Did Broughton miss a trick in safeguarding Liverpool’s future?

NESV John Henry and background

The news that Martin Broughton and Christian Purslow did not seek a guarantee from NESV, that they will not load debt onto Liverpool F.C must be worrying for the fans to read.

Not for one minute is anyone saying that NESV’s intention is to load the club with massive debts – most Liverpool fans knew this story before it went to print in the Guardian. The worrying reality for Liverpool fans is that after what George Gillett and Tom Hicks had done to the club, shouldn’t Martin Broughton’s primary concern be the need to guarantee debt would not be placed on the club by the new owners. It is beyond most people’s understanding why this was not a priority for Martin Broughton. It would not have been a deal breaker for NESV, if they had pulled out on this issue, clearly they wouldn’t have been the right owners for the club anyway. It is strange that Martin Broughton didn’t seek these guarantees, if only to put Liverpool fans minds at ease.

Liverpool fans should not be alarmed by this development. John W Henry emailed the Guardian with detailed answers to questions over the takeover. The Guardian reported on Tuesday;

In a detailed email Henry sent to the Guardian answering questions about the takeover, he confirmed that approach, saying he has paid off the £200m “acquisition debt” loaded on to Liverpool by previous owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. The only debt which Liverpool now owe, Henry said, is £37m to Royal Bank of Scotland for development work on the proposed new stadium, which NESV is now reviewing. “The simplest thing to say is that we removed all debt but the stadium debt,” Henry wrote. “LFC is not servicing debt other than stadium debt.”

Clearly the new owners at Liverpool have their heads screwed on and are doing what is best for the club in the hear and now. As well as this, the new owners have said on record that they will not extract money from Liverpool Football Club to service its own costs in buying the club.

This story is old news for Liverpool fans. The way the Guardian have approached the piece is typical of a media trying to scaremonger Liverpool fans into a negative reaction of the new owners. The new owners have been very positive so far about the future of the club both financially and on the pitch. The recent comments about Liverpool’s new transfer policy have gone down well with fans as well as the work John W. Henry will be doing to balance the books at the club. One Liverpool supporter has described this as scaremongering as a hostile London press towards Liverpool football club. Where that seems a little extreme, it is easy to understand such a reaction.
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NESV thus far have been transparent. They have paid off the £200 million debt on the club. They have talked positive in regards to the transfer market and they assured Broughton and Purslow that no acquisition debt would be placed on the club. Unfortunately, the rhetoric from when Hicks and Gillett assumed control of the club was much the same. Business can change on a day to day basis. One mans word is not enough in an economic climate that we live in in 2010. Martin Broughton should have  received guarantees before agreeing to sell.

With all that has gone on at Liverpool for the past two years it is incredible that Broughton and Purslow did not seek such a guarantee. If the deal had broken down because of it, Liverpool fans would have known they were the wrong owners. It would have put something to rest at the club if they had got these guarantees. Stories like this will keep on rolling because of their lack of foresight.

The new owners are saying the right things, but actions will obviously speak louder. It is of course Mr Henry’s right not to disclose the NESV’s financial or accounting information on grounds of confidentiality. Martin Broughton and Christian Purslow took a great deal of credit for getting the deal with NESV done. However, if because of their failure to impose this guarantee on the new owners, leads to a similar situation as the Hicks and Gillett regime, the blame will firmly lay at their doorstep. Its not that NESV will place debt on the club, its the fear that they can.

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