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Come on, John W Henry! Do it for James!

When James Pearce was kicking off his slippers last night and pulling back the duvet on his bed with a wry grin on his mush, 1500 miles away I was sat on the edge of my bed with a face full of f*** ready to kick off with anyone that agreed with him 

The Liverpool Echo journalist published a defence of Fenway Sports Group (FSG) last night and it certainly caused a stir.

As James reached out to turn off his bedside lamp after sending his ‘Goodnight, God bless, sweet dreams xx’ Whatsapp message to John W Henry, I was sat wide awake flicking through the abuse James was receiving on Twitter.

Below is a screenshot, exactly as displayed to me by Twitter i.e. I haven’t edited it or manipulated it in any way. I could only fit that many replies on my desktop when I screenshotted it. I want to point out that some people did agree with James, albeit they were definitely in what I would describe as a small minority [and possibly a straightjacket]. Basically, I don’t want you to think that I’ve handpicked the best replies to make it look like James is wrong and that I know best, ahem.

James Pearce Twitter

His article was titled ‘Liverpool, FSG and the stark truth behind those ‘leaked’ emails’. I hadn’t seen people refer to the emails as ‘leaked’. I thought everyone knew that they were court documents that were freely available online. James was pulling people up from the start. I know how this shiz works. Make ’em look thick, patronise them a bit, then go for their jugulars. I’ve done it for years 

I wrote about those pesky emails in February of last year. People can, of course, dismiss the attitudes displayed by FSG in their emails with the way they refer to their acquiring of the club, but it does prove what they saw in the opportunity i.e. they weren’t coming to “save us”, they were coming to exploit the situation. The reason why our fans are flagging up those emails James isn’t because our fed up fans are thick and they actually thought these people were genuine football fans, it’s because they’re sick of hearing people portray them as having our best interests at heart. Those rebellious fans, who are after all merely hurting, don’t need reminding that FSG are businessmen; no patronising is needed when trying to pull them up.

If we look back to when FSG (formerly NESV) were trying to buy the club, we only have to see what former Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow said in an email sent to his fellow directors Martin Broughton, Ian Ayre and Philip Nash back in September 2010.

Broughton PurslowPurslow wrote: “To get it straight, I think we should avoid the natural temptation to jump straight into the deal with NESV. Whilst they are charming, intelligent and credible their bid is by any standards at the extreme bottom end of the ‘right deal’ threshold we set for ourselves: it only reduces debt by less than half and is I feel unlikely to yield incremental equity to fund a stadium. They may say they have money if necessary but I do not take this very seriously. Their eyes only lit up at the idea of other opportunity improvements. An American deal guy simply can’t avoid using other people’s money if they can. There is no extra money on the table to enable short-term investment in what remains a squad palpably needing more quality if we are to be definitively top four. New American sport team owners with the senior guy being a hedge fund manager could not be worst [sic] from an image standpoint, which is an issue for us independents. I have not even talked about valuation. I leave that to other members of the board. So what is positive? Answer, they exist. Which is not a lot, but it is not to be underestimated in importance … I repeat this is a bottom of the barrel outcome.”

Nobody would disagree with James when he writes that FSG have provided stability. He rightly references that lovely main stand which I think looks spiffing but who’s benefit is that stand really for? While it will generate more revenue for the club, I am cynical in that I believe they saw it as adding value to their investment first and foremost. When that stands pays for a new super-duper signing, I’ll be silenced. Until then, I’ll continue staring at the empty seats at half time.

James also talks of how FSG got it right by appointing Jürgen Klopp. Well, hopefully, he will be a success. This is the same manager that many of us were calling for when James appeared to be blindly defending Brendan Rodgers. Supporters only saw the Klopp development as a massive coup because it was a significant step up from FSG’s first real appointment in Brendan Rodgers. In the past, prior to FSG’s arrival at Anfield, I never got excited about a single managerial appointment. Appointing the best man was always considered ‘standard’ i.e. the norm for Liverpool. Have we really fallen so low that we now celebrate managerial appointments? Should we have paraded Klopp around the city on an open top bus? When you’re used to seeing shit, year in, year out, fans have no option to celebrate anything that looks remotely promising. This isn’t a dig at Klopp, this is a dig at how we’re now managed into believing how grateful we should be when they appoint a proven candidate instead of a rookie.

According to James, FSG have an average net spend of approximately £17million-a-season. That is appalling. I remember former Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier complaining about the lack of funds available to him many, many years ago. His words were along the line of ‘a top club like Liverpool should have a higher average net spend of £10m-£15m each year‘. If anyone finds those quotes, please let me know and I’ll edit the article to reflect exactly what he said. A quick Google (multiple articles) suggests that Houllier’s net spend in his first season in 1998-1999 was around £17.5million. So we have a net spend today that is similar to almost 20 years ago? Is that right? That can’t be right. Can it?! Look I’m crap at maths. I can order a dozen sausage rolls, that’s about it. I’ll let you lot get stuck into that net spend stuff if it interests you. I’ll stick to being an expert in Greggs.

