Tuesday 28 March 2017

Fans banking on Liverpool's party poopers being bounced out of Anfield

Henry Winter

The Premier League is a great party damaged by a few guests. Those currently urinating in the punchbowl are Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Liverpool's owners who have long outstayed their welcome.

The Premier League hosts are so keen for these carpetbaggers' exit that they have been in contact with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), who could call in the loathed Americans' loan next month.

The prospect of a famous, if debt-ridden footballing institution passing into the hands of a state-owned bank causes concern, but it is understood that such stewardship would not be an issue for the British government. RBS would be expected to sell Liverpool on reasonably quickly.

The more one peers through the fires burning around Anfield the more it becomes apparent that Liverpool's future can best be secured only by RBS assuming temporary control. If Hicks seeks to re-finance, it's a doomsday scenario that RBS and other firms such as Citibank must resist.

RBS's intentions are not known but anyone who cares about Liverpool will hope the bank calls Hicks' bluff in his game of brinkmanship, calls in the loan and calls time on the Americans' disastrous reign.

Deadline

Any potential buyer will sensibly wait until RBS's October 15 deadline, when Liverpool will be available at a far more realistic price. As well as eliciting schadenfreude at Hicks and Gillett losing out, it would conclude an embarrassing episode in the history of English football.

Premier League officials communicate regularly with Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton and chief executive Christian Purslow. If RBS does the right thing by Liverpool, the Premier League must then work closely with the bank to find the right new owner. Someone with money and integrity would be nice.

Liverpool supporters also have a key role to play in assisting RBS. If the bank does take on the Americans, the fans must redouble their backing for Steven Gerrard and the team, showing why Liverpool are special. This is Anfield, this is worth investing in.

Saturday's 9,000-strong demonstration on the Kop underlined that. Fans can aid RBS in pushing Hicks and Gillett out the door by eschewing any action that might scare off potential buyers.

The emotion flowing from the Kop is both a positive and a negative in the eyes of investors. RBS needs the fans' support before getting the party started again at Liverpool. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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