Monday, June 14, 2010

Another letter to be sent out

To:

Richard Scudamore
Chief Executive
Premier League
30 Gloucester Place
London
W1U 8PL

cc.
David Sheepshanks
Acting Co-Chairman
The Football Association
25 Soho Square
London
W1 4FA

cc.
Roger Burden
Acting Co-Chairman
The Football Association
25 Soho Square
London
W1 4FA

Dear Mr Scudamore,

I wish to express my increasing concern regarding the conduct of Martin Broughton, recently appointed as Chairman of Liverpool Football Club.

Upon taking up the part-time role in April 2010, Mr Broughton confirmed that his remit was purely to facilitate the sale of the club on behalf of the current owners. Acting in conjunction with investment bank, Barclays Capital, it was made quite clear that his role was limited to reviewing and making recommendations on potential buyers. Furthermore, as Chairman, it was also made explicit that he would not be involved in the day-to-day running of the club or making operational decisions, deferring those responsibilities to the existing management team headed up by the Managing Director, Christian Purslow, himself a temporary appointment whilst the club sought a long-term replacement for former Chief Executive Rick Parry.

As you are no doubt aware, Mr Broughton has always been open about his strong personal allegiances to another, rival Premier League member, Chelsea Football Club. Many Liverpool fans, whilst initally sceptical given such an admission, were nevertheless prepared to cautiously accept his personal inclination, given his very specific role and his ‘day job’ as Chairman of British Airways plc (BA). We had trust that he would act in a manner befitting the role of Chairman, respectful both of his duties and the confidences they afforded, and ultimately, to act in the best interests of the club. His statement in May 2010 that he felt it unwise to attend the forthcoming Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC, was also seen at the time as understandable albeit a little disconcerting.

However, that initial scepticism seems to have been valid and has taken on greater significance following a recent report in the Times: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/premier_league/liverpool/article7140751.ece.

Having stated he did not think it wise to appear in public attending that football match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC, it therefore beggars belief he felt no such compulsion or crisis of conscience about accepting a subsequent invitation to attend Chelsea FC’s private party to celebrate their Premier League title. Not only did he happily attend the event, mixing with executives and club officials, but he is alleged to have made ‘off-the-record’ comments to a Sky journalist and broadcaster present that contradict his official stance on the sales process at Liverpool FC, and worse, made specific insinuations and references to Liverpool’s most valuable player, Fernando Torres, glibly suggesting he may leave due to the state of the club. I suggest to you that these remarks - not withdrawn or denied - are both wholly unprofessional (in circumstances not entirely dissimilar to the damaging Triesman affair) and represent clear evidence of a serious conflict of interest given his position at Liverpool FC.

There is also the matter of his official involvement in the very recent and somewhat controversial dismissal of Liverpool’s manager, Rafael Benitez, a long-standing outspoken critic of Liverpool’s owners. Suggestions that he was only communicating on behalf of Christian Purslow are no longer valid given he has now confirmed his direct involvement in an email to Jim Boardman, who runs an independent fans site, AnfieldRoad.com (on which the email is published). In addition to restating his primary remit (the sale of the club), Mr Broughton confirmed he was involved in the dismissal as it was “a matter for the Board”. This is contrary to his non-involvement in operational club matters that he claimed upon appointment. Either that original statement was deliberately false, or he has acted in collusion with Christian Purslow (who, it should be noted, shows no sign of ceding his own temporary role, despite having failed in his primary objective to secure investment, and having interviewed no candidates for the CEO position that would render his own job redundant) to terminate the contract of a manager for political purposes. The role of Chairman is not something that he can apply when and where it suits him to do so. Mr Broughton’s additional comment in that email that the decision was largely ratified by the media as some sort of justification, is at best, extremely na├»ve or at worst, utterly disingenuous. Again, a comment that raises serious question marks about his perceived integrity and credibility in general.

You may quite reasonably feel this is very much an internal matter for Liverpool FC, not least given the current ownership welcomed his appointment. However, I would remind you that both the Premier League and FA have a regulatory responsibility to maintain the integrity of the game, and where necessary police clubs and individuals involved with clubs, in order to safeguard the interests of the sport. Both organisations are very clear on potential conflict of interests when it comes to clubs, players and agents, and I see no need reason why that policy should not be extrapolated and enforced in this matter. Let us not forget the controversy and disrepute that Peter Kenyon was involved with following investigations into his involvement in transfers towards the end of his tenure at Manchester United whilst in discussions to join Chelsea. Suggestions of questionable moral conduct by association also tainted him at Stamford Bridge, for example the Quest report into unlicensed agents. Then there is David Dein, who was also subjected to similar controversy and accusations of conflicting interests given his dual roles at Arsenal and the FA. Ultimately, the game’s executives must be beyond reproach, a criteria that Mr Broughton has even in such a short time, evidently failed to fulfill.

Whatever his credentials at BA, Martin Broughton is very far from being an experienced football executive. He was appointed only to provide a credible and reputable business figurehead with whom potential buyers for the club could comfortably enter into discussions with (in stark contrast to owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett). However inexperience is not an excuse for ill-judged and questionable conduct. And so I would call upon you to investigate this matter and strongly consider a motion to censure his conduct. Given the circumstances and his comments, I would hate to think what the potential ramifications would be if, for example, Fernando Torres was sold to Chelsea this summer. Improper or not, it would be seen as a transfer potentially involving corruption given Mr Broughton’s access to confidential contracts and his own personal loyalties, and any failure for you to properly investigate such a proposed deal would be highly damaging to the game in England, and consequently the Premier League’s reputation globally.

I ask you, therefore, to act pre-emptively and in the first instance, investigate this matter by requesting Mr Broughton answer these deeply-held concerns (held by the vast majority of genuine Liverpool stakeholders I might add) regarding his allegiances and agenda, and for you to report as such via reputable media outlets. At the very least, it will serve as a welcome reminder to Mr Broughton as to his wider responsibilities and duty of care as chief representative of one of your high-profile members.

Yours faithfully,

(name withheld)

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Don’t forget to add a note with your own grieviances and most importantly….
Get everyone you can on this. To win - we need the numbers.

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