As poor sad Liverpool prepare to depart to a darker place, things are looking up at the Ems

The Twinkle of a Fading Star

By Tony Attwood

Trotting off to Italy for a week and a bit is rather an interesting experience.  My Italian verges on the non-existent side of useless, so my attempts to glean footballing information from Corriere dello Sport in its native printed form is limited.

Fortunately there is an English edition – of which today’s headlines are

which shows you that their prime interest is, quite reasonably in Italian football, and by and large they don’t give a pig’s ear about the EPL.   All that talk every day about the EPL dominating the world – maybe, but there are limits.

Which means that in Italy they haven’t actually noticed that Liverpool, one of the three most successful teams in English football in the past half century, are about to go plop.  (I would say “go bang” but I think this is a case of TS Eliot predicting the future perfectly.)

“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper”

Those lines come from Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” which starts

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together

How perfectly that describes Liverpool FC.  It won’t be at all long before the memory of Liverpool 1 Arsenal 1 is a dim and distant memory, replaced by thoughts which if not as perfectly written as TS Eliot’s below then at least carrying the same sentiment.

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

“The Twinkle of a fading star”.

How perfectly that describes Liverpool FC

Before I went to Italy I wrote a little piece saying that I thought that all the talk of 6 bids on the Liverpool tabletop, (the Chinese, the Malaysians, and that bloke who runs the fish and chip shop outside Everton) were just chit chat, and nothing would happen.

I was wrong in one regard – something did happen.

The Royal Bank of Scotland have let it be known for sure that they will call in their debt of £237m on October 6, rather than agree to any more  re-financing deal.  What is more, that the jolly duo of Tom Hicks and George Gillett now have to pay RBS £2.5 million a week for being in default.

Shall I do that again, just in case you didn’t see it?  No, allow me to move for a moment into boasting mode and say that I and a handful of others were writing about this two years ago.  Then, when the auditors failed to sign off the Liverpool accounts I was writing about it again.

Of course I know it is just finance and just economics and just plain boring old guff that has nothing to do with Arsenal – but let me try it this way.

Let us say that the average EPL player of merit earns £25k a week.   The money being paid to RBS each week for no reason other than the fact that the club is in default, could alternatively be used to pay 100 extra players at Liverpool.  (OK I know about the 25 rule and they couldn’t use 100 players, but you see what I mean.   They could buy and pay the salaries of a complete new squad week by week with that sort of money.  It’s a sort of metaphor – without the metaphor.)

All of which shows you that if your names are Hicks and Gillett’s and you feel like borrowing £237m from RBS make sure you can pay it back when they ask you to.   Which was actually April.  (Eliot again: “April is the cruellest month”).

So by October 6 when RBS call in the loan, they will have added a neat little extra £60m to the bill making £200m since February 2007, when RBS stuffed £185m into the back pockets of those pesky Americans.

As for all those bids I was talking about before I went for my little pilgrimage to the Italian Lakes (so refined at this time of year don’tcha know what?) Yahya Kirdi’s,the ruling family of Sharjah, Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qassimi, Kenneth Huang, uncle Tom Cobbley and all… sorry guys, they haven’t paid up.

So what of Arsenal?  Those of us who are members of the club got our membership packs some 10 days or so ago, (complete with the 3.5 seconds of me on the DVD asking Arsene Wenger to define himself) and within were details of the new share purchasing arrangements for fans.   The idea hit the papers yesterday, and got a very positive response.

It doesn’t mean that you or I own the club through the new system, but it is a positive step, and interestingly was welcomed by everyone on the board and the big shareholders off it.  (Good move Mr Usmanov – more of the same please).

So let us compare and contrast Arsenal and Liverpool. Arsenal – total disaster, no trophies for five years.  The model clearly doesn’t work, let’s do something different.  I know, let’s follow the Liverpool model, except that they now have a chairman who is a season ticket holder at Chelsea, are paying £2.5 million a week to the bank in default payments, and can’t find a buyer – and so will become the property of the bank.

If you want to know what happens next look at Rangers in Scotland.  They are run by the bank, and yes indeed they won the league last year, so maybe it isn’t such a bad idea after all.

But just take a look at what is happening to that club, as every asset under the Rangers banners (from players to the club shops) are being sold off.  No one wants to buy them, and soon there will be nothing left.  Absolutely bugger all.

Arsenal meanwhile are still under the board’s control, still making money, and very slowly giving some control over to the fans.  Not a full Barca model (thankfully – they are bust too) but a step in a more reasoned direction.

There is so much excitement about the new Share-Save scheme that the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust website crashed for 90 minutes yesterday.

We are on the edge of having a debt of just £240m – the outstanding debt on the Ems.  That debt has an interest rate so low that the chances are that if you have a mortgage on your house, you’d do next to anything to get such a rate.

That is good news, because since there is no doubt that the debt will be paid off then the club will become worth more and more over time, and the shares will be worth more.

Actually it is really really amusing that some of the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal sites are telling us not to touch the shares – what with the ground being half empty on Saturday for the Blackpool match because of the all the season ticket non-renewals.   They will, as always miss out while the rest of us have quite a nice day out.


May I express my sincere thanks to Walter for running Untold during my time away – challenging articles, vibrant conversation… that is exactly what  Untold Arsenal should be.  An antidote to the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal sites while publishing articles of the type to be found nowhere else.


Untold’s Index – see the world through a grain of sand

Woolwich Arsenal – the history of the club from the fans point of view

Making the Arsenal – the book every Italian was reading by the poolside this summer.

One of these statements is not quite correct.

