Tag Archives: Tom Hicks

Spirit of Shankly Talk About Potential New Owners and Future of Liverpool

Liverpool F.C. supporters group Spirit of Shankly has helped lead the charge by Liverpool fans to remove owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

By Kevin Koczwara

It has been a busy week for the Spirit of Shankly and the supporters of Liverpool, and the chaos doesn’t look to be slowing down. Liverpool’s chairman and board decided to sell the club to Boston Red Sox owner John Henry this week without the consent of Tom Hicks and George Gillett. The board overruled the American owners with a 3-2vote in favor of the sale before Hicks could switch around some of the members more to his liking. Now, there is a courtroom battle for control and neither side is budging.

Before the sales and the backroom drama, I started speaking with the Spirit of Shankly about the supporter group’s protests and the type of message the group wants to send to Hicks and Gillett, then owners. Things have changed, so our interview naturally changed. The sale has come and gone and the group couldn’t be any happier because Hicks and Gillett will no longer be digging their hands into the coffer that is Liverpool Football Club.

But the group still has its misgivings about the new owner and the direction of the club because the Spirit of Shankly (and many other supports groups) feel that the fans – the people driving the club, purchasing the tickets, uniforms and beer – should have more of a say in the proceedings.

Here is a transcript of an interview with Spirit of Shankly President, Francis Stanton.

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Quick Thoughts on Liverpool Sale

John Henry and his sports group, New England Sports Ventures, purchased Liverpool Football Club this week. The sale has not been finalized by the Premier League and there is still a courtroom battle to settle about the authorization of the sale. Courtesy Webjedi, from Wikimedia Commons

By Kevin Koczwara

Liverpool Football Club’s sale could finalized as early as Friday, if court room battles and back room politics are settled. American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks feel the sale of Liverpool was pushed through, and the price John Henry and New England Sports Ventures paid for the club is far from the total worth. But do Gillett and Hicks really want to lose out to the Royal Bank of Scotland on Monday when they default on their loans? Or do they want to get some money back? I would think they would want some money back before the banks takes the club from their hands.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the sale:

  • I am a Red Sox fan, and I am a fan of what Tom Henry and his crew have done with the Sox since taking over. They invest wisely, rather than splashing cash for big names all the time. They figure out what wins in baseball, pitching, and then work around that by filling in the holes with players who do their job.
  • The hiring of Theo Epstein marked a turning point for the Sox. The team started focusing more resources on youth and the minors. Liverpool needs to start looking globally at younger talent and developing it. Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have done it. Lyon has mastered the transfer market by going after young talent, building it up and sticking to the tough transfer policies the team holds all the while becoming the dominant team in France and advancing in European competition. Can Henry and company follow the same models at Liverpool? I hope so. It only makes sense.
  • Message to Johny Henry: Do not alienate the fan base. Hicks and Gillett learned how ugly it can get when you alienate one of the world’s largest fan bases. Don’t lie or mislead the Liverpool supporters, they will get after you. Henry should relish being apart of another fan base like the Red Sox. Liverpool has tradition, and the fans love their club, so be one of them.
  • Henry has shown his support for the Red Sox by going to as many games as he can, tweeting about them, and speaking openly about the team. He should do the same for Liverpool. The model he uses in Boston will suit him well at Anfield.
  • Henry has done a great job with Fenway Park. He has got every penny he can from the oldest Major League Baseball stadium. He will have to do the same until he can build a new stadium or overhaul Anfield. I can see it happening and it working, much like it does here in New England. But he will need to act quickly.
  • The players should be happy, a new owner will take the pressure off their shoulders. Fans will be focused on their play now and the support should start ringing out from the Kop.
  • Americans aren’t all the same. Liverpool fans should give Henry a chance.

Kevin Koczwara is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at kevin.koczwara@thesocerguysonline.com.

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What The Soccer Guys Are Reading– Sept. 21, 2010

The Guardian — Tom Hicks fails in latest attempt to secure Liverpool private equity — by Owen Gibson

Liverpool fans have been begging and pleading for the club’s American owners to finally move on and sell the club that they bought in 2007 with so much promise. Tom Hicks and his partner George Gillett have struggled to pay off the enormous loans they took on when buying the club in 2007. Now, the debt has become too much for the American owners to keep delaying the big payoff and wait for a new buyer. The Royal Bank of Scotland has already started the process to take over the club and sell it if Hicks and Gillett can’t. Hicks was hoping to seal a new loan deal to buyout Gillett and try and find a suitable buyer. Doesn’t look like its happening.

The Independent — Messi was ‘hunted’ by Atletico says Pique

It looked like a break when the replay was shown, but Barcelona got some good news when the team found out that Lionel Messis injury wasn’t as bad as first thought. Messi was carted off the field after an ugly challenge from Tomas Ujfalusi left the player wilted on the field. Ujfalusi received a two match ban after the review board of La Liga looked over the tackle by the Atletico Madrid player.

Sky Sports — Cesc out for three weeks

Arsenal blew a goal lead to Sunderland on Saturday. And the team lost a lot more than three points, the team lost its captain Cesc Fabregas for three weeks. Fabregas injured his hamstring while scoring Arsenal’s goal on Saturday. Arsenal’s captain  joins Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner on the shelf. Arsene Wenger, Arsenal’s captain, could be seeing his English Premier League title hopes fading as his team suffers one injury after another.