The thing is James, this sentence in your defence of FSG sums up everything:

John Henry & Tom WernerUnable to compete at the top end of the market with the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, the Reds have pursued a transfer policy which focuses on investing in young talent and developing it rather than buying the finished article to order to reach the summit.”

This is the whole point, James. FSG aren’t bad owners but that doesn’t make them the right owners. We are unable to compete because FSG won’t inject their own money (and more of ours) into the transfer kitty. That’s the difference between owners who love football (see Chelsea and Manchester City) and ourselves. But putting money to one side for a moment, I also think their general policies just do not work. Owners of the most successful Premier League clubs in recent years appear to be 100% committed. FSG do not. Their love is their beloved Red Sox and baseball, not our beloved Liverpool FC and football.

Whether fans support FSG or oppose FSG, nobody can argue with James’ statement that they are unable to compete with our rivals and it’s for this reason alone that I would rather see someone who can compete, come in. Liverpool Football Club should never have been overtaken by the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City FFS. It is disgusting that we have sat back and allowed that to happen. Oh, we can stand up and walk out of the stadium if we think we might have to pay a few pounds more on our match tickets but protest about the way we’ve fallen behind and that’s a no-no.

In his article, James touches on former manager Brendan Rodgers for having “bemoaned missing out on his top targets at times”. When every Liverpool fan with an ounce of sense could see Rodgers was failing, James failed to ask the questions that the fans wanted answering. Instead, he repeatedly defended the now-sacked manager. Now that the fans are finally waking up to FSG, the same fans think James is a predictable FSG apologist. I don’t. I think he’s a very nice man, a very, very nice man 

The minute I was told that James had published an article about FSG I knew it would be a defence of them and it’s that predictability that infuriates supporters. I’ve ran this website for almost 20 years and The Liverpool Echo was always the only publication to ever ask the difficult questions on behalf of the fans, despite the obvious need for them to keep their relationship with the club, sweet. It’s not like that anymore. Today I feel like The Liverpool Echo has become an extension of the club’s PR department. Because every time the fans scream for them to ask awkward questions, the representation suddenly disappears.

I don’t want James or any of his colleagues to attack FSG. I just want balanced coverage. I have a great deal of respect for the publication and have absolutely no axe to grind with anyone there. I have always looked to The Echo for impartiality and honesty. I always felt like they represented the ordinary fans but they haven’t given this impression for a long time now. I know I’m not alone with this view and I’ll probably come unstuck for finally saying it, but I’m not employed to represent everyone fairly, I don’t need to toe-the-line and after taking years of harassment for daring to speak out and for daring to ask the difficult questions, I quite frankly don’t give a shit because I am, after all, only expressing my opinions, be they right or wrong. I’m not from Liverpool, I’m an out-of-towner, I’ve also been very successful with my so called ‘PPV’ website (or a scam of a website if you’re a KopTalk hater), but it doesn’t stop me from caring about the club and ultimately, our supporters.

I have supported FSG, I have defended FSG, I have respectfully questioned FSG. Unlike some, I don’t hate FSG. I would love FSG to be successful with us, I really would. All of us on the same page etc. But I have seen nothing in the last 7 years to give me any hope. Before you know it another 7 years will have passed. They could sell up and leave now with a hefty profit and they could leave with a decent reputation for having stabilised us. There are people out there that want the club. Look how many have approached us when we’re not for sale so imagine how many would step up if we officially were. There would be pretenders I am sure but if FSG really are these amazing businessmen, they should be capable of securing a deal that works for them and that works for the long-term success of the club.

Show Me The MoneyOnly last year, Forbes, not The Daily Star, The Metro or talkSPORT, reported: There are multiple groups interested in buying the English soccer team but Fenway Sports Group, controlled by billionaire John Henry, is not interested in selling a controlling stake.”

These groups are still there. Some are now looking at other Premier League clubs but the minute FSG indicate that they are willing to hand over the keys to someone that is ‘able to compete at the top end of the market’ they will swoop.

Meet us half way John, please. Us crazy and deluded ‘soccer’ fans just want to see the club *try* and be the best, to compete, to challenge. We’re very fair. We’ll back you if you back us. I also think the majority of the fan base is realistic with regards our expectations. We’re happy for you to take our money and ferry it by the bucket load to the States, but we just want to feel good again. We want to compete. If you can’t lead the charge, please turn to someone who can. Look, John. James appears to be a nice chap, he doesn’t deserve or need to come under attack from supporters when he’s only doing his job [for you]. I’m sure he just wants to write about a successful Liverpool Football Club. Do the right thing, then people such as myself will be able to stomach what he has to say.

Come on, John. Do it for James.


Duncan Oldham
KopTalk Editor

(I will be discussing this editorial in a video on KopTalk.TV (our free YouTube channel) shortly)

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