In the two minutes and 28 seconds that Liverpool owner John Henry sat uncomfortably in front of the camera, pushing towards supporters who forced a shameful turnaround on the greedy Premier League six, one thing stands out: repeated references to “your club”. It’s not our club. Yours.
“I am sorry and only I am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought out in the past few days,” he said quietly. “It’s something I won’t forget. And it shows the power that fans have today and rightly so.”
The owners of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur should follow their example today with their own apologies, but painting their messages like anything other than PR trying to regain some favor would let them off the hook too lightly.
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They do not deserve any credit for rowing on a terrible grab of money that was at least ignorant of history and the most important stakeholders.
We will hardly hear Roman Abramovich, Stan Kroenke, or Joe Lewis; investors who should never be considered custodians of the institutions they have entered. More likely it will be Bruce Buck, Vinai Venkatashem and Daniel Levy, which is fine considering they were all supposed to play their roles as well.
But to suggest that they “saw the point,” that venture capitalists and oligarchs understood why the domestic pyramid must remain untouchable, is clearly wrong.
The six only realized that their goals of creating what many critics called a cartel were unsustainable because of a revolt of supporters that should have left anyone who broadcast their disgust feeling proud when she woke up this morning.
The scenes on Fulham Broadway last night were dazzling. One of Florentino Perez’s big excuses for gathering dozens of clubs was finding a way to engage a younger audience, one that is reportedly more interested in Fifa’s computer games than watching the real thing.
But that argument has always been nonsense because how many teenagers and young people can afford tickets to watch their teams play? They appreciated them for going to matches, instead of deciding they just weren’t interested and maybe the Real Madrid president could show some of those pictures the next time he appears on TV to highlight his big vision.
Let us also remember that Chelsea spent Sunday evening and Monday framing themselves as the last to board the train as if FOMO was some justifiable excuse for sacrificing more than a century of history. At first they could say no, and those fans should never, ever forget that. Going back after realizing that the plan was doomed is hardly the reason for the loan.
So what’s going on now? The rains will roar for days and weeks.
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There is a possibility of imposing fines depending on the signed contracts, especially all the documents related to the loan of 3 billion pounds agreed with JP Morgan to finance the grotesque separation.
And closer home relations should be preserved and renewed with the other 14 clubs in the Premier League, FA and even broadcasters. But the most important thing is the fans who have been driving for too long.
This was a spectacular example of the power that fans can still have when they are united and proactive. Who knows that this could be the beginning of a wider land reclamation project?