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All Arsenal supporters should write to RBS about Liverpool’s loans

Although this article doesn’t start with anything Arsenal it gets there in the end. If you have a mind to, stay with me.

Writing (as I am) as many Europeans exercise their right to vote for Members of the European Parliament I am reminded of John Philpot Curran and a speech he made on the Right of Election in 1790.

Except actually I am not. What I intended to do was quote Thomas Jefferson – but I have just discovered he never said “Eternal vigilance is the price we pay for our way of life” or anything like it

But here’s the quote I found instead…

“It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active,” said John Philpott Curran.

Put another way, it is the common fate of the indolent and opinionated to see their football club taken over and destroyed by the rich, the feckless and the greedy. (Tony Attwood 2009).

When the Glazers bought Manchester IOU the club was not IOU at all – they were debt free. We could all see what happened at Manchester IOU but despite this the idiots of Liverpool (and idiots is not to strong a noun) wanted some of the same. They were willing to become a rich man’s poodle in order to get success. Success at any price, was the call. And when the money men said, “we won’t do a Glazer at Liverpool”, the silly turnips actually believed that these awfully nice Americanos had £185m stuffed down their trousers ready to lavish on their precious club – and further funds to build a brand new stadium. “If Arsenal can do it, so can we,” they said.

But guess what? They didn’t. They did a Glazer.

What turned Liverpool into Liverpoodles was a raging desire for success combined with a total lack of vigilance. A bizarre feeling that because the club was not winning everything, as it had done in the 80s, it had been betrayed by its owners and failed managers. They were (they said) “going backwards”. “At the very least we ought to be making progress” they said. (OK maybe not in those words, and I wouldn’t really know because I can’t understand the lingo, but it was something like that.)

In short, they had come to believe that they had an automatic right to be top of the league and that if they were not there, it was because the people running the club were stupid.

Liverpoodle was available to the money men from America because the fans demanded success NOW and so wanted money, money, and more money. They became so blinded by this desire, they would take any risk to get it. (“Any risk” is important here because we all take some risks in business. The deal in business is to know how big a risk you should take each day and go that far and not further).

They wanted to buy more players, because Manchester U bought more players. Manchester spent money so they must spent money. Manchester had a big stadium, so they wanted a big stadium.

“Manchester can do it,” they may have said (if anyone had been able to comprehend a word) “so why can’t we?”

And then two men came along. “Oh yes you can have it all,” said Tweedle Dee. “Yes you can,” said Tweedle Dum. “Don’t worry about that little Mr Moores, and that childish Mr Parry, they don’t understand money like we do. They tell you that the money to build a new stadium is not to be had, but they are hiding their own incompetence. The money is there if you look hard enough. We’ll do it for you supporters of Liverpool Reds.” (Actually, one of the American guys actually did call the club “Liverpool Reds”. I couldn’t stop laughing for a week.)

The old guard made a fortune from flogging the club and the new owners promised the earth, the sun, the moon, and that rather interesting pulsar in the Goliath nebula. What they delivered was the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way (see last week’s New Scientist for full details on the astronomical issues raised here).

In the boarded up streets and trashed wasteland of Anfield there wasn’t exactly singing in the streets (since no one is ever stupid enough to walk those streets) when the Americans bought the club, but regeneration plans were drawn up based on the thought that there would be a new stadium, a new Liverpool FC, and everyone would be rich. The streets of the Anfield would be paved with, well, if not gold, at least there would be fewer dirty needles on the ground.

Who cared that it was never clear where the money would come from? No one, because following the Thatcherite revolution we had all been taught that you don’t actually need to make anything to earn money. Money is there if only you are strong enough to take it. Money makes money – just look at the banks and the City of London. If you don’t have it, it is because you are too stupid to see the opportunity.

And so Liverpoodle lived the dream, just as Leeds Disjointed did before them. But the reality is the money to build the new stadium is not there. It was never there. It was all just a hoax, and the supporters of Liverpoodle fell for it, utterly, totally, completely.

The accounts of Liverpoodle, which came out so late that Revenue and Customs will fine the club, confirmed what we knew. Hicks and Gillett borrowed £350m to buy the club, fund the transfers that they were told were needed, and take first class flights back and forth across the Atlantic. By the start of 2009 they had spent £313m of it and the new ground was still a distant dream.