19 Replies to “As poor sad Liverpool prepare to depart to a darker place, things are looking up at the Ems”

  1. Nice one to start with Tony.
    I must say that this looks very bad indeed. And I wonder if the fact that Man Sheiky has arrived on the stage has anything to do with the fact that there are not that many wanting to take over.
    Because apart from paying all the debts you still have got nothing, apart from a football club. Maybe we will see a few players leave before the end of this month also?
    And if you would want to make this team better you have two ways: the long way like Arsenal did which may take 10 years before you can only see the beginning of the youth coming up. Or the Man Sheiky road with spending 100M every summer.
    So who ever takes over, he must have a lot of money.

  2. All hail Lord Wenger and God save the Arsenal

    Why is this site always pre-occupied with the situation of other clubs? We should not feel better about ourselves because of the misfortune of others.

    Im not saying that we should follow suit like all these other clubs in terms of over-spending, but come on Arsenal, loosen those purse strings a little.

  3. Welcome back, Tony – although, thank you, Walter, for your articles this past week.

    But I do see what Señor Dantes means. What you say may be true, but if Liverpool were to go tits-up, I would miss them in the EPL. Not that I support them in the slightest, but do remember their past losses against The Arsenal – of which I don’t need to remind you.

    Now to get the wife a part-time job to pay for some part-shares in our club.

  4. If most Fans of our teams would look at their model of life,which would one adopt?, a house worth nothing but still paying default payments and a 4×4 with no cartax or insurance, but doesn’t it look nice to Harry and marge next door, who’s house is less money and with a paid up family saloon outside and all kids have a good education of all with be successful,unlike the furcoat no knickers brigade who kids are playing on their xbox’s and latest games,thanks to The RBS credit card.

  5. I can’t stand these arrogant Manure and Chelsea fans saying that we’ve not won anything in five years. We need to win something desperately.

    But just imagine if we won the league title. Fewer things in life would feel sweeter. Given what we spend and the football that we play I think we would be beyond criticism or reproach. People would just have to shut up and say congrats.

    On a more realistic note it seems that the board would think a 3rd/4th place finish to be a successful return for the season.

  6. I wouldn’t miss them in the slightest – I support Arsenal but can recognise it is for the good of my team when other big clubs fall by the wayside through their own doing. It’s a valuable and timely message about the perils of trying to buy success.

    Most of my Liverpool fans cited Rafa as a success whilst Wenger has been a failure over the last 5 years – now (in part) we see the price of his route to success and wonder if they think that fluky CL victory was worth it.

  7. About looking at other teams I think this is one of the great things that Tony is doing in fact. We are not living on an island. Arsenal is part of football world and if something important happens to other teams in that world it will have its consequences towards Arsenal.

    Seeing the bigger picture is very important. It helps to keep some perspective. If you want to have some perspective and see the bigger picture…

  8. I love that poem… strange; I was just thinking about it last week – must be the zeitgeist.

  9. don’t change. It gives me a broad view of other clubs, and allows me to know more about their status than their own fans.

  10. Walter

    puts me in mind of Donne, since we are all waxing lyrical like….

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself.
    Each is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manner of thine own
    Or of thine friend’s were.
    Each man’s death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.

    appropriate or what?

    Great Article….

  11. Hey Tony,…

    I had written to AISA after you published it on your blog. At that time I had asked them if I could buy a share. I never got a reply and I thought that they were offended. But now I am very happy and I will definitely buy a share. What if I dont have a season ticket or a red membership. I will be the proud owner of a fraction of a share.

    Morever I think that this strategy is there to counter the Chelsea and ManC by asking money from our fans worldwide rather than the billionaires worldwide. So a great starategy overall to counter the billionaires and bringing the fans even closer.

  12. Kiwigooner, this site is not the site where you can have an opinion and get one.

    No, this site is the site where we have an opinion and where the readers have an opinion, can express their opinion (if a bit decent expressed) and bring the level to an even higher standard.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  13. I laugh when I hear people say “the League needs Liverpool” or whatever team it is and people say all nostalgically “I would miss Liverpool” or whatever team.

    Sod ’em all, I say!!!! I would laugh my head off if Liverpool folded. I would laugh my head off if Manchester United folded. I wouldnt miss them at all. Just as I laughed when Leeds and Newcastle went down. I think fans of those clubs would laugh if Arsenal folded as well.

    The only club I would miss, funnily enough, is Spurs. I would wish all kinds of awful stuff to happen to Spurs, lots and lots of it, but I would always want them around, as our great rivals, as they always have been.

    I would imagine Utd fans feel the same way about City (maybe not so much now!!!!!!) and Liverpool and Everton fans about each other.

  14. I hope the overrated Liverpool goes down. I’m sick of their fans who think they’re the best club with the best players, while they keep talking down on Arsenal.

  15. I was wondering why and who were involved in selling MAN IOU? If they were sustainable why be bought over? As you said before Tony that manure would be self sustainable if it were not for the Americans but would they have been able to buy all those players? sorry just a bit confused over how such a thing could happen overa top money making club? sorry if out of the subject but looks like liverpool are sinking away! lol well when one goes there surely will be a replacement so I don’t think it really matters if liverpool kabooms!

  16. Good article Tony

    Not sure where the other sites get about the stadium being half empty. Look at – game is sold out (as usual)

  17. Thank god man iou were bought by the americans because (without them) now they would have ozil,dzeko,david luiz and more than 100mln in the bank to spend for players.They would be ruling the world of football without any shadow of doubt.I am very happy they are not dominant.

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