SOS møter Premier League

Supporterunionen Spirit of Shankly (SOS) møter Richard Scudamore hos PL denne uka, hvor de vil spørre hvilke krav en kan stille til klubbeiere. Ny henvendelse til Martin Broughton.

SOS bekrefter at de vil ha et møte med daglig leder Richard Scudamore hos Premier League denne uka. På møtet vil man spørre hvorfor tidligere og nåværende adferd, og måten man driver andre sportsklubber på, synes å ha liten relevans til reglene hos Premier League. Det samme når det gjelder å lyve overfor selgere og supportere av en klubb. Det hele er som man forstår myntet på Liverpools eiere Tom Hicks og George Gillett, og man vil også gjerne vite hvor de to siste regnskapene på Anfield står i forhold til de styringsreglene som man har i Premier League. SOS undrer seg over hvorfor PL bare sitter på gjerdet og tillater at situasjonen i i LFC bare forverres. Unionen henstiller til PL å innføre et regelverk som gjør at en klubb slipper å måtte ønske eiere som Hicks og Gillett velkommen.

I et brev før møtet, som vi har gjengitt på originalspråket under, viser man til at Tom Hicks og George Gillett flere ganger tidligere har gått konkurs, og de løgnene som ble servert ved overtakelsen.

SOS har fått et svar fra Martin Broughton om at han ikke ønsker å møte en supportergruppe men gi svar til fansen som helhet, og at han svarte på spørsmål fra SOS under et intervju med LFC TV. Helt nederst vil en også se responsen som Spirit of Shankly har gitt på dette.

Brevet til Premier League:

The Spirit Of Shankly, the Liverpool Supporters Union, was set up following the growing anger and upset at how Tom Hicks and George Gillett were running our club, how they had reneged on the 'promises' made when purchasing our football club.

It is due to our present owners that I find myself contacting you now. Liverpool FC is a club rich in history and tradition with a legacy unrivalled around the world. Yet supporters, the true owners and custodians of the club, find themselves worrying about off the pitch matters, which a financially prudent business is supposed to manage, and those who run the game are meant to regulate.

Please cast your mind back to February 2007, when Tom Hicks and George Gillett took charge of Liverpool Football Club, presumably they will have been subject to the Premier League's 'Fit and Proper' persons test. Just what exactly were Tom Hicks and George Gillett asked at the time? What checks were made about their background and suitability to own our Club? Are they 'Fit and Proper' when the following are considered:

  • Tom Hicks' past dealing with the Brazilian club Corinthians. His involvement at Corinthians, as part of Hicks Muse Tate Furst's partnership with the club, is what many of Corinthians fans blame for their subsequent financial problems. Tom Hicks said “We all collectively take guilt for bad decisions’’. Banners at Anfield today ask for Tom Hicks to leave the club, something Corinthians fans were asking many years ago ( Why did the Premier League not know of this, nor learn a lesson from his previous enterprises?
  • Hicks Sports Group, Tom Hicks' company which owns the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars defaulted on $525m worth of loans last year which resulted in the Texas Rangers having to seek a loan from Major League Baseball (governing body for the sport).
  • Both Hicks and Gillett have been made bankrupt on several occasions. Should their track records not set alarm bells ringing?
  • Four days after the Hicks and Gillett takeover, former employees of Viasystems Tyneside Ltd protested at the Newcastle v Liverpool game. They have yet to be paid redundancy money they were promised. Viasystems Tyneside, controlled by Viasystems Group has a chairman we all know - Tom Hicks.
  • Tom Hicks at the time of the takeover at LFC stated - "This is not a takeover like the Glazer deal at Manchester United. There is no debt involved, and we believe that as custodians of this wonderful, storied club we have a duty of care to the tradition and legacies of Liverpool." The takeover is in fact identical to that of the Glazers at Manchester United. Do lies to supporters and those selling the Club have no implications for governance by the Premier League?
  • George Gillett at the time of the takeover at LFC stated - "The shovel needs to be in the ground in the next 60 days or so, and we would intend to follow that. I think you'll see the beginnings of a great big swimming pool being dug out here in Stanley Park relatively soon". This was over three years ago now, and we are still now, no nearer to a swimming pool, let alone a new stadium.
  • The debt on LFC is now at a staggering height. Before Tom Hicks and George Gillett the Club had a debt of £44 million. Within months, this had risen to £350 million and it currently stands at £237 million. The hollow promise of no debt is only beaten by the lack of regulation or protection given by the Premier League.

The result of Premier League inaction and negligence is that the Royal Bank of Scotland has made an express requirement that the Club reduce the debt by £100 million forthwith. As a result, LFC finds itself hawking for investment, threatened with action from its bankers if the debt is not reduced. What is the Premier League doing about protecting one of its most prominent members?

It is Liverpool Football Club's current predicament and the Premier League's criminal silence on these issues that has prompted me to contact you. Liverpool Football Club now finds itself being 'touted' around looking for someone to come in and pay down the debt with a £100 million investment. So far one bid has been submitted from the Rhone group and with the deadline for offers fast approaching. We may find ourselves forced into inappropriate investment, rather than finding suitable investment.