Worse, the money that the club made was all taken, in order to pay the £36.5m interest that the debt had run up. Even the utter criminal maniacs of the Royal Bank of Scotland (and its poodle, Nat West Bank) won’t lend these crooks another £400m to build the stadium that they said they were building with the last £300m.

Hicks is now working on the notion that RBS will keep his loan rolling, because they like getting the interest – and that might be true. Hicks also thinks he can subdue the Liverpoodle Reds supporters by stumping up another £20m of his own dosh for Benítez to throw around a bit. But as we have seen with G Barry, other clubs are already getting less inclined to do deals with Liverpoodle, because they want payment over five years each time.

But supposing the club does struggle on. It still has a huge debt which eats up all the profit that the club makes. The promise to start work on the new ground in the spring of 2007 is now not on only rather overdue it is also not going to happen at all – and that fact reduces the value of the club, which further reduces the ability to borrow money. And as a result the local councils feel rather miffed, because their promises of regeneration have all come to nothing. The council is calling for a joint Liverton or Everpool stadium, but Everton are in trouble because they have closed their training complex, but can’t get planning permission for houses on the site.

These days, the Liverpoodlians who bowed down to Hicks and Gillett howl and scream in protest. If you think that some of the readers of this and other blogs get a bit annoyed at the Arsenal board and management, you ought to read the Spirit of Shankley website. The American pair have, in their eyes, made the club a laughing stock and they are fighting back.

So now the Liverpoodle supporters are taking action. There is a group called the Spirit of Shankly and they are trying to persuade RBS not to continue to finance the owners debts. Fans are encouraged to write to the RBS and their MPs to try to get them to oppose any furtherance of the activities of the owners.

At this point I have to admit solidarity with the Spirit of Shankley. Actually it is a very good organisation based on a genuine love of their own club – but there is a curious twist here. They want RBS to refuse the loan because they want the Americans out, in the belief that

a) someone else will come in and buy the club, and
b) that person will not wreck the club like the current owners have.

I want RBS to refuse the loan because I think that

a) No one will be interested in buying the club and pumping money into it.
b) The failure of Liverpool will be a good warning to our supporters who are demanding that the board and manager of Arsenal spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, sp…. (you get the idea).

In a counter move Hicks and Gillet have now let it be known that the club’s transfer budget will not be reduced – although their ability to pay top wages might be. So we could find that although there is a budget, as I noted above other clubs, their players and the players’ agents might just decide that actually they would sooner deal with other clubs – almost any other club – rather than Liverpoodle.

Ironically Liverpoodle were trying to make a profit out of the problems at Valencia over the signing of Silva for £17m, but it looks as if he might go to Real Mad instead, as the vultures hover over Anfield.

Sales are more likely than buys in Liverpool. Dossena has hinted he wants to go to Juve. Actually he said more than that. He said “I truly hope to join Juve and start a new life.”

Xabi Alonso, that most articulate of players, has said that everyone at the club knows the problems, and he has hinted that quite a few of them are getting ready to jump ship.

So there it is. Everyone swooned when the money men came to town. Now the supporters are trying to persuade the banks not to give the owners more money (although it is not clear what they think will happen after that), and the players are getting ready to leave.

Yes indeed, Liverpool ended second this past season, and Arsenal had no chance of catching them. So should we follow the Liverpool model and create Arsenal Lap-Dogs? Should we take money from anywhere, and get ourselves into debt and more debt just to get above Liverpool in the league?

Shall we keep singing our club’s name, as we hit the iceberg and sink beneath the waves? Or shall we decide that getting on a bloody big liner called “The Eternal Debt” is a rather stupid thing to do, and that we would be better off continuing to build up world-wide scouting, and the greatest youth team structure the world has ever seen?

I think the latter, and that to achieve such an end eternal vigilance is the price we shall all have to pay.

In the meanwhile, if you feel like me that it is not a good idea for RBS to give the owners of Liverpool more dosh, the man to write to is

Richard Holliday, Royal Bank of Scotland, 135 Bishopsgate, London
EC2M 3UR. And email him at: richard.holliday@rbs.com

(c) Tony Attwood 2009

23 comments to All Arsenal supporters should write to RBS about Liverpool’s loans

  • H

    As ever, interesting stuff

  • don't believe the hype

    Excellent piece but sadly the people who need to read it and understand why Arsenal do not follow that model, will just not get it.

