How Liverpool FC Shows Globalization's Downside

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 10/04/2010 12:28:00 AM
I suppose in the larger scheme of things the rightful protests of Liverpool FC fans against the club's rapacious and quite frankly appalling Yankee owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks don't count for much. Last week, public sector workers throughout Europe voiced their objections to great perceived unfairness. You see, the bulk of Western European states have poured lots of state money into troubled financial institutions to prevent their collapse in fear of wider contagion effects a la Lehman Brothers. What many public sector workers believe is that their monies were used to bail out bankers who took on too many risks in the expectation that, if push came to shove, governments would step in. In turn, labour critics of austerity measures claim governments are now hacking away at public spending when it was bankers, not those employed in the public sector, who brought on this mess in the first place.

However, the telltale artefacts of American-style casino capitalism are not limited to banks or the public purse alone as the fingerprints of the culprits here are familiar ones. Nosiree Bob, Yankee disease has gone global in sport as well. Earlier on, I covered the much-reviled Stateside stinkers at the helm of Manchester United and their brethren at Liverpool FC. Unfortunately for the latter club, things have gotten worse. Much worse. On Sunday, Liverpool were beaten at home by the just-promoted from second division minnows Blackpool (I was of course rooting for Blackpool whose home stadium capacity is 15,000). Before this unlikely thrashing, protests erupted from concerned fans of the Spirit of Shankly movement.

You see, these Yanks have done virtually nothing to improve fortunes at the storied club. To begin, they didn't pay much of the £218.9 million it cost to buy Liverpool in 2007 with their own money but via a leveraged buyout (LBO) when credit conditions were easier. Since then, they've piled on an appropriately US-sized debt load of £351.4 million (about $555 million) due to their inability to generate revenues. Liverpool hasn't won any hardware under George Gillett and Tom Hicks, but that's secondary to leaving it in very poor financial health--just like the USA, eh? The current coach of European champions Inter Milan and formerly of Liverpool Rafael Benitez has said the American pair "knew nothing about football."

These Yanks have even turned to feuding with each other. I believe the reason why Americans like Gillett and Hicks hate each other so much is because they're so alike. Simply put, they don't appreciate seeing (obviously unappealing) virtual reflections of themselves: bloated, debt ridden, and with no money management chops whatsoever. Like modern-day America, it's not a pleasant picture. These Yankee carpetbaggers represent so much about what's wrong with sport--too much debt, too little talent, and an attitude not of nurturing a fanbase and building a franchise but of waiting to sell on Liverpool FC at a tidy profit despite mismanaging it into a £350+ M hole.

Recently, Tom Hicks has tried to lengthen his tenure at the Kop via the time-tested American tradition of refinancing massive loads of debt with the Royal Bank of Scotland--an ironic funder to say the least. It probably won't work, and there are now big name fans--some of them Hollywood A-listers, mind you--lined up to kick these bums out via a video campaign that I certainly shall be supporting:
Hollywood producer Mike Jefferies has returned to his hometown with Daniel Hubbard, casting director of The Bourne Ultimatum, to begin a weekend of filming for a viral video campaign to highlight the reasons why the American duo's time with the Reds has to come to an end.

Comedian John Bishop and Lightning Seeds front man Ian Broudie will be joined by various Anfield A-listers, with Samuel L Jackson and Sex in the City star Kim Cattrall, who was born in Mossley Hill, both heavily tipped to feature in filming at the Hope Street Hotel on Saturday.

Jackson is believed to be in the North West as part of filming for the new Captain America film, most of which is being shot in Liverpool and Manchester, and may rekindle his love affair with the club, which began when he starred in The 51st State on location in the city in 2000.

Shrek and Austin Powers star Mike Myers, whose parents both hailed from Liverpool, is also rumoured to be joining the ever-growing list of high profile names that will back the effort to see Gillett and Hicks ousted from Anfield.
There are more thanks but no Yanks-style videos in the works. I'm no Liverpool fan, but I definitely want to see these ghastly bums thrown out pronto and sent back to where they came from. Enough is enough. It's sad but true: with the ownership of this club unsecure, the storied Liverpool FC is currently not fighting for a Champions League berth but to stave off relegation. It's Americana in excelsis. Make no mistake: these two guys walk alone.

5/10 UPDATE: The BBC reports that Boston Red Sox owner John Henry is looking to take over the club before RBS calls in its loans. Would that necessarily be an improvement, though?

15/10 UPDATE: The deal is done. We'll see if the new Yank is better than the old ones.