Sunday, 12 September 2010

Football socialism and once again reaching the summit of Europe

One of my other great passions (other than trying to get the UK out of the EU) is Liverpool FC. Today they came to Birmingham to play the Blues and I went along. It was an insipid performance from the boys in red and if I'm honest, they were lucky to escape with a point after a 0-0 draw.

Liverpool have an illustrious history and are still the most successful English team of all time, truly Gods gift to football. However, recent times have been difficult without a major honour for nearly five years. The major problem lies not necessarily on the field but in the boardroom.

Liverpool's current owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett are American businessmen with a history of owning American sports teams and supporting George W Bush. They purchased Liverpool for £300 million in 2007 borrowing the money against assets of the club, making Liverpool the third English Premier League team to be owned by Americans. There was not uproar as was seen when the Glaziers bought Man Utd on similar financial terms. Maybe because it was hoped that they could bring the financial muscle to compete with utd and Chelsea. They also promised to push forward and finance a new stadium. Most of all they promised to respect the traditions of the club. In my opinion and probably that of every Liverpool fan they had no idea about the club, what it means and symbolises to half the people of Merseyside not to mention millions across the world.

Liverpool is the most socialist of clubs, it's fans have a sense of ownership, it is like a religion. Legendary manager, Bill Shankly Encapsulated this at the 1965 FACup Final. A policemans horse trampled a fans scarf. Shankly pushed the horse and the policeman aside and said "You don't ever show that kind of respect to a Liverpool scarf. That's somebody's life, son."

During the late 1970s and through the 1980s the city suffered terrible economic hardship with the docks closing, the decline of the automotive industry and related industries. The city was also being abused by a loony left council, a laaaabouuuur (kinnock) council. Simultaneously, Liverpool become the most successful team in Europe with one of the lowest admission prices of a top flight club. (I became a season ticket holder for the kop in 1988 at the cost of £65.) the team was the pride of Merseyside. The disastrous events at Hillsborough in 1989 where 96 people lost their lives once again showed the relationship between the people and club. The following day it opened up the stadium to the fans and within days half the pitch was covered with flowers, scarfs etc. The Sun newspaper attacked Liverpool fans, blaming them for the tragedy whilst removing the blame from the police where it really laid. Sales of the newspaper plummeted and still in 2010 the Sun does not have a strong foothold in Merseyside.

Under the Americans ownership the club has been mismanaged and it's relationship with the fans has become strained. The royal bank of Scotland hold all the cards and are refusing to reschedule the clubs debt. The Americans have put the club up for sale but their asking price is far too high. An effort has been made by fans to buy the club with fans each pledging £5000. I am one of those, me part of a socialist endeavour! This is unlikely to be successful but we need to get rid of those Americans and the cloud hanging over us. We need a new stadium and investment in new players to restore Liverpool to where they belong, the summit of English and European football.

I lived in Liverpool for two years, I love  the city, team and people. Hillsborough still hurts and makes me angry to this day. Liverpool is an emotional ecosytem with a delicate banlence of history, tragedy, and resilience that has sustained an entire city. It is them against the whole world. Hicks and Gillett made themselves the world and their in way over their heads