Let’s forgive FSG. Liverpool will struggle to find better owners…

Date published: Thursday 22nd April 2021 8:41 - Editor F365

We are still talking Super League but also those naughty owners. Keep your mails coming in to theeditor@football365.com…

 

In support of FSG
Jamie Carragher is fuelling the rage about our owners but I think it’s better left in the past personally.

He might not like what they tried to do but essentially they are trying to fill the £130m operating loss that Covid has caused the club. It was obviously a bit sketchy and very poorly thought out but that’s the billion pound industry of football that has also brought you multiple handball laws within a single weekend of games and a lack of consistency from VARs that would make Boris Johnson blush.

If I’m being perfectly honest I still love our owners. They’re not as rich as Man City’s but don’t come with a shady human rights record either. They’re possibly less commercial than the Glazers but at least they’ve invested into the stadium and the area around Anfield. They’ve also brought us success and created a buzz around Liverpool again. Before they took over and even in the early years of their ownership we were basically the same as Arsenal now but we’re lucky that the league was less competitive. Broadly we were a joke and looked like we would never compete at the top of world football again.

Should they have learnt their lessons after the ticket price scandals or the trademark debacle of last year…probably. Why did they hire Tony Barrett to be a fan liaison if they weren’t going to talk to fans about stuff that matters…no idea. But ultimately I don’t think there are many owners in world football who I’d prefer over FSG. Definitely no thanks to the sportswashing countries which leaves us with devils that we really don’t know. Based on the Glazers, Kroenke and Abramovich I think I’m pretty happy with the devil I’ve got. There aren’t any white knights out there who just want to pour millions into a football club for no reason other than passion so there’s no point pretending there are better options frankly.
Minty, LFC

 


What are John W Henry and FSG smoking over there at Anfield?


 

Million dollar idea
As a child, I was a huge fan of pro wrestling. It was a passionate fandom, comparable to football for me. And I appreciate it’s not for everyone, of course. But I’d love to share a story with those who may not have ever heard about it.

See, these days I’ve largely grown out of it, but I must confess that one of my favourite pastimes is to read up on the old backstage stories and hear about the absolute insanity that occurs behind the scenes in a pretty wild industry.

We all know that it’s a theatre these days, but those old enough may recall a time when wrestling companies and wrestlers would portray themselves as legitimate competitors, and would at times go to utterly crazy lengths to prove it.

The recent events with the ESL brought one of my favourite stories to mind. There was a wrestler in the 70’s called Ted Dibiase. Just a tough guy pro wrestler who worked all around America and Japan. In the late 80’s, he was offered a job in the WWF and given a new “gimmick”, a character. The Million Dollar Man. He was going to be a huge bad guy, a rich scumbag who used his extravagant wealth to get people to do his dirty deeds and rile up the poor folks in the audience. He’d buy out matches and even titles from other wrestlers because in his words, “Everybody’s got a price!”

The reason this is interesting is because the owner of the WWF, Vince McMahon, is a complete lunatic. And upon creating this character, he came to the conclusion than in order for the character to be seen as legitimate, Ted Dibiase had to live like a real millionaire. So while the rest of the performers were driving thousands of miles 5 men to a car and staying in motels 24 days in a month, the company paid Dibiase to fly around the world first class, stay at 5 star hotels and actually gave him thousands of dollars that he was to throw at members of the general public, just so that he could “live the gimmick”. And what a wonderful time it must have been for him!

By this point I assume you must wonder what my point is here. The reason why this came to mind for me was because of the detail that came out regarding the tier system in the ESL. That there would be 4 tiers, and how Real, Barca and United had decided that as they were the supposed A side of this league, they’d assigned themselves to the top tier with the biggest cut of the money, thank you very much.

It was bad enough that the teams had looked at this idea for months and decided to take the risk of going with it. It was bad enough for the teams like us and Chelsea to panic agree because of FOMO. But, the idea that anyone would sit there and listen to Perez basically say “Well I mean you know, we’re going to give ourselves the biggest cut because spending money on Galacticos is kind of our gimmick” and not immediately tell him to piss right off boggles my mind. “Well you know we’ve crippled our finances and chances to build a squad to make sure Leo gets paid, but he’s really popular so we’re in the top tier”. And they still said “we’re in”. I get that none of this lot wanted anything to do with merit or competition and were trying to do away with the whole “earning it” thing, but to actively choose to bend the knee?

