01 February 2008

Share scheme needs to be taken seriously

Feb 1 2008
Fan Scene
By Sam Johnstone, Liverpool Daily Post

I’M LOOKING forward to the day that I can write about football again, but as it is the behind the scenes nonsense rumbles on.
And, to be honest, it’s probably for the best that games are on the back-burner at the moment with the way we are playing
I do want to pay tribute to Jamie Carragher, though, as I missed this last week with all the shenanigans.
Jamie is a true Liverpool legend, and for a modern day player to manage 500 games for one club is beyond impressive.
It shows Jamie’s commitment to the Liverpool cause, and his desire to play should see him get close to Cally’s record.
Like many Liverpool fans I tuned into Five Live at the weekend to hear Garry Richardson’s interview with Tom Hicks, and I wasn’t impressed.
The news that the owners had managed to restructure their loan deal was met with consternation by the supporters, and it didn’t really matter what Hicks came out with, it just wasn’t going to wash.
The real bombshell came when it was revealed that the club would have to shoulder the burden of around £30million worth of interest per year to service the loan, and this is totally unacceptable.
Hicks and Gillett (remember him? We all thought he was the senior partner!) may be hard-headed businessmen, but they obviously haven’t a clue about football in Britain.
Did they not notice what happened when the Glazer family did the same with United?
Though it is highly unlikely that an FC Liverpool will be formed, I do like the idea put forward by the group called Share Liverpool.
I’ll say right from the start that I know a couple of the people involved with this, and they are both serious people and know the game inside out, but that hasn’t clouded my judgement on their plans. It may sound “pie in the sky” to begin with, but having done some work for Barcelona in the 1990s I know how well a community-owned club can be run.
Barca is the best example of this, and I was proud to sign up to their club while in the city for a while.
The Liverpool saga asks an awful lot of questions about the new forms of ownership that are spreading through the Premier League at the moment.
For that reason a lot of Reds are keen to avoid another big investor coming in to take over from the Americans. The idea of community ownership isn’t new to the English game, with Supporters Direct doing excellent work with a lot of lower league sides, but if Liverpool go down this route it will be a major change to the way clubs are owned and run.
We were all a bit guilty of gullibility when Gillett and Hicks came into the club, probably because of our desperation to at least compete for the title.
We should all look closely at what Share Liverpool are suggesting, and, if we are able, try and get involved either by investing or by supporting.

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