Thursday, 14 October 2010

Why Football Needs A Victory Over Finance Today

‘RBS vs Tom Hicks. Tuesday, Court Room 18, Kick-off 10:30 AM. Referee – Mr Justice Floyd’

Although just one of many remarks regarding the future of Liverpool Football Club, BBC Sport’s Dan Roan is onto something. Tuesday’s court hearing is a fixture of unmatched magnitude in the history of the club and possibly, in the future of the game that we adore. It’s a terrifying journey into the unknown.

Like many others, I used to watch Sky One’s football drama, ‘Dream Team’ on a weekly basis. It was an entertaining but ridiculous series with plots that could never stand up in the world of professional football. Or so we thought.

As I type this, the Royal Courts of Justice are playing host to a storyline that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the melodramatic world of Harchester United.

The Changing Skill-set of the Modern Football Fan

The football fan is a brilliant creature. Fiercely passionate, loyal and outspoken. The majority of them know their game inside out, each with an opinion on what is happening at their club, but this is not enough any more. Things have changed.

In order to understand the nature of the situation that has been unfolding at Anfield in recent weeks, football fans have been forced to branch into an area that they have next to no understanding of. They can tell you everything you need to know about the strengths of the 4-4-2 system versus a 4-2-3-1 but commercial law and the subtleties of boardroom politicking? Forget it.

In reality, however much research is done, it is impossible to say which argument will stand up in the court of law without extensive training and exposure to all of the sordid details. All Liverpool fans can do today is hope.

Broughton has stated that he is confident of an RBS victory but that alone is all fans have to go on. The fans haven’t trusted Broughton’s actions so far. Why would they believe him now on this most critical of issues? It may not be appreciated on the eve of the court case but let us be honest, if Broughton felt that RBS had been backed into a corner by Hicks, he wouldn’t say it publically. Fans must trust in blind faith and pray that this time, Broughton is correct.

Wider Implications?

Whilst many are thoroughly enjoying the plight of Liverpool, it may be worth them considering the implications of this court case for the game as a whole.

Although those who support their team via Sky Sports will fail to acknowledge it, football has been on a slippery financial slope since television money was introduced in large sums. When combined with increased exposure and the massive financial benefits obtained from worldwide broadcasting, football became a money-driven sport. A club spending beyond their means has always been a cause for great concern, but when coupled with significant mismanagement at a senior level the consequences can be disastrous.

To the world, it is clear that Tom Hicks is not fit to run any football club, whether it be Liverpool or Histon. Unfortunately, blatant incompetence will not help Liverpool to get the outcome that they so desperately need. Although the actions of Hicks may feel criminal to Liverpool supporters and in breach of the confidence invested in the Americans when they bought the club, this alone does not stand up in the court of law.

If the case appears a complicated mess from the outside, prepare for it to become a whole lot worse once the barristers begin to work. RBS and Hicks will have vastly experienced and talented legal teams, the latter instructing his people to find a loophole that will allow the court to declare the sale to NESV void. With both sides knowing the complexities of the law inside out, the battle within the courtroom will be formidable.

For the wider footballing community, a ruling in support of Hicks would see the British legal system effectively confirm that the money-men rule football. If Hicks is allowed to maintain hold of Liverpool Football Club with the sole aim of obtaining a more lucrative offer, the message sent to potential owners across the world is clear: ‘It doesn’t matter if you destroy what you’ve bought lads, just make sure you look after the bank balance’.

Whilst Manchester United fans will be loving this, it is entirely possible that they will suffer a similar plight when they finally try to dig their way out of the debt-shaped hole that the Glazers are burrowing into.
Football is not in the healthy state that many wish to believe. Now is the time to turn the tide and head back to reality.


Justice is a big word in Liverpool. Now, more than ever, fans must hope that the court dictates that justice would result in the club being placed into safer hands. From the outside it is easy to declare an RBS victory on the grounds that Hicks is severely harming Liverpool Football Club. For Justice Floyd, there can be no judgment from the heart. Fans can only hope and pray that there is sufficient evidence for a decision to be passed in RBS’ favour.

25 years ago we would never have believed that our national sport’s future could be so heavily influenced in a court of law. But the precedent set tomorrow could have a significant impact upon the English football world as a whole.

For the sake of football, we can only hope that the right decision is made tomorrow. Hopefully that decision can result in Liverpool Football Club’s most important fixtures returning to their rightful place, the field of play.

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