‘Are Liverpool still my club?’ and other questions

Date published: Saturday 1st May 2021 5:06 - Editor F365

Liverpool fans protest

The fall-out from the ESL goes on and on, with one Liverpool fan feeling like he does not belong anymore. Send your mails to theeditor@football365.com

 

Are Liverpool still my club?
Liverpool are playing Man Utd this weekend, I know this.

Liverpool were playing Newcastle last weekend, I did not know this on the Friday evening when someone asked me.

That was the first time that happened in oh I don’t know, 20 years perhaps.

I had to check myself and see did I really not know, and I didn’t.

I haven’t read Football365 that much the past few weeks, or my usual fan websites or podcasts.

But Liverpool v Manu is unmissable, I’m tuned back in a bit but my Liverpool radar still feels a bit fuzzy. I’ve been asking myself why.

Work is busy, family life is busy, covid is busy but that’s never stopped me before, Liverpool have always been my go to passion everyday, I like most other people on here are completely obsessed with my team, my club, my manager, my players.

Maybe that’s the problem. For the first time in over three decades supporting Liverpool they don’t feel like my club anymore.

That’s the trick of being a football fan isn’t it? You support a team but in essence you’re joining a club. Even though you’re not from the city where the club is from you ignore that and say well loads of other fans aren’t either, and now most of the players and manager aren’t either. We’re a family, we’re a club, this means more, and most importantly, I belong. That’s the feeling we all crave with this isn’t it, belonging?

The whole ESL fiasco has done something to that and I’m not sure if it is temporary or permanent. That feeling of belonging feels shaken, the illusion is wavering a bit. Why is this I’ve been wondering?

The reason seems to be that within this club I thought I was a part of two inner circles emerged which I will never be a part of.

There are the owners obviously who essentially see me as someone to click on articles, pay subscription fees, travel to watch games, ie spend my time and money on the club in return for entertainment. I get that, that’s ok. I don’t expect businessmen’s hearts to bleed red like mine do for the club but still the show of greed and ruthlessness was revealing.

The second group was the “legacy fans”. It only raised its head for a few days, on websites, on podcasts, but it was there to see plain and simple, and it said this club is ours. Not yours.

It doesn’t matter how long you support Liverpool, 34 years or your whole life, you’re not from here, we are, and we own this, not you. That’s the feeling that stung in all of this. Legacy fans letters to the board, on websites. It shouldn’t have hurt but it did.

I realised that’s a club I will never be a part of, and I never will. Fair enough in many ways. I’m not from Liverpool or even England. Why should I feel like it’s my club as much as fans from the city? But then that was the illusion wasn’t it. I’ve used the name Dave LFC on this website, I made it my name, I identify with Liverpool, I feel like I own them, they’re a part of me, who I am. But then suddenly you realise maybe that’s not true. At the end of the day when the crisis hits you’re one of them: non natives, non legacy, non local, you’re an outsider and you always will be. Despite supporting the club for half your life or even you’re whole life you’ll never really be a part of it.

Within a few days articles were appearing on the fan websites about the importance of “our international fans” clearly someone had twigged what happened and decided to get the PR machine moving again. This means more, Liverpool family etc etc but for me the feeling remains. In this club I love and support there are two clubs I will never be a part of. Me and hundreds of millions like me are why the club is what it is, but we’re never really part of the club, we’re outsiders who think they’re part of the club and that hurts, a lot.

I’m not sure what to do with this yet. I will watch the game tomorrow and read some of the articles no doubt when I’m bored or want distraction from the day but when I listen to my Liverpool podcast uptown later I will no longer feel like the 5th scouser in the room anymore. It’s them and me, and it always was.
Dave

How to save football
Buckle up, buckaroos, because this is a long and probably nonsensical mail! Anyway, yesterday I came across an article showing the total wage expenditure of Premier League clubs for the 2019/20 season and may I say, what the actual f*ck!? Man City, £351 million. Sure, they’re nuts. But Crystal Palace at £132m? That’s just not right. So vote for me as the new King of Football and here’s what I’ll do to save the game we love.