    It saddens me to see headlines about Liverpool claiming they can ‘out-spend’ man u and ourselves. If seemingly intelligent people continue to perpetuate this idea that the size of expenditure is a measure of success, how can we ever hope to educate the average fan otherwise?

  • IndianGooner

    Excellent post as usual…

    This may make some people realise the actual issues & stop their moaning for spending a lot or selling our club to a sugar-daddy.

    The worst thing is these people realize is what Le Boss has actually done in the last few years to save our club. He foresaw what was going to happen & he along with the board took some decisions which would safeguard the club in the long run even if it meant some struggles in the short term. He has kept the team competitive inspite of not buying a lot.. And I’m sure the rewards for the decisions are on its way.. We saw the glimpses of that in the last couple of seasons… This club can only go forwards now..

    In Arsene, We Trust.

  • Henry

    Well said!!! Destroying the long term viabilty (and success!) of the club for the sake of a short term-ist challenge baffles the sh*t out of me.

    Our Club has been around for over 100 years, and Wenger will ensure it survives at least another ten.

    Unlike the rest of the “Big Four”, which the on-going Credit Crunch will f*ck right good and proper ala Leeds Retarded (eventually), we still have a future in the top flight that stretches longer than the next year or three…

  • Nis

    Excellent article, and hopefully the people who say spend spend spend read this article and atleast admit that Arsene Wenger has the clubs best interests at heart when he doesnt go out and splash money on a player who may or may not improve the team.

  • Nis

    Wenger has not only ensured we’ll be around but that we’ll always be competing at a certain level. And he’s ensured this on a shoe string budget. In Arsene, we trust

  • mason

    This is off topic but i have to let it out; Wenger is….

    CUT BY MODERATOR…

    This post, as has been kindly pointed out (see later posts) a complete rip off of a post that appeared on http://www.teamtalk.com/football/yoursay/0,19082,1766_25,00.html and as such is one of the very few things that causes me to cut it. Plagiarism on a site such as this is utterly futile and pointless, and anyone acting in this way gets cut.

    I’ll comment further on the activities of “Mason” in the next post – meanwhile I appreciate that my cutting this article does mean that subsequent comments on it don’t quite make sense – but if you have seen his/her other posts you will know what to expect – or you can go and look at the original.

    I do not like censorship and do all I can to leave this site open for all, but I object to my work being copied and posted under another’s name, and what I demand for myself I offer to others. I will write to the site that the material has come from and offer my apologies.

    I will also take steps to ban “Mason” from the site.

    Tony

  • kelsey

    This is off topic as well.
    Mason,that is a word for word copy and paste job from Arsenal TeamTalk at 07.43 today.

    Can’t you guys think for yourself.

  • Marc

    Tony – Nice piece although I would like to point out that before Hicks and Gillette bought Liverpool Rick Parry had spent a couple of years whoring Liverpool all over the world in a desperate attempt to attract a new owner.

    I would never usually suggest that another reader should be banned from a site but am I the only person who has had enough of Mason and his inane comments.

  • Bongo

    Mason it is exactly that attitude that has ruined our season. People are so quick to blame the players and the manager for the season we’ve had, but the fans have played the biggest part in our failings this season. The one thing that was missing from our season was the unflinching support the fans. In fact the whole season there was nothing but immature, reactionary griping at every little thing that went wrong. The team didn’t have a chance. They spent the entire season fighting to get the fans to support them, what kind of bullshit is that? Do you actually think that will help the team?

    It is exactly this reason that RVP is considering his options. It is exactly this reason that a talented group of youngsters failed to hit the heights they potentially could have. Why do we need experienced players? we only need them because they will have learned to ignore the negativity of the fans when things don’t go to their liking. Why would any player want to come to a club with the most silent stadium, where the fans only cheer for the team when theyre winning and will boo every single little mistake?

    In brief Mason your unsubstantiated, bullshit, derogatory comment is part of the biggest problem that Arsenal Football Club have, idiot supporters with a false sense of entitlement. Actualy wait, I bet you’re a Spurs fan.

  • arsenal tone

    i agree with marc.. i know it goes against all you believe in but please tony ban mason from this site.

