Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why we must rally to make a difference

Something else that sums up the problems nicely:

Stand to.. and prepare for a long-un…

Rest assured that WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

There have been several articles in the media about the email/letter campaign. There’s the Bloomberg article Kinny posted in #420 and there was an article in the Echo today.
http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-fc/liverpool-fc-news//tm_headline=royal-bank-of-scotland-turn-up-the-heat-on-liverpool-fc-owners%26method=full%26objectid=26697601%26siteid=100252-name_page.html

The headline reads: “Royal Bank of Scotland turn up the heat on Liverpool FC owners”
… yet there is in fact, absolutely nothing in the article that does actually suggest that RBS is doing anything…
… in truth it is just a short article wrapped around their email response to the letter campaign.

But at least it is media coverage of the situation… and RBS won’t do anything unless it gets a lot more coverage.

Look forget all the smoke and mirrors lads. Businessmen love to make simple things look complicated.
It creates an isolated world where the money that is out there can only be had by a few instead of by everyone.
But basic business is really rather simple and our current situation really comes down to a simple maths equation.

G&H have put NONE of their own money into the club.
They purchased the club with a loan from RBS.
They then refinanced that loan for a larger amount.
They used the club as collateral.
They have siphoned off money during their tenure.
RBS does NOT make money when the club is sold or the loan is paid off.
They make money when the loan IS NOT paid off… …every day it isn’t paid off.

£110,000 per day, every day the loan IS NOT paid off. 

That’s £110,000 per day, every day the loan IS NOT paid off. 

One more time… £110,000 per day, EVERY DAY the loan IS NOT paid off. 

A quick sale therefore, in spite of their claims, is NOT in RBS’s interest.

£800 million is a joke, and NOT realistic.
But The Yanks know this!
(by the way most American Reds I know call them the Yanks too, so it isn’t a derogatory word towards all Americans! Its called “context” people.)

Contrary to popular myth, G&H are NOT stupid, idiots, morons, etc.
G&H know £800 million is a joke, and NOT realistic.
They KNOW this!
Its smoke and mirrors bullshit so people are talking about that and not the REAL figures of debt involved, and the nature/structure of that debt.

£800 million is the starting price for negotiations so they don’t get low-balled.
“I’ll give you 5 quid for your bike.”
“Nah I want 15.”
“Alright I’ll give you 7”
“Make it 12”
10 quid and that’s my final offer”
“Deal!”

G&H will be looking to clear as close to £500 million as they can (since the debt is actually closer to £461 and NOT the continually ill-reported £271m)

They’ll make a few bob on the sale, at that price, but like RBS, G&H are MAKING THEIR MONEY EVERY DAY the club is NOT sold…
… by virtue of a loan made to the club, by their parent holding company Kop Cayman. 

The longer the “sale process” drags on, the more money G&H make, and the more time G&H have to siphon more money off the club.

So it is also NOT in their interest either to effect a quick sale.

Martin Broughton is a Temp.
He’s probably getting paid by the week, or month, with a bonus on completion of task…
meaning he makes more money if the sale process takes LONGER… not if it happens quicker! 

Purslow is a G&H appointment (and also possibly on a temp contract if some reports are correct,) but either way… there is a very good likelihood that any New Owner would want their own man at the helm.
So it isn’t in his immediate interest to see a quick sale.

The players… well… simply put… the players will be plying their trade… on lucrative contracts … somewhere… regardless of how all this falls out.

That just leaves US…
…the Fans.
The ONLY one’s whose interest IS promoted by a quick sale.

So that is a really long-winded way of saying…
… anything we can do to put pressure on RBS to effect a quick sale…
… should be done.

“But why would they sell quick, if as you say, they are making money every day the club is NOT sold?” I hear you say. “Why would they listen to us?”

Well, as their “press release” indicates, they wouldn’t… coz there is no negative effect on them as a financial institution if we complain, then take their fob-off explanation, and then do fuck all.

BUT… if we continue to put pressure on them, we can perhaps affect their bottom line.
Government run they may be, but they are a business, and a business is about the bottom line. 

If RBS senses they can continue the current arrangement unaffected, they will do so. 

