Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mr Popularity Goes to England

Tom Hicks has picked the wrong fight.

It is one thing to torment and torture the Texas Rangers fan base. It is a similar or perhaps easier proposition to frustrate the Dallas Stars fan base. But, friends, make no mistake, it is quite another to instigate a battle with the fans of one of the most powerful sports institutions in the world, Liverpool FC.

The fans of that team see it as a lifelong obsession, a way of life, and hope every morning.

Tom Hicks saw it as another passionless money making opportunity, they say.

Here we go again.

Here is what I have learned about Tom Hicks over the last several years. He knows a ton about making money. He knows plenty about getting his name in the papers. He knows very little about competing for wins at the cost of profits, anymore. And he seems to find it impossible to talk straight to the supporters of his teams.

Again, in Texas, all you have are either indifferent fans, or unorganized angry fans who are too few in numbers to have their voices heard.

But, in Liverpool, the masses have spoken. From a story below, let this message sink in:

In the previous 113 years of its existence, Liverpool FC had never been subject to a single demonstration by its fans.

In the last eight months alone there have been three – all of which have occurred while Hicks and Gillett have acted as self-styled club “custodians”.

They want him out. They think he doesn’t care whether Liverpool wins (he doesn’t), and they surely don’t think he cares if they snap their 18 season drought of not winning the English Premiership (he doesn’t).

I knew this was destined to go this way. I said this the day he bought the team. There are soda companies and radio stations and other investments that you can mess with and only the employees would care. But, when you mess with a sports institution, untold millions look to you to care as much as they do in their team. And when you obviously don’t – I suggest 1 year after buying the team that he can still barely name 5 players – you are burned in effigy.

He is a wonderful business man. He is a horrible sports owner. He cares about profits, not wins. If Jerry Jones operated this way, he would be run out of town. But, with the Rangers and Stars fan bases, Hicks can get away with this. Liverpool? Once again, he picked the wrong fight.

In Dallas, our show is not particularly appreciated by Hicks and his people. They see us as unfair and irresponsible. But, I think the rage that he has created in Europe in LESS THAN 1 YEAR, validates much of what we have said over the years.

• He speaks in double talk.
• He reverses direction routinely.
• He will not put up his money anymore (post A-Rod) to pay for anything.
• He thinks a successful season is a profitable season, and winning is a nice bonus.
• He thinks that if you are going to lose, why not lose cheaper?
• And last but not least, he doesn’t like hockey or soccer. He likes money.
Below, please find several examples of how they feel overseas.

A solid account of how things stand right now

Almost a year on from having the red carpet rolled out for him at Anfield, the Texan will tonight to see the Kop attempt to pull the rug from beneath him in an unprecedented demonstration against the Liverpool hierarchy.

By picking a fight with Rafa Benitez – the most popular Liverpool manager since Kenny Dalglish – Hicks has totally alienated the Reds support which will use tonight’s league game against Aston Villa as the vehicle for their discontent.
How ironic that just six months ago Hicks was talking of his visions of the Kop at the long planned, but still not delivered, new Anfield as the orchestra to whose tune the team would play.

Tonight, the Kop will be playing a tune. But far from being sweet, the music will be angry and it will be directed at him and his co-owner, who has remained strangely silent given the firestorm which is raging around him.

“The fans want them out, unconditionally,” said Kevin Sampson, of Reclaim The Kop. “It's as simple as that. “They’re no good for us; no good for the club.
“As the world is seeing it right now, Liverpool is the most welcoming city and its people are the most generous hosts you're going to find anywhere.

“But cross us, and that's that. We're enemies, for life. Ask Mackenzie. Ask Thatcher. Ask Boris The Buffoon.

“These two tried to capitalise on our good will and our unswerving love for this club. But they underestimated us badly, and badly underestimated our love for Rafa.
“The moment they confirmed our worst misgivings and admitted they'd been plotting to oust Benitez, they may as well have started saddling the horses.

