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October 2020
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Bumbling or planning? What are they smoking at Liverpool?

By Tony Attwood

Some Arsenal supporters will, I hope, remember John W Henry, chair of Liverpool, for his infamous “What are they smoking at Arsenal” jibe.   Of course the jibe itself didn’t matter – some people do that sort of thing, it becomes a habit and they probably don’t even know they are saying such things.  But what was annoying was that throughout the affair which involved the possible transfer of Suarez to Arsenal, John W Henry lied, lied and lied, and then had the gall to boast about his lying in a subsequent speech.

He treated Arsenal and the English media with utter contempt.  The media might have deserved it, but Arsenal didn’t, and it is to the eternal shame of the footballing media in the UK that they will still deal with the man and take anything he says seriously.

What happened, as you may recall, was that Arsenal made a bid of £40m plus a bit more for the Liverpool player Suarez on the grounds that Suarez had a release clause in his contract if such a bid came in.   Henry laughed at that, said there was no clause and asked, “what are they smoking at Arsenal?” – an insult against the club and against Mr Wenger which of course the media relished.

It was a singularly foolish jibe because people who boast, tend to boast and boast and boast and he was later caught boasting in a sports conference in the USA that (as Untold and a few other media sources had revealed by going back through what had been said previously), there most certainly was a £40m buy out clause for Suarez.

But when Henry said, “What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?” on 24 July 2013 everyone laughed at Arsenal.   Even when  the following March he admitted that he lied repeatedly and that there was indeed a buy out clause of £40m in the contract, the media took Liverpool’s side, ignoring that revelation, laughing at Arsenal.

Of course people who lie in that way tend to think they can do anything and have anything they want, and so it seemed was the case later as Henry and his club got caught in a tapping up scandal in July 2017.  At least that time the Telegraph had the grace to call the scandal “Appalling”.

Liverpool were accused of ‘submitting a “falsified” document to the Premier League when trying to lure a 12-year-old schoolboy from Stoke City.’  Henry’s success it pulling the wool over the media’s eyes in the £40m case probably made him think he could get away with it again.

And it appears that philosophy crept all the way through the club as revealed when Liverpool FC faced legal action from the boy at the centre of the scandal.  The court revealed Liverpool tried to tap him up, and in that botched attempt, left the boy “unable to play academy football and his parents in thousands of pounds of debt”.

Worse, it then turned out that Liverpool were also accused of falsifying a document in the case meaning they fixed the evidence.  And then it emerged that Liverpool also had to withdraw from their bid to get a Southampton player, because they were attempting to tap him up as well.

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Then in Parliament Damian Collins MP who ran the Culture, Media & Sport select committee. said he wanted to examine what he called this “appalling” case. saying that “no-one is standing up for the victim and the victim is the boy.”

As media consultant Jonathan Hartley is quoted as saying,  “The public has a strong sense of natural justice and the fact that a young lad has been left unable to play football after his family correctly blew the whistle on tapping-up doesn’t sit well. Add to that the suggestion that the Premier League is said to be using its financial might to issue legal threats to the 13-year-old and his family and the whole situation will be viewed as quite unsavoury.”

Then when Southampton accused Liverpool of yet more tapping up in a similar case, Liverpool said that non-dating of documents (which was at the heart of the matter in this and the 12 year old’s case) was “standard practice” suggesting wholesale corruption in such matters.   It appears that it was about this time that the League then threatened to take action AGAINST the boy and his father!   But eventually sense and justice prevailed and Liverpool were banned signing schoolboys who had been registered with a rival academy during the previous 18 months.

Now the man who was in charge of Liverpool through the Suarez lying fiasco and the schoolboy scandal is coming to the Premier League with a plan to re-organised it, and not surprisingly quite a few people do not want him touching anything to do with the League.  He has been shown to be a man who boasts about tricking another club by lying, boasting about his lying, and being in charge of a club that was found guilty of acting illicitly in terms of a 12 year old schoolboy.

Liverpool fans may like to have him in charge of their club, but does the rest of football want him in charge of the entire Premier League and handouts to the Championship.

Thankfully some Premier League club boards are now angry with Rik Parry the chairman of the Football League for negotiating secretly with Liverpool with their chairman of ill-repute, and they want him out.

The problem is also that if the Championship clubs are given more money they will in many cases spend it all at once paying off last season’s debts, and then build up another load of debts.  And if the Liverpool chairman is involved, people will remember the way he lied, lied and lied again about Arsenal’s transfer bid and some won’t believe a word of his promises.

Supporters of a number of the larger clubs, including Arsenal, have issued a statement that included the words “we are totally opposed to concentrating power in the hands of six billionaire owners and departing from the one club, one vote and collective ethos of the Premier League.”

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13 comments to Bumbling or planning? What are they smoking at Liverpool?