The whole thing is a steaming pile, and people talk about the 12 teams owners having no respect for the fans, the players, the clubs, the cities, the histories. But now it seems most of them don’t even have any respect for themselves, and it has somehow added another layer of grotesque filth to the whole thing.

“Everybody’s got a price” indeed, Ted.
Dan, MCFC (And as everyone is well aware, we don’t even need the frigging money. Just get in the bin, all of you)

 

A suitable punishment
I’m as delighted as everyone else with the demise of the ESL. As a lifelong United fan I’m in equal parts disgusted and ashamed of our owners. I won’t say ‘my team’ because the team (manager, players,staff) all got shafted probably more than I did as they are employees of these wankers.

I hope this debacle brings change for the good. My question after the fallout though, is on the punishment that many people are advocating for – punishment for what exactly? What rules have been broken? Have any or all of the Treacherous Six documented anything that could be proven other than Perez waving a sheet of paper a la Neville Chamberlain (look it up kids) and declaring more nonsense?

Dont get me wrong, I’m all for some kind of punishment for all Six – be it points reduction or fines or whatever. If a points reduction means United miss out on Europe then so be it. Maybe that will spur the Glazers to give up. But what exactly can the Premier League punish ? Does a tweet signalling intent constitute a punishable offence? No one actually played in an unsanctioned game, no one actually embezzled money from their club (did they ??). I’m not advocating for one punishment over another, They need to be punished and with someting that hurts. But also with something that sticks, that the weasels in charge can’t challenge or get out of because of some legal loophole.

Genuinely interested to know what fellow mailboxers think or know is legally possible.
Steve (ex-Flixton Red) Ontario

 


Exposed Kroenke is now vulnerable to Arsenal fans


 

UCL little better than ESL
After an emotionally draining few days absorbing the death of football due to the European super league announcement, followed by its collapse, I am only now seeing the uefa champions league new format. Its hugely bloated. 225 games. Up from 125. It ll take a minimum of 17 games to win it. Possibly 19. That’s half a domestic league calendar. More TV money and sponsors of course. Coefficient weighted qualifying enabling privilege based on past glories for certain clubs. Isn’t that what we were angry about with the esl? The entitlement and privilege of the select few?

I’m cynical enough to think that the esl was actually concocted in collaboration with uefa. That it was never intended to be implemented, but rather was a ruse to assuage the outrage that would have met the new champ lge format, if it didn’t look the lesser of 2 evils. I don’t “believe” that. But I am cynical enough to think it.
Edwin Ambrose

 

The way forward
Football is like any product it has its chain and they take their ‘margin’ for the manufacture, marketing, distribution and retailing of the product. Yes, it’s a product, it might be the beautiful game, it may be jumpers for goal posts, it may be owned by the fans. But essentially it’s a product. Those taking their cut have become ‘greedy’, the governing bodies, the associations, the clubs, the players, agents, the content providers.

And the fans have disassociation disorder, wonderful letters yesterday, but some of those fans will be pushing their club to spend £300 million on a 5 year deal on Haaland. Fans, agents, players, clubs all combining to push football to seek more and more money. The bubble may not be close to bursting (Netflix style operation could see billions in income) but we need to grow it for the good of all.

If the fans of the top clubs are truly egalitarian (as your letters page presents) then you franchise all leagues. A nominal sum is paid the the respective association, this will allow the team to play in the association league and enter their confederations competitions. It comes with standards of operation (including the 50+1 rule) with clear terms and conditions of membership. Critically there is a combined transfer and wage budget (annual or agreed period). This would share out the talent and it would focus attention on youth development. Would it reduce the quality at the top clubs? Undoubtedly.