  • jbh

    Good article Tony, but you miss one important thing. There is little to stop Arsenal going the same way as the Glazer/Hicks/Gillett model. G/H/G are all Sports people, whether they took over via hostile takeovers (Glazer) or agreed (H/G) they both put massive debt onto the clubs they bought. This is because they could get away with it under the ridiculously weak company structure laws here. Kroenke is also a “Sports guy”. He may like to keep in shape by working out and shooting a few hoops with his NBA team the Denver Nuggets, he may be rated by Forbes magazine as the 9th best NBA owner, but at the end of the day his interest in Arsenal is purely materialistic.
    In the years that he has owned the Denver Nuggets since taking over in 2002 they have made the playoffs but been knocked out every year in the first round (ie round of 16) except this year when they lost the semi-final (sounds familiar). Last year Kroenke traded Allen Iverson a true NBA superstar (and teams best player) for a couple of players which many concluded was to keep the team under a US tax guideline (they’d be taxed more if they were over the salary threshhold).
    Kroenke owns other teams all with mixed levels of success/mediocrity. He is no sugar daddy (Ibramovich).

    So what does this all mean. Kroenke and Usmanov both invested to gain control. Full control means no transparency, which then means more debt (unless they both have 500m spare cash to spend – which they don’t). More debt means club profits going to pay interest and less to spend on players, etc. An even tighter budget for Wenger.

    The good news (only marginally though) is that Kroenke is a long term investor (in his sports franchises). But he will keep close reigns over the spending, and eventually repay his investment (the debt) via the cash cow which is the Arsenal supporters and TV revenue. Ultimately he will sell once he has made an absolute killing. He will walk the tightrope between squeezing the club for his profit vs keeping in the top 4 and keeping fans happy.

    Wenger will wait and see before committing to the longer term. If he can keep control over the full working of the playing side of the club and still has a reasonable financial backing then he may stay. I hope so. Kroenke will be keen for Wenger to stay as he is used to working with a tight budget.

    Lastly, remember that because Hicks/Gillett have not really put any of their own money into Liverpool any investor that is prepared to take on the debt would mean that H/G walk away without any loss (they may still make a profit). Bearing in mind the value of the brand and undoubted sound support that Liverpool has, there may be some consortium prepared to take it over on a long term basis. Otherwise the banks will manage it “tightly”.

  • I don’t really want to be dragged in to an off topic debate especially after such a finely written article. But it is no coincidence someone like Mason will make a comment like that as I’m sure he doesn’t really get or wants to get the article.
    Mason in no way fits into the demographics of this blog but it would be absurd to alienate someone like him. It’s about open dialogue people even though boy what a pain in the ass that can be.

    Anyway Mason, Wenger is in China to improve the country’s football which is no way a bad thing. If improving the fortunes of what could be many unfulfilled talent is a bad thing then I we are all doomed.

    Regarding signings, he has scouts to do that in the matches being played right now and probably has seen the majority of them many times. He has identified some targets and if Arsenal go through with them it won’t be until later in the deal when he will involve himself with it. Please be more objective next time you post.

  • Terence McGovern

    I am fairly sure that Mason LeBeak has already been banned at least once but hopefully we can make it permanent this time.

    Copying the work of others is a scummy thing to do and the same guy flatly denied doing so to Johnny Neale 2 articles ago.

    We should pity Mason. He lacks the ability to express himself or to formulate opinions of his own and in a desperate lurch for attention he is forced to copy and paste.

    It is almost as funny and pathetic as the image of Loserpool attempting to convince Silva to swap deckchairs on The Titanic.

  • Marc

    jbh – The reasons you list are the reason why the current ownership model is such a good thing. The first thing that Usmanov did after being appointed to the board was to complain that the club doesn’t pay a share dividend. This is overlooked by the Mason’s of the world when accusing the shareholders of lining their own pockets and bleeding the club dry.

  • jbh

    Marc – agreed. But the issue is that the current ownership model is going, just as Dein left, the others will follow.
    This shared passive model or the Barca public ownership is best but it will not happen (unfortunately).

  • Just to clarify earlier events. “Kelsey” posted to point out that “Mason’s” earlier post was a complete copy of a post from another site. You can read details of what’s been going on in Mason’s post which I have edited.

    Thanks to Kelsey who spotted this.

    Tony

  • pig

    i hope rbs do call in the loan. i hope pool dont go under, but a kick up the collective premier leagues arse would be a positive thing. maybe finance will become the press’ agenda.

    surely if the owners have some cash for players, and benitez spends it, rbs will have the right hump.

