The Times newspaper today has published the letter sent to them from David Moores (Former Liverpool owner).
Reading through the letter as an Arsenal man, it just increases the respect for Arsene Wenger and what he has done for our club. Liverpool are a club that has thrown the word "history, tradition, culture and Gerrard" so often it almost makes me cringe to hear those words coming from them now. No denying that they are a top club and have been for the best part of the last 40 years. And with the current situation of the club, you can have nothing but sympathy for their fans and respect for those making movements to do something about the situation.
Reading the letter written by Moores, it highlights the delicate situation football clubs are in today. It also shows the thin line of naivety that people can fall into when they are making sound financial judgements with the passion for greater good of the football club at heart.
Moore says, “Gillett and Hicks produced a very substantial offer document containing all the key assurances RE: debt, the stadium, investment in the squad and respect for Liverpool F.C’s unique culture, traditions and legacy. It was impressive stuff - and it did the trick. For the motion to be carried we needed around 90% in favour. Over 1700 shareholders voted and the result was 100% in favour of accepting Gillett & Hicks’s offer“.
That quote defies everything that businessmen can be. Huge promises only to be left with nothing but media scrutiny, a Europa League qualification place and Insua. And despite Moore’s sincere apology in the letter, it seems he let his emotions get in the way of making a stable decision. And it is not as if he didn’t know who he was selling the club to. He goes on to say “We retained Price Waterhouse Coopers to advise us on the fabric of the deal, and they received assurances from Rothschilds, one of the most respected and respectable names in global finance, who vouched for both Tom Hicks and George Gillett.” That’s TWO large organisations who advised him wrongly and that is why I do hold some sympathy for the man – albeit he should have sniffed some bias as Rothschilds apparently made some money from Gillett and Hicks in the sale.
With the current financial situation globally, it seems almost impossible to be in a situation where a team can go ahead and invest money to get a new stadium and better their position as self financing football club.
Arsene Wenger identified the elements needed to establish Arsenal Football Club as a long term top level club and despite the trophy-less seasons, all Arsenal fans should be grateful to Wenger that we are not in the same situation as Liverpool today. He has established us as a top force in Europe and engineered through a stadium well before the recession that is now the envy of every premier league team (yes I include Manchester United simply because despite their bigger stadium, Arsenal are able to generate more, income due to the London factor).
Moore further states, “Rick (Parry) was always vocal about planning for success, and after much soul-searching from everybody close to the club we bowed to the inevitable. We began to accept that the only way we could continue to compete was by building a new stadium.”
The plan for Liverpool (made in 2001 – I’m open to be corrected on the year) was to have their stadium ready and running for the 2009/2010 season. The season has gone by and they have not yet laid a brick for the foundations, instead finding themselves finishing 7th despite having potentially the world’s best striker (not N’Gog), Steven Gerrard and one of, if not the world’s best defensive midfielder in Javier Mascherano.
It defies belief that fans can be so fickle as to call for Wenger’s head when there is living proof all around them of the situation other clubs are in. I would much rather be where we are today than where Manchester United are in with their Carling Cup, fan protests against the Glazers and Norwich City scarves (seriously United fans - return them to Carrow Road, they’re ridiculous and Norwich isn’t too far from London)
More important that winning trophies in the short term is to know that your football club will exist 2 years down the line (see “Portsmouth FC” on wikipedia).
I am not blind to the fact that Arsene should invest some money into players. I do believe some surgery on the squad is needed over the summer period. However, patience is the key and from David Moore’s letter, it is visible to all what impatience can do to a club that has been on the higher end of one of the best league’s in the world.
Football fans must understand that the game is no longer a level playing field. Huge investments may see short term solutions but eventually, every club will have to balance their books come the 2012-2013 season. And it would be interesting to see then how teams like Manchester City and Chelsea pay their big stars and generate the income.
Moore says, “Anybody who cares to dredge the archive will find myself on record as finding the decision difficult to come to terms with; but looking back now, the thing I was finding most difficult, was the transformation of the game I loved. Football clubs were beginning to be seen as a source of profit rather than a source of pride; they were as much financial institutions as they were sporting legacies. The Abramovich era was upon us, and I knew that I could never compete.”
He makes a fantastic point about how football has transformed as a source of profit. This is something that too many fans of all clubs fail to realise. Everyone is calling for trophys regardless of what it is. Throw a piece of aluminium sheet in front of these fans and they will be stepping all over each other to grab it without dissecting the element.
He does however sound pathetic saying he could not compete. Why not? Is he so afraid of seeing rich men with money that he threw the towel in along with the fate of Liverpool FC? How scared can you be of Abramovic. Does he look so violent to anyone that he will throw some Russian gold coins that will take your eye and blind you forever so you can no longer see Benitez flapping his arms like a duck? I’d be more afraid of seeing Denilson make the Brazil squad to be honest. Arsenal have lived through the Abramovic era without selling out. Yes, changes had to be made but they were the RIGHT changes!
So very few fans know that the prize money of an FA Cup win is less than finishing 17th in the league. How then should a club operate if they are expected to ignore the £30m prize of champions league football for a £3m FA Cup triumph with qualification to the Europa League which hasn’t ever held value?
What Arsene Wenger has done for our club is not something many managers or even a collection of board members with strong economical background has foreseen. We have our stadium BUILT! And yes re-read that word BUILT. We have done it without relying on a single entity that would have held us to ransom for the finances injected and we built it in time and braced ourselves with a fixed term mortgage that has secured our position during global recession.
It is easy to sell a club with such large generating income as ours but it will NOT pay off in the end! There is the easy way and the hard way and the hard way will always be the right way which is why it’s the more difficult route to take.
We should support Arsene Wenger as he has shown he really does know best. I am not saying the man is immune to making mistakes; we did have Igor Stepanovs in our books once and we do need a new goalkeeper. However, it is time some Arsenal fans stopped being intimidated by the media and others around taunting us about trophies and rose above it all to show what being a TRUE fan is.
I do realise there’s no open bus parade for having a balanced book but atleast I’m not walking around like fool wearing a green and gold scarf with riot police standing in front of our stadium with protective equipment ready to clobber me as soon as I take a step forward while I protest against our owners. But criticizing a man that has given a life times hard work into permanently establishing us a top team makes us no different to mercenaries like Adebayor.
We are a club blessed with the opportunity to go to a fantastic stadium and watch the likes of Vermaelen, Song, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Andrey Arshavin and ofcourse the one and only Emmanuel Eboue.
Keep the faith!