Thursday, 13 May 2010
I NEVER thought I'd write this, but I'm sick of being a Liverpool fan.
Not sick of Liverpool FC: I still find myself staring at my ticket stubs or thumbing through an old programme and enjoying the fond memories of Istanbul, Dortmund, Cardiff, Barcelona; my first derby win or even my first game, a less than glamourous Rumbelows Cup win over Crewe.
I still feel the emotions rise when I watch the DVD of that night in the Ataturk and I still get riled when faced with a crowing Manc (although there's not too many of them about right now).
So as I say, I still love the club.
But the being a fan bit? Well I'm sick of the soap opera, peeved with the politics and right now the whole thing has left me feeling a bit worn out and fatigued; my passion has been sapped.
Months ago, I glanced at the fixture list and I'd mentally pencilled in the Hull game as a trip I'd be making.
End of season, day in the sun, couple of bevvies, a laugh, and hopefully a comprehensive victory for the Mighty Reds.
That's how it went in my head anyway.
But who was I kidding? I keep making that mistake – thinking football is still the way it used to be. It's not – not at Liverpool anyway.
The Liverpool I know had its heart ripped from it and thrown in the Mersey long ago. Now it's all about being pro-Rafa or anti-Rafa. About belonging to one forum but hating another. About blaming the owners for ruining our club or claiming it's an excuse. About believing the Rafa stories, the Gerrard stories or the Purslow stories – or not believing them.
All in all it's a whole lot of in-fighting and that has punched my enthusiasm in the solar plexus and left it rolling on the floor and gasping for air.
So I didn't go to the Hull match – didn't even try to get a ticket, and after briefly toying with the idea of tracking down an ale house screening it 'on the foreign', I settled for listening to Aldo and co on Radio City.
The match, well you know the score, depressingly familiar – Aldo sounded like he'd had enough, too.
It just washed over me, I was barely arsed. In fact, the most excited I got was when Chelsea went 2-0 up and I knew the Mancs wouldn't be lifting number 19. How sad is that?
So that was that and it was back to the politics. Rafa Benitez referring to "senior sources" on several occasions in his press conference, a clear reference to the planting of information in the media by those "senior sources". The same senior sources that took it upon themselves to talk about players with other clubs without the manager's knowledge.
That was like throwing a piece of meat to the hungry hounds – off we went again: the manager is out of order, Purslow is out of order, Rafa rubbed his hands together once (that really is a rumour going around, well part of it anyway), Gerrard doesn't care, Madrid want him, he's definitely going, it's Lucas's fault...and on and on and on until you're left rocking yourself in the darkness, mumbling and praying for mercy.
The thing is, if anyone is rubbing their hands together and thinking about money, it's Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Because while we slug it out amongst ourselves – falling out on forums, arguing in boozers, even scrapping at the match – they continue to rape and pillage our club relatively – in terms of our worldwide (or even match-going) support – unchallenged.
The debt is mounting up, the loan from the off-shore company to the club is growing – and what are the majority of our support doing about it? Nothing.
Yes, there's Spirit of Shankly – they've done a sterling job. They have sent out the message that Liverpool fans will not just roll over and have their belly tickled by the carpet-bagging American pair.
But their ranks contain approximately 5,000 members – a fraction of the people who attend Anfield regularly and a mere spec on the radar when global support for Liverpool is totted up.
So why are so many doing so little? Are they burying their head in the sand? Can they not concentrate long enough to get their head around what Hicks and Gillett are doing to the club? Or are they just buying the spin and waiting for Sky Sports to tell them about it?
There's so many messages flying around the world about Liverpool FC that perhaps they are just not hearing the right one – the one that says Hicks and Gillett are ruining our club, dragging it down from its perch with barely a kick or a scream and pointing it in the direction of the road Leeds and Newcastle took after financial mismanagement – the road to nowhere.
It's a road the club is on now, despite what new chairman Martin Broughton tells us. Something will happen in months, people are interested, he says. Exactly what managing director Christian Purslow told us when he arrived.
We've gained another suit, but as a club we're still shivering in the cold, stark naked, looking in at the Premier League and Champions League parties knowing we've got no chance of an invite.
Meanwhile, the banks have extended deadlines, the interest – at £110,000 A DAY – continues to mount and Hicks and Gillett sit thousands of miles away, sitting and waiting for the buyer that never comes.
But for some all that doesn't matter. They want Benitez out and Jose Mourinho in. It doesn't matter if we haven't got money, he's got to go and Jose? Well, he'll happily kiss goodbye to Inter Milan, ignore a possible offer from Real Madrid and walk into a club on its knees who will pay him less than he can get elsewhere. It would be career suicide. It makes no sense at all. But still people say it.
That kind of debate suits the Americans just fine. It's another distraction and another step away from what would really get them thinking – mass, organised protest. Boycotts. Pressure. More of the same from Spirit of Shankly only with more bodies behind them, more money in the coffers, more helping hands to get the wheels turning.
But for many of the tactics that would truly make them sit up and notice to work it needs the whole of the Liverpool support on board – and as it stands that support is so factious, that doesn't look like happening anytime soon.
Hicks and Gillett can turn to their PR firms (or those "senior sources") to keep the pot bubbling with distractions about players, managers and rubbing hands. It's divide and conquer - the oldest trick in the book. And it's working a treat.
But who needs PR firms when you've got rumours (a speciality of the City of Liverpool), forum 'insiders' and journalists happy to be spoon-fed information and reproduce it as 'fact' without questioning its validity?
It all keeps fans from coming together and fighting the cancer that is eating away at our loved one. And that's exactly what the profit-obsessed charlatans want.
Issue two of Well Red magazine is out later this month. Go to www.wellredmag.co.uk for more information.
Why I'm sick of being a LIVERPOOL FC fan
George Gillett|Liverpool FC|Spirit of Shankly|Tom Hicks|