  • Valentin

    Arsene Wenger is in China, but contrarily to what some deluded and obviously platic and bitter fans, it is not just for fun.
    A couple of season ago, Arsenal signed a contract with Korea, Vietnam, and Thai club. The contract stipulated that Arsenal’s coaching staff were to provide technical assistance in exchange for the local club expanding Arsenal local profile.
    As some may have noticed, the clubs are advertised on Arsenal pitch board during game.
    Arsene Wenger is over there to promote Arsenal but also to fulfill his obligations toward those clubs. Moreover the former Abidjan then Beveren academy has been recreated in Asia, it may be that Arsenal is checking on some players from the academy.

    Regarding Mason, the earlier we get rid of that obviously intellectually challenged poster the better. None of his post have been of any interest, he only insult and rant for no good reason. Often his comment are so far off topic, it is becoming a running joke. Now that we have proof that even that ranting is not his own, Tony should just ban him.

  • Marc

    It’s a sad day when you can get more sense out of a rabid Spud’s supporter than someone who claims to be a Gooner. Unfortunately I have the feeling that Mason will be back under a pseudonym.

  • shotta-gunna

    I am a little late to this thread but one thing nobody seems to have mentioned is that the EPL and the FA have done nothing at a regulatory level to address the the pillaging of clubs through inordinate debt financing. Liverpool and ManU are imploding under the weight of interest payments foisted unto both clubs by American owners who are experts at ponying up very little capital and leveraging this to the astronomical levels with the aid of mega- banks and hedge funds who are just happy to be the toll-masters milking every penny of interest.

    There is an alternative model which is alive and well in Germany via the 50+1 rule which is “A term used to refer to rules regulating that no individual can own more than 49% of a club. The remainder has to be owned by the Verein, which is the original sporting club, which derives its purpose and finances through its members, which spawned the football team.” In Germany there would be no Hicks and Gillet or Glazers to unleash their Ponzi schemes on unsuspecting club supporters. (Note the former owners were willing to take the loot and run.)

    Yet the Bundesliga is one of the most solvent leagues in Europe and maybe the world. According to Double Pivot in a piece titled Seven-Reasons-the-Bundesliga-is-Better-than-the-EPL, the Bundeliga is the most profitable league in Europe? “While revenue is greater in England (by almost double), the Bundesliga profited €250 million last year[2008], over €100 million more than the EPL. In the meantime, the Bundesliga is now 2nd in revenue to England, outclassing both Italy and Spain in revenue and profit.”

    Further he notes that based on current rules many English teams “would be denied a license under Germany’s Lizenzierungsordnung, which regulates finances, …. as it is much stricter than in England. Each March clubs are required to put a financial plan to the league to show their liquidity. They have to budget based on that submission.”

    My concluding point is for like-minded supporters AFC as well as supporters of Liverpool and ManU, it is the current unregulated system of club ownership and club fincning that pose the greatest threat to great English football clubs built upon traditions of life-time inter-generational supporters. To borrow Tony’s opening metaphor “it is the common fate of the indolent and opinionated to see their football club taken over and destroyed by the rich, the feckless and the greedy,” namely the banks and hedge funds in alliance with feckless millionaires out for a quick buck.

  • Marc

    shotta – Great comment. The FA and Premier League have been criminally irresponsible in the way they have allowed English clubs to be bought or run into huge debt. When you consider the revenue that is available to PL clubs it is amazing that any of them should be in debt for anything other than ground expansion or new stadium projects. Even more frightening is that even with the release of Liverpool’s accounts and ManU’s debt figures there are still fans who argue for Arsenal to pursue this route. The idea of club’s being passed into the ownership of fans seems a fantastic idea on many levels but when you read and hear the drivel spouted by so called supporters of Arsenal or what is now seen as the only way to compete for any club, it is deeply worrying.

  • Stevey Gerrard

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/jun/02/premier-league-clubs-debt

    Manchester United and Chelsea were by far the most indebted, owing £699m and £701m respectively, Arsenal were third, with £416m debts and Liverpool, the other top four club, were understood to owe around £280m

    How arsenal can have ago at Liverpool when there 136 million more in debt is beggers beleieve… Cheek ye own debt before commenting on other peoples!!!!