Almost three months to the day since we gathered at St George’s Hall to declare our independence from the owners of Liverpool Football Club, it looks as if the gig is finally up for these two particularly septic tanks. As the Liverpool Echo reports that Gillett’s role at the club is now unclear following a default on a £75 million loan, and while Hicks desperately scours the globe for refinancing that seems unlikely to appear, although it may still be premature to crack open all the champagne no doubt being kept on ice by Liverpool fans, it looks as if the financial obituaries for the dastardly duo can at last be written.
Not bad for a fan’s campaign that some said was doomed to failure.
Supporters from all around the world have joined in, with direct action on match days, Hollywood producer Mike Jeffries’ YouTube film and Spirit of Shankly’s ‘Not Welcome Anywhere’ message. As events have unfolded, it has become clear exactly how far from the Liverpool Way as Shankly would have recognised it we have come, when stories of undignified boardroom struggles such as these appear in the media:
Broughton, Purslow and Ayre gathered for the meeting at the City of London offices of Liverpool’s solicitors, Slaughter & May, beginning at 3:30pm. Just 15 minutes before that, they received a faxed notification from Hicks and Gillett that they were sacking Purslow and Ayre and replacing them with Hicks’s son Mack and Mack’s assistant, Lori Kay McCutcheon. When Hicks had said on buying Liverpool in February 2007 that his was a “multi-generational family commitment”, nobody envisaged the appointment of another son in a last-minute cling to power.
This has led to a high court hearing to determine if the directors have the power to sell the club out from under the two Americans. The Echo is also reporting on fans’ determination to make their voices heard as the relationship begun with such hopeful PR statements on the Anfield pitch comes to an unmourned end on London’s Strand. While the campaign to get Hicks and Gillett out is one all fans should back, on whichever front you prefer – as listed here on Well Red’s website – we will do well to keep in mind as Spirit of Shankly reminds us, that it will not end with them gone.
Liverpool fans will never return to the naivety or innocence of financial wheeler-dealing that we displayed in 2007. Never again will we allow ourselves to be bought off with a few pictures of grey men in suits from thousands of miles away waving scarves and shirts at us and promising a new dawn. From now on, it all changes. A real say in the future of our club, with fan ownership the ultimate goal, is the very minimum we will accept as we seek to create a new Liverpool Way. One that links the strong traditions our club’s success was founded on together with the campaigning zeal and knowledge of intricate financial instruments which we have had to develop over recent years. We are more qualified than anyone to act as custodians of our football club. Whoever buys the club in the coming weeks will need to be aware of the millions of us looking over their shoulders, paying particular attention to the balance sheets.