this was actually the day Liverpool would begin a slow death. So brash, so brazen, so full of bull, most of us were suckered into accepting the PR stunt that was Hicks and Gillett. And how we’ve paid the price.

David Moores’ decision to sell to Dumb n’ Dumber rankles alongside the signing of Djimi Traore as the worst in modern times. And though Moores, a proud and loyal man, no doubt deplores his misjudgement every day, his spurning of a rival bid from DIC has effectively crippled Liverpool.

Their very presence has mirrored a cancer, spreading insidiously throughout the halls of Anfield and eroding all that Bill Shankly had previously laid.

Broken promises, in-fighting and the small matter of a £350m debt has floored this once great club, which now finds itself on the brink of mediocrity.

Failure to make the top four this term will bring with it catastrophic fall-out. Despite claims to the contrary, the club will have no choice but to auction-off its prized assets. The running of affairs is dependent on a Champions League income. The chasm between that kind of revenue and a Europa League equivalent is monstrous. Retaining the services of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard without it is as likely as Tiger Woods staying faithful.

That European Cup berth is pivotal and a monumental effort is required to secure it. Fresh impetuous would obviously aid the bid further. But while our rivals branch out for quality in depth (Vieira etc.) we are shopping in the sales, debating whether to cough-up £1.5million for Maxi Rodriguez.

And it breaks your heart. The true fans, who have followed this great side through thick and thin deserve better. But we are powerless. Instead, we are forced to endure performances teetering on scandalous, displays indicative of a club going through the motions.

The manager is not without fault but realistically his hands are tied. With no alternative but to wheel and deal this transfer window, Rafa Benitez resembles a pauper in a rich man’s playing field. Tottenham, Villa and City all boast financial clout usurping our own. In fact, so do Birmingham and Sunderland. The only saving grace is we’re not Portsmouth, yet.

What nobody can fathom is why the American duo are hell-bent on staying put. Each is loathed, neither has any real funds to invest and the creditors are likely to come calling. Though publicly seeking outside investment, all interested parties would be put-off by the megalomaniac that is Hicks and his insistence on remaining in some capacity.

Nevertheless, the lies continue apace. Managing Director Christian Purslow has supposedly promised the local council that work on a new state of the art stadium will begin in earnest, March being the target. That’s like me telling my parents to sort all wedding arrangements as I’m tying the knot with Cheryl Cole next week.

He has absolutely no foundation for making such predictions.

If, amazingly, renovators do occupy Stanley Park within weeks, how are we expected to fund the project? Loans no doubt, adding yet further weight to a perilous debt.

During a stage-managed apology Hicks Jnr today insisted he had the utmost respect for the club’s fans. If that were the case, a systematic reply to concerns highlighted in Dominic King’s Echo column would have been forthcoming, not a sick, childish tantrum.

The truth is, neither he, his dad, nor their long line of disgraced business partners have a clue about Liverpool Football Club and its traditions.

The latter is a beacon in millions of lives; it provides hope in times of adversity and evokes continual pride. It resembles a religion, not merely a business in a colourful portfolio. It has never and will never be a franchise.

The sooner this merry band of comedians realise that, the better.


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