1) £100 million wage cap per club. You have 5 years to get in line or you start the 2026/27 season with 1 point deducted per million over budget. If anyone wants to see City try to overcome a 251 point deficit, stick around! This will only affect the top 30-50 clubs in the world, and frankly, they have too much money as it is. This will increase the value of a good scouting department and team building philosophy, and let everyone else catch up. TV deals will be lower because expenses are lower, so…

2) 25% of domestic league games must be shown free-to-air in the home country. You want the kids to pay attention, Mr Perez? Actually bloody let them see the sport! Further to which:

3) Away tickets will be price-capped at 2 hours pay by the national minimum wage. Because I think it would be excellent to see Man Utd lobbying for minimum wage increases, even if it is just so they can hike up their prices. For countries that don’t have a national minimum wage, I guess it’s time to catch up to the rest of the world because 2x nothing is nothing.

4) Agents must be paid by players out of their wages. Payments directly from clubs to agents are banned and will be punished unnecessarily harshly.

5) Transfer fees are capped at double the remaining value on the player’s contract, plus an admin fee of maximum £10million. So when some random Czech club or whoever develops a superstar, they still get their share, but the days of £200 million for Neymar are over.

6) VAR will still exist, the cat’s out of the bag there. However, the referees and linesmen will be asked to officiate as if VAR does not exist, and will only use it if directed to by the VAR. And their microphones will be broadcast for everyone to hear. Any players caught using foul language by the mics will be retroactively punished and banned, just so we don’t finish every game in week 1 with 11 red cards each, as entertaining as that would be.

And now we move onto European football! I’ve always felt the big problem there is that the Europa League is quite literally just a poor version of the Champions League, and the Champions League is neither a league nor full of champions. So!

1) The Champions League Mk2! 16 teams, play each other once, then a title playoff from the top 4 at the end of the season. Champions from the top 5 nations qualify automatically (or they’ll get all sad and rude again), then the winners of the 3 European competitions (yes, 3), then the champions of every other league in UEFA have a series of playoffs to qualify. Here’s the clever bit: the prize money is split into 3 pots. Pot 1 is your participation prize, well done for qualifying. Pot 2 is your prizes, so higher for 1st place than 16th, etc. Pot 3 is shared equally among every other club in the top flight of qualifying nations. Even if it’s only £1 million each, that could make a big difference. For example, you would expect the Dutch champions to qualify more often than not, right? Sparta Rotterdam, currently sat 11th in the Eredivisie, have a record signing of €440’000. It was Marco Boogers. 1 measly million pounds would change their lives forever.

2) The European Cup! Basically keep the current format, but make it up to 64 teams. 16 groups of 4, two legged knockouts. Would be worth a lot more with (likely) one of Barcelona or Real Madrid every year, plus 3/4 of the PL big six.

3) The Cup Winner’s Cup! It was great, I’m bringing it back. Top ranked 9 nations get a bye in the first round because the numbers don’t work otherwise, but then 32 teams, unseeded draw, single leg knockout tournament. The domestic cup winners of every federation in Europe are no more than 6 games away from ultimate glory! And a spot in next season’s Champions League!

And there you have it. Football is saved. Vote for me.
Harry, THFC (Addendum: international breaks will be consolidated into two month-long chunks in January/June. Transfer windows will be extended accordingly.)

 

Addressing the ESL questions
Anyone mind if I take this one? Dushyant, my dear deluded free market capitalist, you asked the questions so here are the answers:

* I expect billionaire owners to leave, they are not wanted or needed. They have not invested billions into their ‘business’. They are extracting billions from our ‘football clubs’. The sport washers and the dodgy Russian only compound the moral corruption that billionaires have brought to our game, they do not excuse it. And your ‘maximising profits’ is actually ‘destroying competition, reducing choice, changing fans into customers, dismantling over 100 years of tradition and culture, and disenfranchising communities’

* Yes, they’re called children, and we do it out of love. However, aside from these owners not ‘investing’ in the first place. We don’t want them to. We don’t need them to. The clubs create more than enough revenue to operate and this would be even higher if there weren’t leaches sat in the boardroom sucking the clubs dry. A club run properly by re-investing its profits will run financial rings around these billionaire hacks and their supposed business acumen.

* Not sure how many £30m players the bottom clubs have signed but no they don’t want to top clubs to leave. That’s why they kicked up a fuss. However they also want to maintain competition because what’s the bloody point otherwise

* Club football is a sport, that’s why it’s entertaining. Without competition 22 blokes running around a field in their shorts is really dull (unless that’s your kink). And so what if fans from other countries want to see more games between bigger clubs, why does their desire for entertainment take priority over fans who have supported their local clubs for generations, whose cultural identity and community is interwoven into their clubs history. Regardless, the Premier league serves up plenty of matches between its big clubs, as does La Liga and Serie A, throw in the Champions League and that’s a few hundred ‘Big Games’ every season, don’t’ be so bloody greedy.