If however, they stand to lose money elsewhere (via people pulling their accounts) or suddenly find themselves the target of a negative media, or even being publicly painted with the same brush as G&H, then that can affect their bottom line (perhaps other businesses pulling their affiliations with them?)

THAT is the only way we can make a difference. 

And THAT is how we could have made a difference when G&H took over.
But the simple facts are… we all wanted a sugar Daddy.
Nobody (well very few,) were accepting of the status quo and there was a clamor among the fanbase for a sale to new owners.

Hell… at one point, we didn’t even care that some fucker with a list of human rights violations pending against him was the go-to-guy!

The Yanks were largely welcomed with open arms…
… and no one wanted to know about Corinthians and such…
… and that information was raised, but largely… near completely… ignored.

Remember when the Klinssman rumors surfaced?
The fans marched en-masse?
There was a public outcry and better than 75% of the fanbase vocally supported Rafa.
THAT is why G&H backed down.
It is the only reason.

It was simply easier and more cost-effective for the expedition to continue through the jungle with the thorn in their side, than remove it and risk the lions smelling blood!

Arthur you say, fans couldn’t have done anything about G&H taking over…
… but had 75% of the fanbase marched on Anfield in opposition of G&H, as they did over Klinssman…
…it would have created an atmosphere where two thoughts, just might have, sprung to the front of the mind…

The first in the addled brains of G&H…
“Fuck this. These fuckers aren’t passionate, they’re mental. This shit is more trouble than its worth.”

The second in Moores and Parry’s pea-sized-brains…
“Fuck this, let’s go with DIC, or we might not get out of town alive.”

But the fanbase welcomed G&H, in spite of the “franchise” and the “global brand” and the “brand loyalty” slip-o-the-lips.

We heard what we wanted to hear “custodians of the club” and “spade in the ground” …
…as we were looking over our shoulders at the Chavs and Scum disappearing over the horizon…
… and, either not noticing, or completely ignoring, the pale skin, the blood stained shirt, or the slight stench of death, we said “we don’t give a fuck who you are and we don’t require a background check, just come on in.” and invited the Vampires into the house.

When G&H ousted him, 50% of the fanbase had grown anti-Rafa…
… but that 50% (aided and abetted by a very anti-Rafa media,) made its voice heard as though it were 75%.

That 50% almost completely ignored the circumstances of the last 5 years and certainly the circumstances of the last year.

There was a building frustration… And it provided the atmosphere in which G&H could do, what they’d been wanting to do, since the day they took over.

Fire the Mexican help!

It was what they’d been waiting for…
…that is why FS takes the position that those in the vociferous anti-Rafa camp are complicit…
… and I’m sorry if you were in that camp, but whatever your reasons for being there, you were in some measure complicit, because of the simple failure to understand that being pro-Rafa, (for the last 6 months,) really meant being pro-LFC and Anti-Owners.
(and by that I mean strictly having the forethought to be anti-current-predicament.)

…but that atmosphere was created…
… and it released G&H from the only shackles that held them from doing what they wanted…
… and make no mistake…
… one of Purslow and Broughton’s primary objective’s was “find a way to get rid of him.”

… it remains to be seen where that leaves us all…
… but our actions or inactions…
… our Unity… or lack thereof…
…… WILL play a part…

…… how big a part?
… well, that’s up to US. Each of US. ALL of US!

Aitch@Kopblog

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Good Article on Gloom on LFC

Fans forgotten, troubles extended

Posted on May 9th, 2010 by Andy Heaton

By Andy Heaton and Jim Boardman.


Fears amongst Liverpool supporters that the appointment of Martin Broughton was little more than a ploy to buy more time from the banks certainly won’t be eased following Sunday Times revelations that the latest loan extension from RBS was for a full 12 months.

New chairman Broughton was ostensibly brought in to facilitate the swift sale of the club, a sale in his words that should be completed in “a matter of months”. If fans believed him (and a few did for a short time, until reality slapped them in the face again) there’d have been something to finally celebrate in a season no Liverpool fan has enjoyed. But the likelihood of that happening at Torres speed looked extremely slim following a report in the Wall Street Journal claiming Tom Hicks still expected the club to sell for up to £800m. That was before the Reds’ accounts were sneaked out last week showing overall debt of a staggering £473m and dashing supporters’ hopes of an end to this torture yet further.

