As Liverpool fans capped a breathless week, packed full with twists and turns that a takeover can bring – the confirmation that England Sports Ventures have completed a £300 million deal for the club means a much needed sigh of relief will disseminate across the red side of Mersey.
It offers the chance of recovery and restoration of a wonderful club tarnished by the sheer greed of previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett who plunged the club deeper and deeper into debt whilst showing a distinct lack of appreciation for the supporters and the history of it in the process. This is perhaps exemplified by their comments during such a frenetic week in the High Court where Tom Hicks said:
“I’m shocked, devastated, frustrated. We are being very careful to make sure we follow the High Court rules but I’m very disappointed. It’s hurt my family tremendously. This very valuable asset has been swindled away me in an epic swindle. I’m very angry about it.”
The stark reality is quite on the contrary. The only swindle was the detrimental way in which they ran the club and just how dreadful their custodianship was at Anfield. Hicks and Gillett said back in April that they were prepared to sell Liverpool, but their desire to make a return on their investment, as well as the huge debt they have loaded onto the club deterred potential bidders.
Borrowing huge amounts of money then saddling the responsibility of repayments onto the acquisition of the club brought about the “Spirit of Shankly” campaign who grew tired of seeing their beloved Reds gradually being destroyed.
But now under new leadership, I for one hope that John Henry and his team justify their statement that they “want to win” by doing so following such gross mistreatment of a club that has won a joint-record 18 league titles, seven FA Cups and a record seven League Cups as well as five Champions League’s. It is also owed to their excellent supporters for NESV to drag them from the mediocrity that current shrouds them aside from the world-class talents of Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Pepe Reina.
People will watch proceedings at Anfield through attentive eyes and whatever the new owners do, they must promise what they can actually deliver. The Hicks and Gillett reign will have Liverpool fans in a celebratory but cautious mood.