“That's it. They are finished here. The fans despise them as passionately as we hate any football rival – in fact, at the moment, it's worse.

“Not that they've shown much nous, but if they have a shred of common sense they'll take the DIC money and gallop out of town.”

In the previous 113 years of its existence, Liverpool FC had never been subject to a single demonstration by its fans.

In the last eight months alone there have been three – all of which have occurred while Hicks and Gillett have acted as self-styled club “custodians”.

Here is a point by point recap of the Hicks sins at Liverpool

It is very difficult to be brief and yet adequately convey the overwhelming sense of frustration Liverpool fans feel towards the club’s owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Liverpool Football Club has a very large worldwide fan base. The majority of these fans are lifelong supporters of The Reds and the club’s rich history and traditions are a source of great pride to us all.

When Hicks and Gillett took over our club last year, they stated that they would be the custodians of these traditions, and yet in just 11 month’s in charge they have managed to undo decades of work and perhaps irreparably damaged the universally respected image of the club within the game.

However, this proved to be just the first on a long list of the early promises that they have broken, here is an example of a few others.

A new stadium: This was the main reason the previous owners sold the club. Anfield is the home of Liverpool FC, but its capacity is 50% less then that of our main rivals, which puts us at a severe financial disadvantage. So a new stadium with an increased capacity is essential to our future. We had the plans in place but what was needed was the funding. Hicks and Gillett promised that this would be provided and building would commence last October, but the reality proved to be somewhat different.

Tom Hicks didn’t like the stadium plans and wanted them redrawn. A few month’s later, he very publicly unveiled his expensively redrawn plans of an impressive looking futuristically designed stadium. However, a couple of month’s later the club had to embarrassingly reveal that it actually couldn’t afford to build this design and the whole project has had to return to the drawing board.

Transfer funds: Hicks and Gillett promised that the manager would have a larger transfer budget to strengthen the playing squad, but once again the reality proved otherwise. During the summer we brought in some welcome additions to the squad at a total cost of £43million, however almost half of this expenditure was recovered through player sales and this brought our net expenditure to approx £23million.

This figure is pretty close to the kind of transfer budget we had under our previous owners, so it could hardly be considered an increase. To put that figure into some kind of context, Manchester United won the Premier League last season and we finished 21 points behind them. And yet they still went out and spent over £70million strengthening their squad over the summer but our owners expect us to catch-up and surpass them by spending approx 50% less.

Supporting the manager: Hicks and Gillett also promised their unwavering support of our manager Rafa Benitez, but this was another promise that didn’t last too long. A couple of month’s ago, Benitez had an early opportunity to secure the signings of two quality players on “free” transfers, blocked by the owners. While the manager didn’t discuss the details of this in public, his frustration with the owners became apparent in some of his press conferences at the time and Tom Hicks responded to this by using the media to publicly reprimand him.

Our club has always prided itself on never doing its dirty laundry in public and our supporters were not happy that Hicks chose this approach. Fearing the manager may be facing dismissal, many thousands of fans marched through the streets and many thousands more signed online petitions to show their support for the manager.
However, Tom Hicks revealed to the media in recent days that while all this was happening, both he and Gillett were holding talks with Jurgen Klinsmann to come in as a possible replacement for the boss. Leaving aside the fact that Klinsmann is vastly under-qualified for the role in comparison to our current boss, our supporters are extremely annoyed that the considerable time and effort they put into organising their show of support for the manager, was totally ignored by the owners.
Club debt: Hicks and Gillett also promised that unlike the Glazers takeover of Manchester United, their takeover of Liverpool would not involve saddling the club with more debt. However, the £230million loan they used to buy the club is due for repayment at the end of February and they have attempted to repay this by using the clubs assets as collateral against a further £350million loan. Once again, this is clearly the total opposite of what they had earlier promised but thankfully some of the other members of our board have blocked the move.

