01 February 2008

Liverpool FC fans’ buyout plan: Full details revealed

Your questions answered

* Isn’t this a pipe dream? You’ve no chance, have you?
IT’S no pipe dream; it’s do-able. Liverpool FC has millions of fans across the world. Most of them will have been worrying about what has been happening to our club lately. And they’ll be realising that life as a Liverpool fan could get much more expensive.
There may be no plans yet, but ticket prices may have to be steeply hiked in years to come to help repay debts. What will happen when the debts bite (and we have seen more and more debt secured on the club’s equity)? Our guess is that fans will bear the brunt in the end, not just in Liverpool but all around the world as the club “sweats” every asset. So instead of paying off the millionaire owners’ debts, why don’t we just buy it ourselves instead?

* Are you really going to get 100,000 people to sign up in this short a space of time?
WE TOOK nearly 50,000 fans to Istanbul – Athens too. In reality, it cost most of us between £1,000 and £2,000 to make the trip; more if we took our partners and kids along. Liverpool fans have always turned out when the club needed them. They find the money somehow, even at short notice. And remember, there are literally millions of us around the world who really care about LFC.

* Yes, but £5,000 is a lot of money. Won’t many Liverpool fans be effectively priced out of something they’d love to take part in?
TAKE your point. We don’t want to see any Liverpool fan excluded. We will seek to provide opportunities for groups of fans to purchase one “member share” (carrying one vote) between them, providing they can nominate one individual to represent them.

* Why shouldn’t I just wait and see what happens, without putting up any money?
YOU could miss out badly. The list will close. Also we will propose giving the first 20,000 people to respond special status and possibly enhanced advantages for ticket purchase.
Those who commit first deserve some reward for their enthusiasm.

* Modern sports clubs can’t be run like this, can they?
WHY not? Many people know that Barcelona and Real Madrid are owned by their fans. So are German clubs, apart from Bayer Leverkusen. In fact, teams owned by their fans like this have won the European Cup six times since it became the Champions League in 1992.

* That’s fine, but in Britain, especially if you need a new stadium, you need a sugar-daddy. That’s the reality, isn’t it?
NO. LOOK at Arsenal. They’ve no sugar-daddy. The club costed up its plans, secured loans and convinced people to lend to them at a fixed rate.
The banks trust the club’s finances will be well-run and that fans will continue to watch the club. If we could show how much fans of this club care and how they’re prepared to back their faith with hard cash, then everything changes. We don’t need a sugar daddy – we ARE the sugar daddy – because most of the money comes from us in the end anyway.

* How do we get investment in the future or cash to buy players?
IF WE have a well-run, debt-free club to start with, there will be money to buy players (how much do you think is spent servicing the club’s debts?) Also the elected Board may wish to raise money (as any business must sometimes). At Barca, very rich individuals stand for election with promises of further investment. But it doesn’t mean they “own” any part of the club.

* What if we don’t get the £500m?
LET’S say we only get £100m – the equivalent of 20,000 fans signing up. At that point we would ask the 20,000 “members” what they want to do.
Some of us might want – as a group (Fans’ Trust) – to buy a significant portion of the club’s shares. Certainly, at that point, any individual member who wanted the money returned would be entitled to it.

* Can I sell my share later on? What if I need the money back in a rush?
THE simple answer to the first question is no.
There will be no ordinary “trading” in individual shares – no profit can be made from selling them – (otherwise the club would be permanently up for sale – just like Man Utd was). But if a member can find someone who does not already own a member share, then a transfer at the original price may be arranged through the elected board.

* What will we get to vote on?
Members will elect the board of directors for Liverpool FC, for a term to be decided by you. (Barcelona elect their President every four years). After an election, just like the Government, the Board will have executive control of the Club, but they may want an elected “Fans’ Council” to advise them.
The Board will know that in a few years’ time they will be judged on their performance by the owners – YOU.

* Will we get a vote on the team or the manager?
NO. THE elected Board has responsibility for running the Club and will employ professional administrators and managers to deliver the targets it sets.

* Will members be guaranteed a ticket if they want one?
WITH 100,000 members? You’re kidding!

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