To now find that the bank gave the owners at least 12 months to find a buyer who was willing to not only pay that outrageous asking price but to deal with that frightening debt leaves fans with heads in hands convinced there is no end to this nightmare. Have the owners persuaded the bank to stay off their backs long enough to see if the world markets recover?

The accounts showed the majority of the Reds’ debt was to the bank – an overall £238m outstanding but with a facility to increase that up to a potential £297m. Overall the club found itself hit with a £43m bill for interest during that year ending 31 July 2009, making an interest bill totalling £76m for the past two years alone. To put that into perspective, when Liverpool announced details of a 60,000-seater stadium in 2002 the whole cost, of the whole project, was estimated at between £60m and £70m. In two years the club has paid more in interest than that stadium would have cost to build.

Staying on the subject of the stadium, despite it still not actually existing, it’s costing more and more money every time another set of accounts is sneaked out. This time another £22.3m went into what remains a figment of a Dallas architect’s imagination. Shovels never went into the ground, “large swimming pools” never started to take shape, but Liverpool have so far thrown £45.5m at a stadium that might never be built. The last attempt at building a stadium resulted in the club writing off £10.3m for the abandoned plans inherited by the current owners, bringing the money wasted so far to £55.8m.

Fans are understandably angered at these figures. £76m in interest for two years, £55.8m spent on a stadium yet to even have one ounce of steel bought for it, a total of £131.8m spent by the club since the new owners came in on the very thing they were brought in for. And they’ve not it brought it. They’ve just taken.

Coincidentally that pretend stadium figure is very close to the amounts the owners had claimed they’d put into the club so far out of their own pockets. Co-owner George Gillett Junior was recorded speaking to a supporter late last year about the state the club was in and claimed that he and his partner had put £128m in. It wasn’t all he claimed.

It’s common knowledge, recorded in legal documents, that the two owners borrowed the money to buy the club, a total of £298m was made available to them. But Gillett likes his fairy tales: “When we bought the club it was with our own money. Cash.” That comment alone was astounding, even by Gillett’s standards.

Twelve months later and that loan needed to be refinanced but – Anfield Road believes – Gillett’s financial situation wasn’t quite as rosy as he’d said when that first loan was taken out. One of the sticking points in getting it refinanced was that Hicks was no longer keen on signing a finance agreement on a “joint and several” basis and so began a feud that still hasn’t ended. The refinancing went through eventually with all but the initial purchase price put directly onto the club.

This half of Liverpool’s ‘Brothers Grimm’ continued with his stories: “The club is extraordinarily good financial condition. Far better than United, Chelsea or Arsenal. We have put more money in than anyone, more than Man City with the craziness they have got.”

If you hadn’t heard the recording yourself you’d assume this was all made up by someone out to smear Gillett as a madman, so wild were the claims. But he made it all up himself. And he wasn’t finished: “The vast majority came from Tom and me and our personal cash, not the club, not from borrowings.”

It wasn’t his only gem: “If I told you that Arsenal by law cannot spend as much as we do, United cannot spend any more than we can, would you say we are under spending? We didn’t do what Man United did. They took all of their money from the player sale and owed so much money they had to use it to pay down the debt.”

Even when he eventually got something right he made it wrong: “We have put £128 million in to buy players on top of what’s come in in the last 18 months.”

Even Rafa’s most loyal supporters would struggle to accept a season like the one now ending had he been given £128m – plus the money coming in from any sales – in the space of 18 months. Most of that money went on appeasing RBS by reducing some of that debt.

A few months later the Managing Director Christian Purslow backed up Gillett’s claims about the owners’ investment into the club. He told Spirit of Shankly that “last summer [2009] a large amount of debt was paid off by the owners personally. At the same time, they having by then invested some £130m, it was agreed we would fund our transfer spending for the time being out of our own resources.” Let’s repeat again, they’ve not thrown anywhere near £130m of their own money into the pot for transfers.

