Saturday, June 12, 2010

Keep On Pressuring RBS

To keep on the pressure in getting rid of the two cancers, fans could print out the letter below and add in whatever they feel about the whole mess clouding our club and post them to the RBS address and C.C.s. Good luck!

On the same note, fans could also download the latest effort simply described"We have taken the pride, spirit and revolutionary message of this song and adapted to the plight that Liverpool fans find themselves in at the current time. All profits from this single will be sent directly to aid initiatives to the education of fans to the end of ridding ourselves of the morally bankrupt ownership we are suffering from at present." here

The T-Shirt with "Standards Compromised' will also be in the offing soon. Let's show the leeches that we mean business!


John Hourican
Chief Executive, Global Banking and Markets
36 St Andrew Square
EH2 2YB 

Distribution list:
cc. Suneel Kamlani, GBM
cc. Marco Mazzucchelli, GBM
cc. Alan Dickinson, UK Corporate
cc. Mark Catton, UK Corporate
cc. Roger Lowry, Head of Public Affairs
cc. Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State BIS (1 Victoria Street London SW1H 0ET)
cc. Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State, Sport (2-4 Cockspur Street London SW1Y 5DH) 

Dear Mr Hourican 

I wish to convey my ongoing and extreme dissatisfaction over the management of the RBS loan facility provided to Tom Hicks and George Gillett, that continues to prop up their catastrophic ownership of Liverpool Football Club. 

I am not a member, but the supporters union, Spirit of Shankly, one of the most vociferous opponents of the current regime, recently ran an billboard advertising campaign targeting the ownership of the club that used the appropriate tag line “Debt, Lies, Cowboys”. I am going to unashamedly borrow that line as a structure to this letter. 

As you know, the club’s debts as of last July stood at £351m, of which £237m constitutes the loan facility provided by RBS, the remainder being in high-interest intra-company loan from Hicks and Gillett’s offshore holding company, Kop Cayman. These figures may have changed slightly over the past 11 months since the accounts entered into the public domain, but no additional investment has been secured by the owners, and there remains no doubt that the overall debt is escalating to a point whereby negative equity will very soon come into effect, if not already a reality. 

In addition to this, the club’s ongoing ability to service such a debt has become highly unsustainable. Improving sponsorship income is relatively insignificant, and the only measure which could have significantly supported this level of borrowing - the building of a new stadium - has not in over 3 years, proceeded beyond architectural renders, the apparent cost of which, an obscene £50m, has also been put on the club’s balance sheet. Against this backdrop of unserviceable loans and gross financial misconduct, it is therefore no surprise that the club’s auditors, KPMG, have for the second year running raised red flags, expressing “[i]material uncertainty about (the club’s) ability to continue operating as a going concern[/i]“. A damning indictment that instigated the Premier League to demand that the club’s newly-installed Chairman, Martin Broughton (more on him later), appear before their Chief Executive and Board of Directors in person to provide verbal assurances that the club would in fact be able to meet its fixture list for the forthcoming 2010-11 season. Leaving aside the embarrassment, it is not difficult to see the Premier League’s perspective. The phrase “living hand to mouth” springs to mind. 

Forgive my stating the obvious to a senior professional banker at this point, but it is purely to set up and illustrate a point. Like any borrowings, the conditions for obtaining a credit facility of this type is based on the financial background of the individuals in question, their existing commitments, the value of the purchased asset, and in the case of refinancing, I would imagine their recent history and behaviour when it comes to servicing the existing loan, and any others held by them. Which brings us to Tom Hicks. 

Liverpool fans and credible media (both UK and global) are clear in that Tom Hicks tells lies. The list is a long one but here is the latest relevant example, provoked by the condemnation by the club’s former Chairman who deeply regrets selling to Hicks and Gillett. You can view it online at the following URL, together with valid deconstruction, here:,-Tom-Can).html 

So, in addition to his established propensity for lies, l wish to address the basis for the latest extension of the RBS facility, which was conditional on the agreement that the club be officially put up for sale, with Hicks conceding to step back from the process in order to realise a quick transfer of ownership. This agreement was ratified by the appointment of the aforementioned Martin Broughton, who has confirmed that his is a short-term part-time role, the sole remit of which is to find and approve an appropriate buyer for the club at a fair market price. It is not difficult to assume therefore that his appointment was at RBS’ express request, via an intermediary third party. “Within months” was Mr Brougton’s statement on the timescale for sale, upon taking up the position in April. 

However, since then, there have been numerous interview quotes from Hicks, arrogant and belligerent as ever, claiming that irrespective of the ‘For Sale’ announcement, he will continue demand up to a totally unrealistic £800m for the club and that he is willing to prolong the situation and take up to two years to sell. He is even boasting in the US media about how profitable Liverpool FC will be for him, all bluster designed to divert attention from the harsh reality that he is in financial dire straits and has been for some time. These comments are clearly a stark contradiction of those reassurances he provided the RBS with, and thus render them meaningless. Like us, the fans, you are being lied to. It is not difficult to surmise that Hicks’ agreement to sell was simply a ploy to obtain ‘breathing space’ - which you duly obliged with, at least verbally - in which to further his agenda of financial pillage, possibly even petty revenge (on the fans who have rightly not allowed him to act without accountability, the “terrible personal price” he often complains about) but ultimately a desire to seek personal profit whatever the cost to the club, or its creditors. 

