Stand by for operation Anfield exercise

We used to conduct our affairs in-house, with dignity and were accordingly commanded respect in the football world for doing things “the Liverpool way.” Unfortunately the current shambles has long since removed any standing we had as a model for how other clubs should run their affairs and in a society where the every detail and word is dissected in minute detail, we are currently being held up as the example of all that is bad in the Premier League. The media are having a field day of course and we have become a very convenient place to put the boot in for every pundit, ex-footballer, journalist and hack columnist who has any sort of an axe to grind.

Amidst all this of course we’re all craving for calm, stability and some vestige of light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel. Various campaigns and strategies have been employed in attempts to rid us of this ownership scandal and we are being told, for example that the email attack on the Blackstone group had a significant effect on their decision not to get involved with the Hicks refinance strategy.

I would like to think though, that the spirit and determination of all our efforts is seen as a good thing by potential suitors but it is essential that we do not alienate them with perceived negativity and then become part of the problem.

Liverpool's Chief Executive Christian Purslow (R) smiles as he takes his seat next to Commercial Director Ian Ayres (L) before their team's Europa League third qualifying round soccer match against Rabotnicki Skopje at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England, August 5, 2010. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS SPORT SOCCER)

Amidst endless rumour and counter rumour then, at last we had a belated response courtesy of the interview given by Christian Purslow in, hopefully, cutting through the crap and answering the queries we all have regarding the state of play. The cynical amongst us will perhaps cite that it was stage managed in a pre-rehearsed P.R. exercise, whilst optimists may well be carried away with rose tinted glasses that all is well after all. I take a stance roughly in the middle in that I believe what cannot be disputed was that all the right questions were asked and that he answered them all without dodging the issues. I still believe that integrity exists and posture why would the man risk his long term position by making unsubstantiated claims or telling lies that would inevitably come back to haunt him? We must surely always give the man the benefit of the doubt because, after all, he is our chief executive and if the day ever dawns when we cannot trust our man in his position, then it is time to give up football.

Quite where the negativity towards him came from other than, of course, the “differences” in the minutes of that meeting with the S.O.S. lads, I don’t know, but he certainly comes across as competent and confident. On face value, he is not the yes man to our owners that he is being painted in some quarters and my impression is that he is arguably more qualified than most in the position to do his best for the club with his c.v. and business acumen You have to concede that purely for business reasons, he simply cannot divulge everything regarding the critical and sensitive nature of state of play involving the negotiations, but he still gave us enough to at least sleep a little easier. His comment regarding “if you are reading about it, then it probably isn’t real” will probably still not stop the rumour mongers talking bollocks, but it more or less confirmed my gut feeling all along that any likely suitor will only go to the press if they are just looking for self publicity and we have certainly seen evidence of that.

Under the circumstances I believe he came across in the right manner and in terms of business jargon, said all the right things to placate the situation. Perhaps the most important revelation was his admission that a “small number of potentially interested parties” were indeed doing the due diligence process, so the scare mongers in the media depicting doom and gloom for us will need to find another candidate for their doomsday scenario.

Liverpool Fans Protest in the Kop End after the final whistle Liverpool 2009/10 Liverpool V Sunderland (3-0) 28/03/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Predictably, he was able to use the forum to rebuff that personal criticism from some quarters in the way he responded to some of the questions. Furthermore, he was definitely seen to be cementing his position without actually undermining his working relationship with the owners, however fractious that may have become. He will surely want to come out of this unscathed, with the mandate of leading us into a new era when this bad dream is over, so in exercising the delicate art of diplomacy, I think he kept onside with the fans whilst ensuring he was not being tarred with the same brush as the owners. Indeed the best example of this was the revelation that, with the latest watershed date looming, his admission that the non-owner board directors “would not want to see” any attempt of refinancing the debt to cling on to power. Whether those carefully chosen words are enough to give us 100% confidence that they can firewall the owners is another matter, but at least the will is categorically there.

His role in the summer retention of our senior players, if true, cannot be understated and it is the widely accepted now that it was his forays in the transfer market and not that of the manager (albeit he was armed with uncle Roy’s wish list). By and large then, he has brought in some notable acquisitions, though the jury is still out on Konchesky, but there looks to be quality in the others, even though they have not as yet shown the form we all hoped for. Nevertheless his role has been (and more significantly will be) pivotal in getting us out of this disastrous mess.

So after the third of three interviews (following from the other two wise men, Ayre and Broughton) my take sees us metaphorically swimming against the financial tide but with our head held just above the water, buoyed by increased profitability, but in desperate need to get to the shore before the tsunami of debt sweeps us all away.

The three of them seem worthy adversaries to outnumber the owners in getting things on track, but if they fail, we all fail.

In a seemingly endless sequence of pivotal dates, we find that this watershed is looming on October 6th (or whatever date you believe from the media) when another crucial deadline expires. The malaise over the club at the moment is tangible. The performances on the pitch seem to be inextricably linked to the ownership fiasco off it. None of us know the outcome but surely we would like to think that we are coming to the end of this nightmare now. Allegedly we are approaching what the Americans call the end game now. God forbid we have to carry on with nothing changed into the new year and we have more of this shambles to endure. We can only hope that suitors are indeed waiting in the wings until the last possible moment to buy the club at the lowest possible price when out fabled owners are literally at the last chance saloon.

“The wrong sale is worse than no sale” was an assertion made in the interview by Christian Purslow. God knows I wish that advice would have been followed by David Moores when he took conceivably, the worst business decision of his life, in selling the family silver to those two “likeable” Americans.

Bizarre times, indeed, to be a red.


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