The £130m shows up in the Reds’ accounts as £145.3m, but it shows as a debt. , they didn’t put the money in as equity. It’s a loan from Kop Cayman, the overseas parent company, and for all we know was borrowed by them from some other source somewhere. However they got hold of it, they charge the club 10% interest on it. And with none of the interest paid so far, the debt is growing at a sorry rate, hence the reason the £130m is now £145m.

Is there anything else the club could use the odd £15m for? Players, perhaps?

Whilst the headlines of the last few days have again been dominated by Hicks, Gillett, Broughton, Purslow, part sales, full sales, boardroom showdowns past, boardroom showdowns present, transfer spend, ins and outs but a distinct lack of Sheikhs about, the only ones seemingly not worthy of a mention are the ones who are really financing this whole sorry charade; not the banks, not the owners, but the fans.

Any deal that has the potential to keep afloat the bankrupt regime of George Gillett and Tom Hicks can only be described as horrifically bad for the real custodians of the club as they are consigned to yet another season of soul-destroying stagnation on the pitch.

In the vast majority of other businesses, such disdain for the paying customer and corporate rape would have seen a company fail long ago, as customers took their “business” elsewhere but, as we have found to our considerable cost, football is just not “any other business”.

The emotional blackmail of giving up on something that has been part of your life, and has given you so much for so long proves too much to bear, as we pay hand over fist for our season tickets, Sky and ESPN.

We are the marketing man’s wet dream, the ultimate brand devotee, and don’t those at the top just know it?

It’s hardly as if we are going to write a strongly worded letter to the customer services manager threatening to start watching Everton is it?

How they must laugh as we pay our £38, are told to sit down, shut up and that we mustn’t protest; not that it matters though, because they’ve had our money anyway, and like a victim of systematic domestic abuse, we always come back for more.

And remember, that is OUR £38. It’s not a £38 that we borrowed off somebody else, to be paid back by somebody else, with us making a nice profit out of it having never even stuck our hands in our pockets. We made sacrifices to find all those thirty-eight pounds. Like we make sacrifices if we decide to buy our children all three of the brand-new kits that will be out in the summer. And for some fans you’ll need to multiply that £38 by at least ten, because that’s the kind of money it costs to buy the ticket along with a £50 hotel room from Thomas Cook, the club’s official touts.

Of course, families like the Hicks’ and the Gillett’s wouldn’t get where they are in the world without trampling on a few (thousand) people along the way; it’s extremely doubtful we are the first or that we will be the last victims of these particular snake oil sellers.

We should have seen them coming, and undoubtedly we won’t be so easily fooled again, but ultimately, we are powerless to make a tangible difference, despite the admirable efforts of Spirit of Shankly and a handful of clever, resourceful and determined individuals who have, at the very least, been a major irritant to those guilty of tarnishing the name of Liverpool Football Club.

Change will only occur when they either find someone who is willing to pay the vastly inflated asking price for a struggling business or the Royal Bank of Scotland decide to step in a put a stop to the corporate abuse of England’s most successful football club.

Wachovia are no longer involved with Liverpool Football Club, charging LFC £3.6m to be freed from existing agreements before RBS quite willingly assumed their £60m+ exposure last summer.

George Gillett quite happily dismissed the spending of some Spanish clubs: “That money is all borrowed from the government,” he said, criticising the practice. But RBS are now publicly owned and the fact they continue to support, nay, encourage the current owners of LFC is a stunning indictment of just how much risk banks will take chasing the mighty dollar, how little they have learned from past misdemeanours and exactly what they think of the people that had to bail them out to the tune of £45.5 billion pounds.

A bail out that that was down to, in the main, irresponsible lending, twisted accounting practices and greed.

Sound familiar?

Article from: (http://www.anfieldroad.com/news/201005093636/fans-forgotten-troubles-extended.html/

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)

************************************
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.

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 http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/sonsofanfield

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

YNWA

To:
John Hourican
Chief Executive, Global Banking and Markets
RBS
36 St Andrew Square
Edinburgh
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. 

[b]Debt[/b]
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. 

[b]Lies[/b]
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:http://www.spiritofshankly.com/news/Tom-Hicks-_-You-Couldn-sss-t-Make-It-Up-(Well-Actually,-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. 