Your questions show through to your view of football. These clubs are just businesses and those people who bought them should do whatever they want. These owners know what’s best, because they’re billionaires, so surely they’re the smartest people. Football is just for my entertainment and as long as I’m satisfied then I’m happy.

Only we don’t see it that way. Football clubs are not businesses, they may operate commercially but so does the NHS. They are public institutions, part of our communities, part of our heritage, they belong to us. Anything that threatens our connection to our clubs, that treats us as nothing more than bank accounts, that’s seeks to end the fundamental aspects of the game we all love, should and will be blocked, denounced, and revolted against. Billionaires are parasites, they would gladly destroy football for the world if it meant increasing their wealth by 1%. They don’t care about you, they don’t care about your club, they will lie cheat and steal from you all whilst assuring you that it’s for your benefit. If you’re on their side then you’re the turkey voting for Christmas.
Dave, Manchester

 

…In response to Dushyant Jamwal, LFC…..

1. What do you expect billionaire owners to do? They have invested billions into their ‘business’ and would like to maximize their profits. That’s what made them billionaire in the first place.

I understand that football clubs, by necessity, are businesses. They take money in and pay money out. Got it. Why does it have to be about maximizing profit? Is it too much to ask that something in our lives is NOT about making money? Can football clubs not just make money and spend that money they make? Football is still football. There will still be 11 players representing your club. You will still win some and lose some.

The fact OUR clubs, the ones we have deep affection for from a lifetime of emotional investment, have become status symbols for billionaires and we are meant to go along with whatever protects their investment is ludicrous.

2. Has anyone made any investment in their life where they do not want any return or growth but are happy to keep investing?

No, of course not. But then again I don’t really invest as
a.) I don’t have the money
b.) I don’t define my success/happiness in life by how much money I can make. Never have. As long as my family and I are safe and happy I’m fine thanks.

Also, I really don’t care about the portfolio of a billionaire.

3. Do the fans of clubs at bottom of the league really think that their clubs will be able to buy 30 million players every year without big clubs bringing in the money into the league?

My club are mid-table and have recently spent a lot of money. Not long ago there was a possibility we could go to the wall. In both cases I have enjoyed the fact I had a team to support, watch on TV and in the stadium. I am happy with my club spending as much as they can afford.

4. Club football is no longer a sport but a global spectacle. And fans in China, India, America, Japan would love to see more matches between big clubs as that us what has attracted them to European football, not a match between Wimbledon and Nottingham Forest (no offense please).

The reason club football is a global sport is because the big clubs have aggressively made it so. Finding new markets, growth, profit etc. If they want to see it, fine. If they don’t, also fine.

I know all of this comes across as some perfect-world-Jonny-Nic type answer but I truly feel this way about football nowadays. I am so tired of the discourse revolving around finances, transfers, VAR and billionaires. I wish we could just talk about football. The joy. The anguish. The whole experience.

Modern football IS better. Faster, more skillful, more spectacular. No doubt about it. One thing I miss about the old days is that the majority of fans emotional investment went into their team, the football they played, the moments. Money has, like in many areas of life, made itself the most important thing in elite-level football. To me, that’s sad.
Andy (I know a bunch of people will disagree… and that’s fine. Have a nice day!) .

 

ESL/Champions League difference?
Champions league: Chelsea, PSG, Man City, Real Madrid.

Real Madrid: State funded
Chelsea: Bought success
Man City: Bought success
PSG: Bought success

What do all these clubs have over the rest? A sizeable wallet plain and simple. If this doesn’t show people that the current situation is just as broken as what the ESL where proposing then I don’t know. When I personally look at financially dosed clubs like this winning the big honours I personally have no hatred or joy, just apathy. Does anyone actually care who wins it at this stage? Thoughts?
JB

 

…It was only a week or so ago the mailbox was up in arms about the thought of a ESL where a privileged few clubs would be able to unfairly benefit from a set up that allowed them be rewarded regardless of performance. Fans protested, Neville and Carragher were up in arms and clubs back down. How strange then that the same Man United fans are not protesting this morning about the ridiculous rule that allowed them to crash out of the CL and swan into the Europa League to have another bite of the European cherry. The rule was brought in to benefit the big clubs so they could continue getting money in even when underperforming in the CL.
J

 

On Arsenal and Arteta
Arsenal has to win the second tie…

But, most of all Arteta needs to win the game and the Euro Cup to help him continue to ‘learn’ if Kroenke is using him for a long termed but ‘risky’ candidate. One big reason is because he was chosen to replace Unai who was not ‘up to the mark’ though he has a good track record in Europe.