Finally, in the year they’ve been in charge, Tom Hicks and George Gillett have brought our club nothing but frustration and embarrassment, and our supporters have had enough. We are tired of the broken promises and the disrespect they have shown us and we want them out of our club before they do more damage, and I can assure you that this time our voices will not be ignored!

The Hicks scouting report

As has previously been recognized being an unpopular owner is nothing new for the Texan. He may be so low that he could walk under a snake's belly with a ten gallon cowboy hat on but certainly doesn't mind living amongst the ire of fans who while not able to knock on his front door in the Preston Hollow district of Dallas demanding answers he would consider them close enough to be heard loud and clear.

Whether Texas Rangers fans are as passionate and motivated as their Anfield equivalents is another matter though a quick search of the internet suggests they may well be. Not only that they warned us.

The players are ticked, too

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is concerned that the battle for control of the club is effecting the players.

Gerrard told Setanta Sports after Monday's 2-2 draw with Aston Villa: "It is not just this week, it has been going on for some time and it is certainly not helping the players.

"I have got to be careful what I say about the situation but it is certainly not helping the team.

"We know what is going on, but as players you have got a job to do on the pitch.

"You try to put what is going on off the pitch to the back of your mind - but sometimes it is impossible, when it is every day."

Liverpool is our club and we want it back, yanks out!

Other Links:

Are the Cowboys losing
the staff to the Dolphins?
…it would appear so…

Three Cowboys defensive assistant coaches are expected to follow new Dolphins coach Tony Sparano to Miami and rejoin former Dallas coach Bill Parcells, the new head of football operations.

Cowboys assistants Todd Bowles (secondary), Paul Pasqualoni (linebackers) and Kacy
Rodgers (defensive line) didn't sign contract extensions, so they become free agents today. They didn't make the trip to the Senior Bowl workouts with the Cowboys' staff and owner Jerry Jones.

According to a source, the Dolphins have offered positions to Bowles as assistant head coach, Pasqualoni as defensive coordinator and Rodgers as defensive line coach.
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips will begin looking for replacements while in Mobile. Phillips said the remainder of the staff will return next season, including special-teams coach Bruce Read, whose coverage units struggled.

Phillips wanted all three assistants back, but the network he has developed over 31 years could make it easier to find replacements. He and Jones had worked on contingency plans for replacements before the team's season ended.
Last week, the Cowboys dodged losing a big piece of the offensive coaching staff when Jones re-signed offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.

Chip Brown with an interesting Chris Simms column

As crazy as it sounds, Applewhite's return to Texas may ensure that Simms won't be back in Austin anytime soon.

Forever linked at UT, Applewhite and Simms are and always have been friendly. But Simms is reluctant to return to Austin, according to Babers, one of Simms' closest friends.

"Chris loved his time at Texas. He loves Austin. The city is a huge reason he chose UT. But some of the fans treated him horrible," Babers said.

Babers was in Simms' Escalade with former Longhorns Bo Scaife and Montrell Flowers a
few days after Texas' 14-3 loss to Oklahoma in 2001. Simms had been intercepted for a touchdown in the closing minutes of the game.

They turned onto a street lined by UT fraternity houses when Simms' vehicle was pelted with cups of beer.

"We stopped the car and almost got into a fight that day," Babers said.

Simms also had to change his cellphone number after it was posted on the Internet by an angry fan and endured nasty, anonymous e-mails. Simms, one of the most popular players on the UT team, handled it all with class and his unsinkable smile.

Babers, a cornerback for the Longhorns from 1999-02, talks to Simms all the time. They talk about Simms' family – wife, Danielle, and their 2-year-old daughter – and about the incredible Italian restaurants in New York's Broadway district that Danielle's family owns

"Chris is happy. He really is," said Babers, who lives in Austin after four seasons in the NFL. "But he hasn't been back to Austin. I tell him all the time how much people would love to see him – that they have huge pictures of him up at the Texas football complex."

Simms, who didn't respond to an interview request for this story, has never said it, but Babers is convinced that he wanted to return to Texas triumphantly after making a name for himself in the NFL.

