New owners can help rekindle Liverpool fans’ Anfield faith
When Tom Hicks and George Gillett first stepped into Anfield there was a feeling of great optimism among the fans of Liverpool Football Club.
Just under two years earlier Liverpool had won the European Cup for the first time in 21 years and there was to be another Champions League final appearance just three months after the American duo arrived on Merseyside.
Liverpool were not quite strong enough to compete for the title, but with the recent success in Europe and funds supposedly coming in to the club from the new owners, there was a belief Liverpool could well be on track to win number 19.
Three-and-a-half years on and a much bleaker picture can be painted of the goings on at Anfield.
The European success hasn’t been sustained, with the club having to settle for a place in the Europa League rather than with the cream of the crop in Europe’s elite club competition.
On the domestic front Liverpool are looking considerably further from the league title than they did in 2007, with the prediction of Champions League qualification appearing to be somewhat optimistic.
Gone are the days of exciting signings and squad building. Now all Liverpool fans hope for is for at least some investment to be made in the squad during the transfer window, with the last two years seeing the club make a profit on their dealings in the summer and January markets.
Three years ago Liverpool fans discussed European away trips, new signings and potential title success. Now the pubs around Anfield are rife with talk of refinancing deals, debt and the club’s financial structure.
Perhaps the only thing around Anfield that hasn’t changed is Stanley Park – the proposed site for the new 60,000-seater stadium that would be Liverpool’s new home. The site, other than some cosmetic improvements by the council, remains in exactly the same state as it was on the day Hicks and Gillett arrived.
As every refinancing package has fallen through, as every potential bidder for the club has disappeared and as success on the pitch has become more and more limited, supporters have started to lose their faith in modern day football.
A club whose fans are regarded by many as the best in the world has betrayed them to the point where they begin to question their love for the team which has sent them on an emotional rollercoaster from the first time they stepped foot onto the Kop or watched from their televisions around the world.
If the club’s debts are called in by the Royal Bank of Scotland then the club may finally be able to move on with new owners, find the investment needed in the squad and the stadium, and ultimately bring success back to Anfield.
But Hicks and Gillett have done incredible amounts of damage to Liverpool supporters’ faith in the club, and only when some true custodians are found and most importantly, when the Liverpool way of doing things is restored, will the club be able to move on with every supporter behind it.