  • Ivy

    You were lying too when you mentioned Arsenal as one of the ‘larger clubs’. Arsenal is now a mid-table club at best!

  • Suarez contract examined by graham Taylor and the PFA and found no release clause existed so why do arsenal keep harping on about it.if there was a release clause Liverpool could have done nothing to stop the transfer.get your facts right.

  • Uwot?

    Glad to see Arsenal are agains it? However the media are implying they are actually part of the cartel.However when you read that the likes of mean city ,Spurs,Liverpool & Man U are to get reimbursed for stadium costs if completed in the last 10 years you know what they’re up to.Why on earth would Arsenal sanction it.Seeing as they don’t appear to benefit from this carve up.Not to mention It seems grossly unfair to the remainder of the prem.No surprise to see the theiving scousers behind it with the spuds seeing a chance to get out of jail with their ridiculous stadium costs.

  • Sammy

    Any proposal with a £150mn give away for that lot up the road is a straight no for me. End of!

  • Ben

    the media say the big 6 are pushing for it so Arsenal gets lumped in. till you do further digging that Arsenal are not for it at all. as usual from the media push Arsenal negativity which the average fan that follows the media wont notice.

  • Nitram

    I don’t know if this is me just being paranoid but this is a really worrying development. I’ve just had a quick look around the interweb and far from the outcry I expected there seems to be a general feeling endorsement for it, all be it often with a tweak here and there, that would obviously make it more suit their own particular interests. One of the more worrying prevailing views was that, yes it was ‘gross’ ‘opportunistic’ ‘power grabbing’ and all those unsavoury aspects, but hey, £125 Million is £125 million. There were also the rather predictable comments along the lines of ‘well anything they screws Arsenal is fine by me’. One of the papers themselves even alluded to the joy that many will take from screwing Arsenal. I have a feeling this will, in one form or another, get through, and whatever shape that ‘one form or another’ may take, you can bet your bottom dollar it wont benefit us in anything like the way it will just about every other club.

    I hope someone can put my mind at rest because as I say, I don’t like where this is heading one little bit..

  • Nitram

    Reading back I could actually qualify “there seems to be a general feeling endorsement for it” to perhaps more accurately “a resigned acceptance of it”.

    Either way, neither ‘endorsement’ nor ‘resigned acceptance’ of it is good.

  • markyb

    So Dom gets his tax bill written off and the Spuds….. truly in an alternative universe here

  • Ivy that is interesting. Larger doesn’t normally pertain to league position but to turnover, size of ground, worldwide support, number of trophies won in recent years, that sort of thing. I don’t see how it can be linked to position, but if it were to equate with league position, then the top 10 would be larger. And we have been for around a quarter of a century.

  • David Palmer, I’m very sorry that I did not make myself clear. I mention it again (but am not sure this can be called “harping on”) because if was the Liverpool chairman himself in a speech to a major conference that boasted that there was a release clause. So the choice is either he was lying when he proclaimed there was one at the conference, or when he proclaimed there was not one in the “what are they smoking” comment. One of the two must have been a lie, which is why I think quite a few League clubs feel very uneasy about believing anything he says.

  • Nitram

    Ivy

    I’m sure you only made that comment in jest because not even a Donkey, and I’m talking a particularly stupid Donkey would make such a claim, it just in case you were serious could you, please tell us which 10 teams you judge to be bigger than Arsenal and under which premise.

    – Current League position?

    – Average league position last 5 years ? 10 years ? 20 years ? Whatever ?

    – Trophies won last 5 years ? 10 years etc etc.

    – Value of Club ?

    – Turnover ?

    – Stadium size ?

    – Match day attendance ?

    – National fan base ?

    – Global fan base ?

    – Global status ?

  • Nitram

    It seems maybe I was being paranoid, but even so, surely this shows exactly what the mind set is of those 2 ‘powerhouses’ of football, and to what devious and underhanded extent they are prepared to go to get what they want.

    The fact they have been embarrassed and asked to apologise will mean nothing to them. As has been shown, the Liverpool chairmen is prepared to lie, lie, and lie again, and basically get away with it.

    Manchester Utds ex manager had a list of referees phone numbers in his diary and openly admitted to intimidating them to get favourable decision, and nothing has every been said in condemnation, let alone retrospective action taken. In fact the media seem to me to find it all rather jolly, as they do when Gary Neville admits Utds tactics where to kick Arsenal off the park, with the full knowledge of course that the referees were going to allow them to do it un challenged.

    They may of been stopped for now, but far from apologise I fully expect them to let the dust settle, re package the same idea, and try again.

    I have absolutely no doubt they will get what they want, eventually.

    Oh, and of course we are still waiting for Ivy and David Palmer to get back to us. Luckily I’m not holding my breath.

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