"Definitely," Babers said.

Simms' 26-6 record as a starter at Texas, third only to Vince Young's (30-2) and Bobby Layne's (28-6), was diminished by some because of his 0-2 record against Oklahoma and a meltdown against Colorado in the 2001 Big 12 title game. With a win against the Buffaloes, whom UT had beaten, 41-7, earlier in the year, the Longhorns would have played Miami in the Rose Bowl for the national title.

A Rangers/Packers fan blogs about his Green Bay pain

Fabulous recount of the life and times of Bobby Fischer

Star Wars – Coming to America

Star Wars Coming to America - Watch more free videos

Craig has an email that indicates he has never seen Animal House:

Listen to this promo.....last time I checked the German's didn't bomb Pearl Harbor.


Craig, please see video below…

Germans Bomb Pearl Harbor


cracker1743 said...

I've always said it: baseball fans don't have the stones that soccer fans do. I wish those Liverpool fans could catch Hicks in a dark alley one night. Soccer hooligans unite!

Tony said...

Dark alley? You must not know Liverpool fans. If they know he is within smelling distance, they are going to rape his face.

Observer said...

No doubt Hicks knows how to play the good-old-boy network to make himself some money, but wow, what an a-hole. Like a lot of rich people, he thinks that because he's smart about money, he's automatically smart about everything else. Sorry, pal.

Oh, and I wonder how many emails you and Dan will get this week from Packer fans? Now that their annual one-week window of "we think we're better than the Cowboys" has passed, I guess they're too busy to email.

cracker1743 said...

Face rape? We should be so lucky. Has there ever been a soccer assassination before? *crosses fingers*

Jay Beerley said...

Seriously, what kind of accountability is there to an owner of a business? Has the Better Business Bureau ever been called on account of a sports team? Is that possible?
The teams don't deserve to have fans not attend the games. What to do...what to do....

A Silence Production said...

Stars/Ranger fans, spring training demonstration has been called, bring out your torches and pitchforks!

hockalees said...

As a Gooner, I will say up front that it couldn't happen to a better team!

But I said as much on this blog when it was announced, it was only a matter of time until Hicks screwed it up-- and for all the reasons that Bob stated so eloquently above.

I agree that he doesn't care about winning... owning the Rangers, and raking in profits every year has shown him that the free-spending days of the Dallas Stars Stanley Cup teams are no longer necessary.

I will differ with the posts from the Liverpool fans in one big area. You may love Rafa, but the reason why you cannot win the Prem is all about HIM not Hicks. Is it Hicks who plays Kuyt ahead of Babel or Crouch? Is it Hicks' rotation policy that sits a healthy Torres for so many games this season? Is it Hicks who wears the number 4 and disappears against ManUtd?

You may be loyal to Benitez, but he and Stevie G have hid behind this Hicks fiasco to mask a season of disappointing play. You can get your new owners from Dubai (and quite frankly, they should hold out another couple of weeks because Hicks' asking price will only go down)but until you address Rafa's part in this, you'll be back calling for his head.

Carlos said...

i just want to say great job writing this blog here. my friend can vouche for me as ive been saying the same thing about hicks for a couple years now and as soon as i saw he bought liverpool i thought man, those fans are going to hate him fast and simply not put up with him just like you wrote. he is a terrible owner and i think this translates into english football or american baseball the sport doesn't matter it's the man. he has a lot of money, great. he's a good business man, great. he doesn't know sports or if he does he doesn't show it. he's a bad owner straight up and the sooner he leaves the sports world the better north texas will be and north england.
also let's take this oppourtunity to say keep supporting and watching soccer, it's a great great game!! let's start getting more premier league and spanish league and italian league games on american TV so people can see for themselves how good these games really are and how talented these players really are.

Jake said...

Could Hicks off himself Heath Ledger Style? Too soon?

TroyA said...

Soccer, now there is a real sport. A sport mostly for guys so short when they walk on the beach and fart they get sand in their eyes.