The Franchise would have to work on a confederation basis, there would still be differences, but it would level the playing field and limit the huge disparities, wages and importantly debt. This would mean that everyone could scale back costs and still make profit. The result would see all fans dreaming that their side could win the league or get into European competition. But are the supporters of the 6 in PL really willing to give up their clubs advantage. I suspect not.
P Didi (and we need a 50+1 rule for FIFA and UEFA)

 


The Super League saga Winners and Losers


 

Another loser
In reading the Winners & Losers column from this whole Super League debacle, I felt that there was one other group that could have been put in the losers column.

That would be FIFPro, the players union.

It was very clear to many that FIFPro didn’t have any idea of what they were going to do other than “vigorously contest” the bans of players from international competitions. That reminds me of the old courtroom drama:

Prosecutor: “I object !!!”

Judge: “Denied.”

Prosecutor: “I strenuously object !!!”

Judge: “Oh, well in that case….denied.”

The reality is that FIFPro had zero leverage, legally or otherwise. What were they going to do, call for a player strike so that players at Southampton, Real Betis, and Atlalanta, could strike in solidarity with their downtrodden brethren, so that they could play in a league that they themselves would be denied entry to through sporting means? Don’t make me laugh. I think they’d have been better off keeping their mouth shut and determining a course of action AFTER events had taken place. Rather, like every other union, they felt the need to show their constituents, off of whom they make quite a lot of money, that they’re “doing something” and that they won’t stand idly by as the players “rights” were at stake.

Fortunately, they and we won’t have to go through the legal machinations of it all and FIFPro can go back to doing whatever it does for the “good of the game.”
TX Bill, EFC

 

Bayern got lucky
Fair enough putting Bayern Munich in the winners section. But they got lucky in my opinion. On the 04.11.2018 (2,5 years ago) the chief company lawyer gave an interview in the German version of MOTD – mainly aiming at the foul play going on in the financial fair play ruling. He made it pretty clear (without spelling it out) that the top European clubs are looking into different possibilities of future financial sustainability, including setting up a competition they control themselves. Also involved in this: Bayern Munich. I remember thinking: shit, don’t like the sound of all this.
It proves to me Bayern have closely looked into this in the last 2,5 years and would have been in on the act if their club structure would have let them. With them being a “registered association/club” (the “e.V.” in their crest) and not a privately owned club, according to German regulations they cannot make decisions of this magnitude without getting the majority of votes from their members. No way the club members would have sanctioned these plans – and they know it. So no point in even trying and getting a beating.
James (MUFC – living in Munich)

 

The ESL would’ve been boring too
Just a quick one… I feel all those “supposed” fans of other clubs who say that the ESL would have been a good thing because who wants to watch Fulham vs Burnley miss the point entirely. (Looking at you, Rich from Cambridge, and others)

The only people who are meant to want to watch Fulham versus Burnley are Fulham and Burnley fans.

When you are watching your own team play, it doesn’t matter if they are playing utter dirge because that is your team. I mean you earnestly hope they will get better, but you watch them anyway because it’s your team. You are emotionally invested in them. It’s part of your identity. You stick with them though thick and thin. It’s not the slightest bit of interest to me whether other fans of other teams would find my team interesting to watch, and I don’t expect them to. On the other hand, a true football aficionado will something of interest in any match.

Let’s be honest, a football match can often be quite boring to watch if it’s not your own team. I never find the champions league very interesting for that reason. But when your team are playing, everything can be interesting. Perhaps your useless central defender finally makes a vital interception in the 80th minute even though you are three nil down. Or you fluke a win though a deflection.

Football is magical because of the rare moments of magic amongst the dross. The ESL wouldn’t have improved that.

P.s. can we start calling the “big 6” the “Big Sh*ts?”
Paul W, AVFC ( there is another Paul AVFC who writes in. He is not me!)

