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The Rub-Down – Liverpool tossed into the discount bin

Just when you thought it was over, the embarassing saga that is the sale of the Liverpool football club continues on. But are we being a little harsh on the owners here?

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15 October 2010

I was just scouring through Ebay and came across an unusual advertisement from a seller in Texas. ‘Football Club for sale – slightly damaged, used parts available’. The bid price was 400m pounds o.n.o. The seller’s comments were ‘no reasonable offer will be refused unless it is endorsed by the board of directors’. Such is the current state of Liverpool football club.

The ongoing saga that is the sale of Liverpool FC plummeted to a new low on Thursday as owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks obtained an injunction in a Texas District court preventing the Liverpool board from completing a sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures (NESV). Earlier in the day, the English High Court had paved the way for the sale by refusing Gillett and Hick’s injunction claims.

How an injunction granted by a district court in Texas can interfere with a judgment provided by the highest court in the English jurisdiction is beyond me. But that’s one for the lawyers and no doubt a resolution will be forthcoming in the next 5-10 years.

At the risk of some serious hate mail however, in my opinion the basis for Gillett and Hick’s claims have some merit. The amount that NESV have offered to the maligned yanks to buy Liverpool is the equivalent of walking into the Shangri-La and asking for their deluxe suite at $50 a night.

The simple maths is that Gillett and Hicks owe 237m pounds to the bank. They have also loaned 144m pounds of their own money to the club. NESV have offered 300m pounds for the lot. Given Gillett and Hicks bought the club for 220m pounds back in 2007 this price represents a significant loss for the duo and for a club of Liverpool’s global stature is simply embarrassing.

Liverpool is an icon of English football. They are 18 time league champions. 5 time European Cup winners. No other English club can match this record. They dominated European football in the 80s and have remained near the top ever since. Yet, the price being put on their head is only slightly ahead of the takeover price paid for Manchester City, a club with little to no success.

It’s even worse if you compare the price with what the Glazers were asking for Manchester United earlier this year, around 800m pounds, and the frustration of Gillett and Hicks becomes obvious.

Most Liverpool fans will argue that Gillett and Hicks have driven the price down due to their inept management of the club and poor decision making. While this may be true to an extent, at the end of the day the sale of the club is an economic decision and from an outsider’s view, I can’t help but agree with Hicks and Gillett that the economics don’t make sense.

For the sake of Liverpool fans, I hope something gets done soon. Just don’t count on it being done at the right price.

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