I demand that the Premier League conduct a vigorous 'fit and proper' person’s test of any new investor, considering they are expected to take a controlling stake.

I demand that subsequently you regulate in a much more vigorous way to ensure that any future investor keep any promises to protect all football clubs and the game that you regulate through binding undertakings to be given to the Premier League.

For instance, if it is the Rhone group who are to take a controlling stake in our Club, I would ask that you take account of the following:

  • As part of their involvement at the clothing company, Quiksilver, Rhone loaned Quiksilver $150m at an interest rate of 15% (7.5% of this being payable in kind (PiK)). All for a possible return of 20% of the company's shares as well. Do you consider that the terms of any investment has any relevance to any the decision of them being considered 'fit and proper' to run a football club?
  • John Muse (of "Hicks Muse Tate Furst" and also blamed for the demise of Corinthians) is believed to be involved. How would such a person pass a 'fit and proper' persons test?
  • As a Hedge Fund, Rhone work with other people's money. How does this fit with the role you have to regulate who is "fit and proper" to control a Premier League football club? Will you be asking for the identities of those whose money is being used? After all, anyone can front money, but not make the decisions.

Supporters are rightly concerned. Spirit Of Shankly sent several questions to Christian Purslow, Managing Director at LFC about the proposed investment. Two weeks on, there has been no response, just more worry with newspaper headlines speculating on my club's future. Why are fans having to ask these questions, and fight to protect their club rather than you, the powers that be?

We are not the only club suffering from owners with broken promises, poor finances, or outright liars in charge. What we want to be, is the last.

The Premier League, with its interest in protecting its brand, and being "ownership neutral" is damaging the game. The supporters, like myself, who make this game what it is, are unhappy. Will you listen? Will you answer our questions? I would ask that you do, as if not, our fight and our protests will come to your door.

Ask yourself this - If you don't act now, what brand will you be selling when clubs are bankrupt, fans have walked away and the game lies in tatters?

Yours sincerely

Spirit Of Shankly

Brev til Martin Broughton:

Dear Mr Broughton,

Thank you for your response to our request for a meeting, however, your reply, and your answers on, only leaves the Union's members with further questions.

You do, in your reply, make reference to the various supporters clubs who are a source of support for the team and the Club. Whilst the Spirit of Shankly and its members are dedicated supporters of Liverpool Football Club, it is fair to say that our remit, purpose and those we have dialogue with, are very different from the more traditional LFC supporter's clubs.

These differences, defined in our constitution and in our stated aims and objectives, mean that not only do we exist to represent the interests of our members, but we are also intent on calling to account those who influence the future of Liverpool Football Club to ensure as much transparency as possible in the dealings of the Club, both in its search for new owners and in its dealings with all supporters. As an organisation, we are also seeking democratic involvement in the future running of the Club to ensure supporter interests and a regard to the history of LFC are considered at all levels.

We have previously met with former Chief Executive Rick Parry, current owner George Gillett, as well as Directors Ian Ayre and Christian Purslow to ask them direct questions and to outline our views and express our concern regarding issues that effect the club, particularly with reference to the current owners, and their intentions, but also regarding issues which directly concern all supporters such as ticket prices and allocation and the new ground.

As an organisation, our desire to see the Club develop in the most appropriate way has led us to hold meetings with representatives of Dubai International Capital, with Supporters Direct, the supporters' trusts initiative, with local and national politicians and the Football Supporters' Federation. We also have a meeting scheduled with the Premier League this week to discuss the ownership issue.

Locally we have the support of Steve Rotherham, the newly elected MP for Walton and Joe Anderson the Leader of the City Council, and we are one of the organisations involved in the concept and development of the Football Quarter.

Our view is that we, and hopefully those appointed to oversee the future of the club, are working towards very similar aims, primarily the best future for Liverpool Football Club. We think the views of our members specifically can best be represented by honest, face-to-face dialogue between interested parties which is the reason we are also liaising with organisations such as the Premier League and Supporters Direct.

Whilst previous meetings between ourselves and senior figures at the club have not always been reported honestly by the Club we believe that a continued dialogue is essential, and beneficial to all parties to answer genuine fears and concerns of supporters regarding the Club's current perilous financial standing and its future.

Whilst we appreciate your remit is to ensure a sale of the club, we, as a Union, have a commitment to our members to hold whoever owns the Club to account. We have campaigned long and hard to have Tom Hicks and George Gillett to leave the club, and whilst the 'For Sale' signs are up, they still remain as owners. If there is one thing Liverpool Football Club has been famous for in the past, it is an appreciation of its fans, and its history and a reliance on the 'Liverpool Way'.

Whilst this may not be the case at other Premiership Clubs, many Liverpool fans, whilst appreciating the changing nature of football, still hold dear the values of honest and up-front discussion and that is all we are requesting from you.

We hope that you would reconsider your decision to meet with us to discuss the issues and concerns we have.

We look forward to hearing your reply

Yours sincerely

Fran Stanton