An Unholy Alliance

Wednesday, 24 February 2010 ·

Something amazing is happening in the North West.  Born from a mutual hatred of uncaring, selfish and money-orientated owners two of football's biggest rival supporters, Liverpool and Manchester United, are on the verge of a truce in hostilities to join forces in a single voice against the ownership of American businessmen that have taken both clubs severely into debt and failed on promises made at the beginning of their tenure.
Manchester United are nearly £800million in the red (maybe the Americans think that if their team's shirts are red, then so should everything else!) which consists of £500million raised through a recent bonds issue that has only given the
Glazer's extra time to pay back the staggering debt, and payment in kind (PIK) notes, debt for which they are personally responsible taking the total borrowing to £716.5 million, are due to be repaid in 2017.  Payment in kind?  Isn't this just an elaborate name for an IOU note?  And these people call themselves serious businessmen?  I think the key question here is whether this is making a mockery of the values of football when a club can be bought with, effectively, monopoly money.
Liverpool's owners, Hicks & Gillett, fare no better in the scales of decency as they struggle to find investors willing to stump up at least £100million before the deadline in July.  Part of the agreement of last year's refinancing demanded the investment of £100 million by this July before a longer refinancing agreement could be put in place with money released to begin work on the (needed) new stadium.  Without the new stadium, Liverpool Football Club look in danger of slipping out of the top four, unable to compete on a financial playing field with the other Big-Four clubs.  Although a 60,000 seater stadium suits a big London club like Arsenal where prices are very high, for a club from the North with traditionally lower prices (which fits the socialist policy of the great Bill Shankly) is a 60,000 seater stadium enough for Liverpool to compete with Manchester United whose stadium holds over 76,000?
Plans to stage the joint protest at the game at Old Trafford are currently at the discussion stage and, reportedly, will probably be limited to protests within the ground due to the history of animosity between the two clubs, if it happens at all.
Whatever the outcome, this joint show of strength from two rivals shows the level of disappointment that fans currently feel towards the way their clubs are run by owners that do not understand the footballing side nor the history of their respective clubs and is a step in the right direction for all football.  But with some clubs being mismanaged to the point of farce (Portsmouth and Notts County to name just two) and the authorities seemingly powerless or reluctant to do anything about it, is it now time for football clubs to be handed back to the communities from whence the beautiful game emerged and hand ownership to the supporters?

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Written and edited by Graham Matheson, a Liverpool and Deportivo La Coruna fan.
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