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What The Soccer Guys Are Reading — Sept. 17, 2010

Tom Hicks is looking to hold onto his shares of Liverpool, but it looks like his partner, George Gillett, probably will not be able to. The Royal Bank of Scotland looks like it won't be refinancing their loan and that spells trouble for the American owners. Courtesy Pitch Invasion

BBC — Iraqi team helping people unite– by Sally Nugent

Iraq has had some tough times, to say the least. The country has been in turmoil after the removal of Saddam Hussein in 2001 from his dictatorship, and even before that the country was a walking time bomb. The country has its internal turmoil, but that doesn’t stop its soccer players from walking on the field, lacing up their cleats and putting on the Iraq jersey for international competition. The major difference between this team and most other international teams: They play soccer behind 10-foot blast walls and have security watching the gate for them, just in case someone decides they want interrupt practice.

MLSsoccer.net — Commentary: High-rollers not built for CCL success

Real Salt Lake doesn’t have the biggest crowds in Major League Soccer, in fact they have a pretty small regional population to draw from in Utah compared to some of the other teams in the league. So, RSL has to follow a smart recruiting and signing policy to attract players and win while keeping close tabs on the budget. Part of the team’s plan has been to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League and hope the potential of playing in North America’s toughest tournament will attract quality players for a cheaper price than a Designated Player like a Thierry Henry or David Beckham. So far the plan has worked to a tee. RSL won the MLS Cup last season and qualified for the CCL, now the club is working on improving on last season’s results with the quality off-season additions they made and by keeping a deeper bench than most other MLS clubs who focus on signing expensive designated players.

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Liverpool In Transit

Courtesy Myo Kyaw Htun

By Kevin Koczwara

News coming from Liverpool’s home base, Anfield, hasn’t usually been the most uplifting news for a few years now. Owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks took on an investment too big for their bite that only got worse after the global economy tanked. Investors have come and gone in droves. Players have been upset by management and have been rumored to move during each transfer window with a lack of potential transfers moving to Anfield being slim.

This summer Rafa Benetiz was asked to leave his post at the club and then signed on to take over Jose Mourinho’s vacant post at Inter Milan, which are some heavy and big shoes to fill. The club was in flux and there seemed to be no end to transfer rumors for their talisman players (Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres), a shortage of cash, again, and a real limited supply of eligible, affordable, and qualified managers in the market to replace Benetiz — who really did need to go after he alienated much of the squad.

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Hodgson's Huge Task as Liverpool Manager

Courtesy nicksarebi flickr

By Kevin Koczwara

To say that Liverpool had a disappointing season last year is an understatement. The team was horrible for most, if not all, of the Premier League season and the Champions League. The club finished in an unprecedented seventh place and did not make it out of group play in the Champions League.

What made the poor season worse for the club was it finished with a record high of 86 points the season before and finished second behind rivals Manchester United. There were high hopes for the club going into the 2009-10 campaign, but nothing went its way.

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The Only Derby: Liverpool vs United

Rafa will need to lead Liverpool a win on Sunday against hated rivals Manchester United if he hopes to keep the clubs championship hopes alive. (Courtesy Nigel Wilson Flickr)

Rafa will need to lead Liverpool a win on Sunday against hated rivals Manchester United if he hopes to keep the club's championship hopes alive. (Courtesy Nigel Wilson Flickr)

By Kevin Koczwara

Manchester United head to Anfield this weekend to hopefully put and end to Liverpool’s title chances. A win for United would be the knockout punch for Liverpool, putting them down for the count with little to no chance at winning The English Premier League for the first time in 20 years.

A Liverpool loss would be their fifth in a row and could the final straw for Rafa Benitez — especially with rumors of Jose Mourinho filling his shoes swirling (he isn’t loved in Italy by any measure). Benetiz needs his side to perform the level that everyone expects of them, because it is believed he is at fault for the poor play of recent.

The way the match-up is working out right now is the efficient United are going into a floundering Liverpool–hampered not only by form but by injuries. That scenario could lead to one of two things:  A United blow-out, or a tightly contested game with a lot of cards handed out, and physical play.

Let’s look at all the factors coming into this game:


Liverpool have the bigger question marks here.

If Torres isn’t fully fit come Sunday, then Liverpool are dead in the water because they don’t have another striker on their bench who can put the pressure on Nemanja Vidic, and any fear at all in the United back-line. If David Ngog starts, then surely Liverpool will be reaching for some attack and praying to the heavens.

Their best option to fill-in for Torres if he isn’t fit to go would be starting Ryan Babel on one side outside midfield position and Albert Reira on the other, with Voronin and Kuyt playing off one another. Kuyt, despite his stature, wins so many balls in the middle through hard work, can gain possession. And Voronin (I hate that I am saying this) is maybe the best option they have the bench for this situation. He is quick, and assertive. He doesn’t hold onto the ball too long and is looking to show the manager what he is made of. So he is a better fit than say Ngog or anyone else on the bench for this game.

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EPL News Wrap Sept 14

Ryan Giggs scored an enormous goal on a free kick on Saturday against Tottenham. The game was one of the most entertaining I have watched all year. But That is all I have for that story. (Courtesy James Adams flickr)

Ryan Giggs scored an enormous goal on a free kick on Saturday against Tottenham. The game was one of the most entertaining I have watched all year. But that is all I have for that story. (Courtesy James Adams flickr)

By Kevin Koczwara

I was going to start this off by talking about the Manchester United vs Tottenham match from Saturday. But I got this tweet from ESPN Soccernet when I turned on my computer: “Premier League bring in home grown quotas: The Premier League has announced that from next season every team must..”

This is big news for all Premier League clubs. Now clubs can’t just buy up other teams talent (Manchester City of this summer), they need to develop it. Teams must grow talent. Plant seeds, water them, and fertilize until they are big and strong.. Clubs must be more like the Porto’s and Lyon’s of the world — not saying they are perfect either, but their model is certainly much more affordable.

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