Joel Glazer Ed Woodward Manchester United

Time is now
Just like the pandemic was the perfect time to try and forge the European Super League with no fans in the ground to protest; I think now is the perfect time as fans to protest. After not being able to attend a football match for over a year, there is no way to expect fans NOT to go to the match the first chance they get. Fans should just not watch any football this weekend – let the clubs see viewing figures down and how that impacts signing up official noodle/tractor/paint partners; wipe the smugness from Sky’s face for “saving” football when they were involved in getting this whole ball rolling.
Robert

It’s not over
Can someone explain to me how any of the owners of the big six are weakened by this?
No punishment (I get the feeling for at least four of them that would have been checked before backing out) is being issued. If an organisation does look to punish them then how do you do it without punishing fans, players and managers of those clubs who had nothing to do with it and protested against it. If you punish the individual how do you do that? Remove them from various meetings but then don’t the club just send a replacement? Do you just invite them in when you need to ensure you have a quorum.
They are only going to leave their clubs if they decide to sell for a profit.
They might be a few uncomfortable meetings but I imagine they have all been there, done that, got the t-shirt and forged on.
Their clubs are still large and will continue to be influential in the premier league, Uefa etc.

One thing is true – if player prices continue to increase as they are now (think 50 players are now over £75 million in the main Europe leagues) then Super League will be revisited.
Al (this is going to go on and on like Brexit)

 

An opportunity lost
I am troubled by F365’s editorials as they didn’t show balance over the ESL, but I accept that there is no requirement for you to offer any. If anything this move highlighted the delusional nature of football and there is so much that is concerning. Football hasn’t been stolen, far from it. It was readily sold a long time ago and, as a benefit, we have been given better facilities, improvements in players, a largely violence and racism free experience, better players and money made across the game. Do you recall the Football League asking for more money as they were in a dire emergency? That came from the success driven by this commercialism. We talk of a football pyramid, but this is the only pyramid that is financially supported by the people at the top. You want your football back? You have had it, in dividend after dividend, year after year – grow up!

What this came down to was control. UEFA and FIFA want to control everything that goes on, and get their pound of flesh. They organise a largely dull affair in the Europa League and a tedious tournament in the CL where their answer is to widen the number of teams, leading to more non-competitive matches and the income from which, in the minor leagues, distorts competition. This was not a plan to remove the PL, or to change the domestic game, but rather a move to make more money, a large chunk of which would have benefitted the pyramid at the expense of UEFA and FIFA. The truth is that people want to see the big teams play each other and these drive the type of money that ‘the pyramid’ needs. You might not like it, but this is a business and, if you don’t accept it, go and watch your local amateur teams play and kick the money in there, at the grassroots. I want to see the big sides play, not wait for the draw where I have to sit through 5 months before I may get something worthwhile. Football belongs to the fans, but clubs don’t. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t watch it if it were on television, or that you wouldn’t have covered it, you would have loved it and there’s nothing wrong with that. You shouldn’t feel dirty, either – it would be a delight.

The type of football and club that you all seem to be talking about probably never existed as it has always been about competition. There is a reverse class-based culture in football that has won the day and it is verging on the Luddite. This is an opportunity lost and the argument against it had an air of being driven by media outlets who didn’t want their deals threatened. Sky would be troubled if they weren’t the broadcaster for possibly the biggest game-changing tournament and had to ‘content’ themselves with the PL. Other PL clubs were upset because they would be marginalised, as if the PL title itself wasn’t enough for them (they could have still made it into the CL and/or the ESL). Truth be told, people want to watch the big teams play, they have invested the money, been successful and built their ‘brands’, so should enjoy the fruits. Whatever you call it, football clubs have brands, the result of the game is entertainment and this is marketed to a global fan base.

One last thing – you are all against a guaranteed entry to the tournament. The basic fact remains that these clubs have enormous fan bases and this sells. Yes, it makes money for the clubs and makes money for the various pyramids, but we have seen that the whole system needs money lower down. It seems unfair that the pyramid asks those at the top for more money and then wants to stop them making more – it’s fuzzy thinking. This was an opportunity lost and, while we can argue about the split of revenues and the involvement of other clubs, it will come. You will watch it. You will enjoy it. You will reflect that you were probably wrong.
Nick in Woking

 

Padawan
Phil Foden is clearly a Jedi in the making with all this no look sh!t. After a turbulent/shameful week, hopefully this home grown local lad will bring balance to the force.

Preying we keep it real.
Rosie Poppins

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