Again, we don’t know really what happen in training, but we clearly don’t have the stars quality in the squad. We don’t have cover for left and right fullbacks, our midfielders are not at the level of the top fours in all the best leagues in the world. We don’t have enough reserves in our strikers department.

Emil/Saka/Odegard (if he is signed permanently) is for the future because they still don’t have the quality in playing great consistently. They don’t have the strength for 90 minutes. I believe Pepe is going to be worst than Walcott…..he needs to be sold!

ARTETA is not ready to get Arsenal into the Top 4 consistently for the next season and the next one and the next one even though he managed to buy top players because tactically he is not there yet.

He tried to copy his master by playing a false 9 but failed. He failed because he just doesn’t have the De Bruynes De D Silvas De Gurdogan De Foden De Sterling in the front whom can score at any one time whom have the 8+ quality in playing and passing 20 to 30 passes at any one time in front of their opponent penalty box.

HE HAS TO WIN THE EURO AND QUALIFY CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TO ATTRACT BIG PLAYERS!

IF NOT, I BELIEVE HE WILL BE GONE IF RESULTS ARE NOT IN HIS FAVOUR IN THE FIRST 10 TO 15 GAMES IN OUR 21/22 SEASON……

MISSING THE SEXY ARSENAL’ S ARSENE WENGER.
ISMAIL, MALAYSIA

What is the future for Rashford?
Amidst the attacking fun at Old Trafford on Thursday, one thing was palpable, and strangely uncommented on: the way Rashford wasn’t really a part of it.

If I recall he was involved in one of the goals, but in general the attacking play was largely between Pogba, Fernandes, and Cavani. Following the realisation (it only took 6 years…) that Pogba is actually a left sided attacker in the mould of Zidane or David Silva, and not the heir to Patrick Vieira that everyone assumed he was, we now have to face a strange realisation that Rashford is no longer the best player in the “Rashford role” at the club.

In fact, I personally would say it’s pretty clear that Rashford isn’t the best player in any of the front four positions, with the possible exception of the right side (however a signing or Greenwood’s development could change that soon enough).

Now this isn’t going to effect his future at the club, since he is still the second best players at the club in most of those positions, and so that will add up to a heck of a lot of games. But it will present him with an interesting status dilemma. He has been accustomed in the past few years to being the main “star” at the club, enjoying the highest status and pretty much the highest wages. If the club progresses this is going to change, and as such so will his role within the team.

Personally I think this will be great – too much pressure has been put on his shoulders, and he’s been asked to carry a burden that he’s never quite been able to. I’ve heard people refer to him in the same breath as Mbappe and Haaland, which is both laughable and unhelpful. He’s clearly a couple of levels below them, and perhaps one level below the rest of the front 4 yesterday – and since attacking players have generally reached their rough potential by age 23, he probably always will be. Therefore once he is not expected to be the centre of the team, but simply an important part of the squad (like how, say, Solskjaer himself used to be), then hopefully he can flourish and play to his strengths.

I know many would vehemently disagree with this since he’s such a popular guy. But popularity doesn’t win football matches, and so I’d predict we see his importance to the team fading over the next 18 months or so.

Could be wrong, but let’s see…
Alex

 

Oh when the Saints…
What is it about Saints and early red cards? Anyway, here we are with another Friday night game against Leicester at St Mary’s and have Vestergard sliding in on Vardy and the ref plumping for a red card. Video replays show he got all the ball and none of the player with the initial challenge, but clearly after the ball has been knocked away, he comes into contact with Vardy, who has gone down. Looks like the ref’s decision was off the mark. No worries, that is precisely why we have VAR. They’ll review the footage and rectify the mistake. VAR won’t shoot itself in the foot once again… Will it? Surely… Think again.

Will the refs stop and think for a moment about the amount of lactic acid burn in Ward Prowse’s legs? Have a heart…
Remy the Saint (slapping my head at VAR)

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