Talking of creditors, what surely must be of even greater concern to the RBS, is the eerily similar situation Hicks finds himself in with his US sporting assets, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. In April 2009, Hicks willingly allowed both clubs (operated by Hicks Sports Group) to default on $525m loan, a premeditated decision that Hicks himself insisted was a “negotiating tactic” designed to force the banks to renegotiate the terms of the loan. I must try that line myself next time I wake up one morning and take a sudden dislike to my existing RBS mortgage rate, the one I happily agreed to on signing. In fact, I would be, quite literally, betting my mortgage on the outcome of that particular conversation. 

Not content with just that small matter of defaulting on a half-billion dollar loan, Hicks has now, as of a few weeks ago, forced the Texas Rangers to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, following a protracted and now stalemated sale process. Sound familiar? It gets even worse, as although the Rangers owe $540m to their creditors, (the majority secured against the club, the remainder against, yet again, Hicks Sports Group, another part of Hicks Holdings LLC, the onus being on the ‘limited liability’ aspect) under the terms of the sale (preferred one of the two deals offered) that Hicks is trying to force through, it seems the creditors only stand to receive $230m of the $540m the club is being sold for. This has been extensively covered in the US media and the facts verified. In which case, if I was sitting in the RBS’ shoes, I would have extreme concerns about Hicks attempting the same financial sleight of hand, and asking myself exactly what tangible assets the £237m loan I’ve provided is actually secured against, given the paper trails of Hicks’ myriad of limited companies all end up offshore and with zero personal liability. Yes, there is ‘the club’, but the owners are continuing to asset-strip (sales of high value players required for ongoing success and Champions League income, and the recent sacking of a highly-respected manager who was outspoken in his condemnation of Hicks and Gillett’s ownership), siphon off funds and are unwilling to provide or accept additional investment, all the while the value of the club is depreciating along with the chances of realising the repayment on your loan capital. 

It should also be worth noting that latest reports this week state that Hicks has yet again blocked any sale to two separate potential buyers, simply on the basis of his wholly unrealistic asking price. This adds considerable weight to the already strong opinion that, unlike his co-owner George Gillett, Hicks has no intention of wanting to sell the club. His asking price is said to include added valuation for the future revenues generated by a stadium that he failed to build, and that a new buyer will have to pay to build instead, a stance that is as bizarre as it is illogical and which therefore represents an insurmountable block to any sale, now or in the future. 

Essentially, these actions speak, in fact, shout of a man whose shameful conduct and objectionable character raises deeply concerning questions about RBS’ continuing exposure on this £237m loan and subsequently, a very real threat to the continued existence of Liverpool FC in its current status as one of Europe’s leading football clubs. This latest agreement for refinancing for up to 12 months, ostensibly to allow a sales process to go through unimpaired and without pressure, serves no-one’s benefits except Tom Hicks. What will be the excuse when he, as his history and substantial current evidence suggests he will, sells off the prize assets, and files for bankruptcy as per the Rangers, leaving the club in terminal financial decline or worse, and with the RBS, the club’s major creditor out of pocket? Not to mention, the wider political consequences at allowing this to happen unchallenged. Do not underestimate this last point, as this matter is not an isolated one (the Glazer family’s ownership - £1.2bn of debt’s worth - of Manchester United for example) but as with the banking crisis that forced RBS to seek government bailout, you will unfortunately be viewed as culpable through negligent inaction and held to account. 

And so to the crux of my expression of disgust and request for action. Aside from the financial hand grenade that is currently being juggled, the RBS and its majority shareholder HM Government have both a collective financial and moral responsibility to ensure that such a prestigious UK global export is not driven into unmanaged administration and ruin by the stubborn and irresponsible actions of two US nationals, one of whom in particular has a clear agenda and is leveraged up to their neck in debt. By providing yet another loan extension and/or refinance in order not to influence a sales process (one that Hicks is clearly not committed to), the RBS and HM Government are therefore willingly complicit in this unfolding disaster, a fact which will not go unnoticed or unchallenged. I am aware the Bank has provided the club with day-to-day banking services for many years long predating the arrival of Hicks and Gillett, and I only hope that this long-term relationship engenders a mutual desire to see financial stability and success. 

Fortunately, there is still an opportunity to halt this seemingly inexorable decline. This can be achieved by withdrawing any existing agreement to extend the loan effective immediately, essentially foreclosing on the loan to Hicks and Gillett (as Kop Football Ltd) secured against the club. Informal short-term administration by any other name, would I assure you be welcomed by all Liverpool fans, if it ensured the removal of the current owners. This action would then allow Martin Broughton to facilitate the sale of the club quickly (there remains many interested buyers out there at a realistic market price, as Barclays Capital will attest) under your mandate without veto or negative interference from Hicks. 

By doing so, you will be sending out a strong and positive message about supporting UK interests, corporate prudence and cleaning up financial mismanagement, a message that all addressed recipients of this letter, both at the RBS and the new Coalition Government, would surely benefit from given their own past events and the current financial climate. I’ll sign off with an unfortunate but apt analogy using another Liverpool-related world famous entity. This is a last chance to steer a footballing Titanic hard to starboard to avoid a looming and malevolent iceberg and towards a bright and prosperous future. Actively ensuring the ship keeps to its current course, however, is not an appropriate action and history will judge the RBS accordingly. 

I implore you on behalf of fellow Liverpool stakeholders, please act now in the best interests of the club and indeed yourselves. 

Yours faithfully, 

(name withheld)
Former shareholder of Liverpool FC=

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