‘This Means More’. Maybe it does, but only to the supporters.
“We had this historical figure, Bill Shankly, a Scottish socialist. Today, when we speak about business questions, we ask ourselves: what would Shankly do?”
Less than six months ago, CEO of Liverpool, Peter Moore, said that the men at the top of Liverpool FC try to emulate Bill Shankly’s views when running the club.
Well, they’ve misjudged this one then.
It’s been announced that Liverpool will put some members of its staff, affected by the Premier League’s suspension, on the furlough scheme provided by the government. This means that 80% of their normal wage will be funded by the taxpayer. The club added that it will make up the other 20% of their normal wages through its own funds.
LFC are the fifth Premier League club to take advantage of the system, alongside Newcastle, Norwich, Tottenham and Bournemouth.
The scheme, set up in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis, was introduced to help small and medium businesses cope through the upcoming period which will see income reduced drastically.
From a business perspective, Liverpool have made the right decision, but from a moral standpoint, they have done anything but.
Liverpool is a football club that prides itself on its inherent socialistic values and, in recent years, the club have sought to take advantage of the traditions passed on by older generations. This is all fine, as long as it isn’t just talk. They have to back up their words with actions. In this instance, and far too many others, they have frustrated us.
We don’t know exactly who was involved in the decision-making process behind this announcement, but as CEO, Peter Moore, was likely at least consulted. He is a man who consistently talks of his roots, growing up watching Bill Shankly’s Liverpool side. His influence in these matters are, to an extent unknown, but, as CEO, you’d expect him to have at least some say. It would be seriously disappointing if he agreed with the decision to put staff on furlough.
Having met once and heard him speak on many occasions, his heart appears to be in the right place, but some of the decisions that are taken by the club are baffling. Namely, the attempt to trademark the word ‘Liverpool’. Despite his supposed justification for the move, there were flaws in it and fans weren’t convinced. Thankfully, the court ruled that it couldn’t be done.
He took over as Chief Executive Officer from Ian Ayre in 2017, and during his tenure things have gone from strength to strength on the pitch. Liverpool are now the best team in the world and with that brings positivity. There is a good atmosphere around the city about Liverpool. The group of players, which Jurgen Klopp has at his disposal, seem to all be well-grounded. This is no coincidence.
Klopp is, to put it in his own words, “on the left.” In other words he’s a socialist, like his forefather Shankly, and this is reflected in his team’s style of play. Whilst there are standout players, the team is very much a sum of its parts. They work tirelessly for each other on the pitch, dragging each other to winning results.
The nature of Klopp’s political outlook is also interesting. It’s highly unlikely that he would agree with putting the staff on government furlough when there are so many others out there that need the money, not least the NHS.
Last year, Liverpool filed £42million in profit. The amount needed to pay the staff’s wages would be a tiny fraction of that. This is nothing less than taking advantage of a system designed to help those who need it most. It’s something you’d expect of Mike Ashley, but not of FSG, Liverpool’s owners of nearly ten years, who consistently market themselves and the club as a family and more than a business. If this were the case, then surely they wouldn’t have come to this decision which the cast majority of fans will disagree with.
This isn’t a dig purely at FSG. What they have done makes financial sense, but if they care, as they say they do, about the supporters and not their own riches, then they will backtrack on the announcement.
This leads us to another problem. If they do decide to retract the decision taken, why didn’t they know there would be a bad reaction to this beforehand?
It feels like we take one step forwards and two steps backwards with the owners. It took thousands walking out of Anfield for them to halt their ticket price increase. The trademarking of the name is another big black mark against them. They have also contributed to the club’s legacy though.The appointment of Jurgen Klopp, financial stability and rebuilding the Main Stand are all examples of this
Given the progress made under them, on and off the pitch, this feels like a real blow today. If they’re not on the same wavelength as us now, will they ever be?