[b]Cowboys[/b]
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. 

[b]Summary[/b]
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=

Monday, June 7, 2010

Plea to all LFC Supporters: Do Your Part and Join the SOS

Our club is being sucked dry, slowly but surely, by two leeches. The amount of interest/money being paid to service the debt is enough to pay the wages of at least 5 top players. Rather than forcing a sale, the bank looks to be happily allowing the owners an extension of the loan taken as long it gets the lucrative income from the massive interest. How long until there comes a time when all our assets are stripped i.e.: players sold off and replaced by mediocre players (not to say that it has not started when the manager had to sell to buy) on top of all the income we make going towards servicing the debts and we are put into administration and relegated?

The only man, who is on the side of the fans in the whole set-up, has been removed. A man who gave the fans a hope for the future, being the most successful manager in the last 20 years and was wanted by so many big clubs which he declined for the love of LFC. A man that had 13 players in his squad good enough to be picked to play in the World Cup. He may have had his flaws but he was never a yes-man the owners were looking for.

Rafa Benitez stood in the way of the owners whose interest in the club is pure business. It is a lucrative income for the owners given the size of our club and its fanbase, and LFC doesn't need to win any trophy for it to become a cash-cow for the owners. Just being at mid-table is good enough. Check out the few 'investments' the owners had made before LFC and you will get the drift.

The whole mess created by the owners smells so terrible it makes a public toilet feel like a perfume store. All the promises made were just lies and the media has had a hand in the smear campaign against the manager and unfortunately some fans fell for it and helped in his ousting (someone actually used the word 'traitors' to refer to this set of fans). It was so bad that some fans had this idea that all will be okay after Rafa left (I am actually glad that he left seeing the crap he had to take whilst being at LFC -- he doesn't deserve all that) and we will get the likes of Hiddinks to take over. Well, where is the Hiddink now? All we have left now is a board made up of more businesspersons working for the owners and King Kenny as the feel-good factor to hoodwink the fans, yet again before a yes-man is in his place while money being channeled out to the banks and to the Caymans.

What's next? Torres being sold by the Chelsea trojan horse? Gerrard deciding to abandon ship? Benayoun forced to go look for greener pasture? Will we ever see any of the money from the sales go towards strengtening the squad? Forget about the title, will we ever qualify for the CL again?

These are the uncertainties that hang like a dark cloud over the club at the moment. As for the owners, I don't think they care. As long as fans fill up the stadium and buy the merchandise, they will be happily laughing all the way to the bank. Even if the locals decides to boycott the games and the merchandise, no problem because the seats will be filled up by tourists who will visit the store before and after the games. And it will continue as long as the owners are not forced by the banks to sell. But why would the banks do that when they themselves are getting a fair share of the whole deal, 1M a week in payable interest is good business. 

We the fans are the victims in this whole mess and we will surely witness further decline of the club we love dearly given the circumstances. Fans from all around the world should reignite what used to be the notion of us being the most knowledgeable fans and start supporting the efforts for the survival of OUR club. We should not just sit aside and watch our club crumble and, heaven forbids, becomes another Leeds or Newcastle. Just like the few efforts put up by individuals recently, for example the recent letters sent to all media stating our thoughts, there are more efforts being put into place. According to sources close to this whole mess, things are not so gloomy if everything goes according to plan. We might, at last, get rid of the two viruses. Even if it doesn't happen quickly, we can at least look back and say that we tried our best.

One step being discussed towards this is not buying any merchandise because this indirectly puts money into the pockets of the greedy leeches, so I will not be buying the jersey. The second step is to start boycotting everything that is related to the two twats. The third would be to start writing to entities related directly or indirectly to the two twats and LFC stating our thoughts and what we intend to do. 

But the most important step is to sign up as a member of SOS. It costs only £10 a year but it would be money well spent as SOS needs the numbers behind them and they have something prepared up their sleeves. Doing this is simple, just go here and do the necessary: http://www.spiritofshankly.com/join.html

Hopefully the Phoenix will again rise from the ashes with the help from all of us, true to the sacred words of You'll Never Walk Alone!