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The foreign owner cycle needs breaking PDF Print E-mail
Written by TurnstileB   
Thursday, 04 February 2010

When Roman Abramovic signed on the dotted line to take control of Chelsea, the reaction wasn’t just Ken Bates rubbing his hands together in glee, but nineteen Premier League clubs put the ‘for sale’ signs out.......

Now, six and a half years later, the aftershocks of the last decade’s obsession with foreign owners are still being felt.

 The correlation between money to pump into football clubs and success has been evident since the late 1880s; since Darwen FC paid two Scottish players in 1870 to be more precise. From Everton’s Mersey Millionaires, Manchester United Plc taking advantage of their global fanfare, to Walker’s millions giving Blackburn an unlikely league win, the need for a healthy bank balance to be successful isn’t a new phenomenon.
Nor are the business vultures viewing supporters as cash cows, infiltrating football for financial gain a new found thing. But the 2000s will go down as the year of the foreign owners, of clubs whoring themselves to all corners of the World, all the hope that there was another Abramovic just waiting to waste money with big money signings.
Fans the country over have donned tea towels on their heads to celebrate the arrival of the newest saviour in English football. The Kop had the now infamous gloating banner gleefully declaring “for everything else there’s Tom and George”. Other than a banner in protest to the proposed Thaksim Shinawatra deal, every deal Moores and Parry told us was on course gave hope. We, like every other club post-Abramovic wanted the money, and in the main didn’t care where it came from.

All this of course is nothing new. Column inches, internet bandwidth and radio airwaves have been filled with fans of all club decrying their respective owner(s). The foreign invasion has turned sour for all; the tea towels have been put away. Bar Aston Villa, Birmingham (still in the early stages), Chelsea, Manchester City and West Ham (just completed) every Premier League club’s fans want their respective owners out. Below the Premiership, Notts County have fell for investor’s promises of success and are now a manager down; Newcastle fans continue the backlash against the crass Mike Ashley.
So what does acknowledging we’re not the only ones fucked mean towards our own saga?

Well, the pattern since Abramovic changed the landscape of the game and had chairmen and chief executives scrambling the World for their club’s sugar daddy has been a predictable one. New owners comes in to much fanfare and nice sound bites, fans lap it up, owners go back on their promises and fans see the hardnosed businessmen underneath the club scarf, fans left with unpopular owners, former chairman sits on nice profit. Repeat ad finem.
So why, despite the fact the end of our own fight can not be taken for granted, are we not keeping one eye breaking the cycle? Pressure on the owners does work, as seen with the resignation of Hicks Jnr, the majority of fans now in the ‘Yanks out’ camp and various other victories for the hard work of the SOS. Yet, whilst the establishment of the Spirit of Shankly group was being debated in the Sandon, away from the World’s media and an inhouse affair, another group, ShareLiverpool was being presented to the World at a news conference followed by yards of column space. What has happened?

There are people I’m sure working behind the scenes to ensure fans are ready to step in, but a highly publicised campaign would surely allow fans time to get the money together. The original plans were hit with ShareLiverpool’s ridiculous £5,000 per share, alienating the section of the fan base they should have been appealing to. If the Yanks had their hand forced by the banks surely this “same as a second hand car” figure could be reduced to a more realistic one?

It is of course getting ahead of ourselves in the extreme to be looking at life after Hicks and Gillett when we’re yet to get rid, but we’re still putting all our eggs in the ‘tycoon with a love of Liverpool, the fans and losing money coming in and saving us.’ We cling to the hope that a now bankrupt Dubai will come and save us because a member of their consortium had a liverbird as his screensaver. The recent Christian Purslow interview with the SOS only serves to emphasise the point – the Yanks are clinging on, and are a swift kick away from falling.

But the last efforts from the SOS to orchestrate a campaign to let the Royal Bank of Scotland aware that continuing their association with H&G was met with apathy from some quarters, who argued that the Reds would be in administration – surely the Americans defaulting on the loan and RBS refusing to play will leave two desperate shysters and a lower price?

It seems that in terms of this horrible, drawn-out saga, we are at a crossroads. Pressure on the RBS may lead to a scramble of money men looking at acquiring the club on the cheap, but it could also give an organised fan base the opportunity to break the foreign owner cycle that has become so common in the last decade.
One thing is for sure, that sugar daddy with a love for the club is not going to step in. Keeping pressure on the Yanks is paramount, but without getting ahead of myself is it also time to look at how to prevent another Hicks and Gillett rolling into the boardroom?

 © TurnstileB 2010


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