Thursday 1 May ~
"It is totally unacceptable to see this being played out in the public arena." So said former Liverpool chairman David Moores in an extensive interview in the Liverpool Echo on April 17 on the subject of the takeover battle at his club. Moores was of course only adding to the public spectacle in speaking out, but his sighs of regret at having sold his majority stake in the club to George Gillett and Tom Hicks in 2007 – a deal that left him £88 million better off – did at least provide a bit of light relief. Barely five months into 2008, the three-cornered Hicks-Gillett-DIC war is already a clear winner as the most tedious football story of the year and it may yet run over into 2009.
Following last night's Champions League exit the wrangles are likely to rise anew. Despite the result against Chelsea, things are going fairly well for Liverpool who clinched qualification for next season's Champions League with a few games to spare. Rafa Benitez, already highly popular with supporters for his achievements in European matches, has had his moral authority enhanced by the further details that have emerged about the owners' clandestine approach to Jurgen Klinsmann. Not least because chief executive Rick Parry, previously thought to be allied with Benitez, seemingly helped to set up the meeting with Klinsmann. So whatever happens at boardroom level, unless Benitez himself decides to leave – with Barcelona and his old club Valencia said to be interested - his job at Liverpool is safe.
But the prospect of a third Champions League final in four seasons produced an uneasy truce, or at least temporary silence, from the Americans. Now that the great money-spinning trip to Moscow and the prospect of reflected European glory is no longer on offer, Hicks and Gillett have less reason to stick around. The squabbling will begin again shortly.
Meanwhile, the North West Counties Football League Division Two has a new member. The 2008-09 season is the debut campaign of AFC Liverpool, a club currently in need of a manager, a badge and matchday stewards. Once he's stopped feeling sorry for himself, David Moores could at least give them a few quid.