News has broken this morning that Liverpool FC, the iconic football (soccer) team, may well be sold by their current American owners (Tom Hicks and George Gillett) to New England Sports Ventures, the owners of the Boston Red Sox.
The rapid decline of Liverpool has been quite shocking: Just a couple of years ago they demolished Real Madrid 4-0 at their stadium, Anfield, yet last Sunday they were humbled 2-1 at the same stadium by Blackpool to lie in the relegation zone of the Premiership. Furthermore, one of their debtors, the Royal Bank of Scotland, is getting a little tetchy and wants its loan repayed by 15th October otherwise the club will be placed into administration (bankruptcy protection) – something that would trigger a 9-point penalty and make the spectre of relegation, once unthinkable for the “Big Four” club, all too real.
This highlights the financial state of European football Brad mentioned in a recent post, something which perennially worries many commentators on football. Yet the likely outcome of this whole saga will once again reinforce the long-standing cycle of deteriorating finances. There will be some “bail out”, almost certainly not government-led, and the debts wiped off by some knight in shining armour. While football clubs, especially those like Liverpool, remain as untouchable institutions (too big to fail!), the cycle will get worse and worse since owners can make the same kinds of bets made in financial markets in their heady days: Heads we win, tails the taxpayer loses.
The question probably is, then, will there ever be a Lehman Brothers of European football to kick off some kind of dramatic revolution in football?