American Owners, are they good for the clubs and the fans?

After Stan Kroenke comments on American owners and the Glazers which can be seen here…


…. it’s time we looked at a number of the American owners who have been and are involved in English football clubs. I’m looking at just how trust worthy each owner is and how that relates to me and you the fans.

First off the Glazers. The list of issues and problems could go on for pages but Kroenke as ever, misses the major problems. If United make £50 or £300m, do or should I really care? No. What I do care about is where that money goes. He makes the mistake of mixing what happens on the pitch and off the pitch together. It either goes on the pitch or into investment in the stands, anywhere else and its a complete waste. Its pretty clear that the Glazers costing the club £535m has had no benefit for the club or the fans. My last blogs shows how even the British Government has now accepted this view.

Next is Hicks and Gillett at Liverpool. These are two Americans who tricked the fans and everyone else into thinking they could solve all Liverpool problems. They said no debt would go on the club, that was a lie and at the end they even tried to block the new takeover with more debt by taking out a massive payment-in-kind loans like the Glazers used. This would have basically crippled the club. A big issue has been the new stadium, the new owners promised to build it but it never happened. They were welcomed with open arms at first and left the club in a right state.

Following on from those two con men is another con man called John W Henry but he’s just the face of NESV. If I was a Liverpool fan I would seriously start to question the motives this group have because there are a lot of similarities to the Glazers and to the past Liverpool American owners. There is a lot of information that is hidden and that has not been made public. Just like Uniteds ultimate ownership, NESV ownership and ultimate Liverpools ownership is in Delaware. In 2010 Uniteds ultimate ownership was moved there and just at the same time the PIK debt was ‘gone’. We say gone but as Andersred put it on one of his past blogs “It is virtually impossible to get information on Delaware companies” We don’t even know who the Directors are, let alone what the accounts look like. The most likely position thats accepted is the Glazers PIK debt was refinanced behind closed doors. I can’t see any other way the Glazers could find £250m over night.

This leads on to Liverpools real position. Most Liverpool fans believe they are One. Debt Free and Two. Now Loaded. Henry and the like have refused to say what NESV debt consists of or how the takeover was really funded. They have also refused to say they won’t put debt on Liverpool. They sound to me just like Hicks and Gillett but just without the promises.

Heres a some quote from John W Henry on the matter..
“LFC discloses its financials annually, so monies going in and going out are disclosed. But I’m not going to disclose NESV financials or financing information.”
“But NESV has always had debt, from the first day we purchased the Red Sox.”
“£218m was partly raised from the NESV partners personally and partly from borrowing.”

So just like the Glazers and just like Hicks/Gillett, NESV has debt and they’ve admitted they’ve taken on debt to fund the takeover. Hidden in Delaware, has taken on debt, won’t be open nor truthful to provide the real figures. Where have we seen that before? It’s clear why no commitment has been over a stadium. They just like the past Liverpool owners are going to struggle to raise the £400m needed for the new stadium and there is always a possibly debt could be moved onto the club. I don’t see how the club has really moved on.

Next is Stan Kroenke. If you’re an Arsenal fan and you believe his comments about the Glazers, you are a very naive person. If he has no problems with what the Glazers have done at United I’d be very worried. It sends out all the wrong messages. I’d be very worried about debt and I’d be very worried about him increasing his shareholding over the next few months. I’d hope the new licensing rules are already in place before he could mount a leveraged takeover and if he’s going to mount one I’d expect it to be sooner rather than later. At one end of the scale we have Chelsea and City but at the other end these American owners who believe putting debt on clubs, increasing ticket prices and increasing turnover is the way to go. My view is neither are good for the game, the fans or the clubs.

Leveraged Buy Outs To Be Banned

I started this in another blog and quickly realised the importance of what I had written and after some reading, what I had missed. At first many including myself made the mistake of thinking the Government had paved over the subject of leveraged buy outs and they had bottled it. This is not the case. To get the full story you have to link to the Culture, Media and Sport Committees report on football governance with what the government said in the final report. The government has infact used the recommendations from that. It asks any reader to look at the Committees evidence and it’s recommendations. This is the paragraph from governments final report….

30. The Government notes the evidence before the Committee on the use of leveraged buyouts to purchase football clubs and the strong view of the Committee on the appropriateness of this vehicle. The Government expects that the issue of financial sustainability should be addressed as part of the recommendations on the new licensing model.

…. and this is the Committees recommendation.

176. In all the evidence we have received, a whole-hearted defence of the use of leveraged buyouts to buy football clubs is entirely absent. Within a football context, the leveraged buyout appears to be a particularly risky vehicle with little obvious benefit, and certainly not to supporters and local communities.

When the two are together it’s is very clear that the government is calling for Leveraged Buy Outs to be blocked or banned using the new Licensing Model. This is for me one of the greatest successes we’ve had in a long time.