Sunday, October 10, 2010

NESV Walkout Feared After Administration And Stadium Dilemma

The construction of a new
stadium is central to the club's
fortunes and the local Anfield
Jamie Carragher's testimonial
committee had three basic
wishes when, more than two
years ago, they started preparing
for his big day. Everton would
provide the opposition; local
charities would receive the
proceeds; and the game would
be the first at Liverpool's grand
new stadium on Stanley Park. On
4 September this year they
fulfilled two out of three. At
Like many before them, they
were long ago resigned to the
fact that option three was an
The frustrations of Carragher's
committee were trivial and brief
in comparison to those suffered
by Liverpool supporters, and by
residents of one of the most
deprived local authority wards in
Britain, for whom a new stadium
was presented as key to
regeneration and 1,000 new
jobs in the late 1990s.
This week, given the right result
in the high court, New England
Sports Ventures will be tasked
with delivering an arena that is
essential both to the revival of
Liverpool FC and a community.
The contentment of Fernando
Torres and promised transfer
sprees deliver headlines that win
immediate support for
prospective new owners, but it is
how quickly they construct a
solution to a 40-year-old problem
will determine Liverpool's long-
term fortunes.
John W Henry and his 16 fellow
investors in NESV do not yet have
control of Liverpool but there is
already scepticism over their
prospects. The club's astute
former chief executive, Peter
Robinson, identified the
constraints at Anfield when
calling for a joint stadium with
Everton in the late 1960s. It was
an inability to fund a new
stadium that prompted David
Moores to sell to Tom Hicks and
George Gillett, and the main
reason the Americans lost their
business model and trust at
"If they had not been leveraged
then they would have started the
stadium, and we wouldn't be
saying what terrible guys these
are," said Martin Broughton, the
Liverpool chairman attempting to
sell the club against the wishes
of the American co-owners.
As regards the income-
generating potential of a big,
modern stadium, Liverpool have
been left trailing by a growing
number of rivals for more than a
decade. A commitment to build,
and to inject £100m in cash into
the project, was a condition of
the sale process conducted by
Broughton and the chief
executive Christian Purslow, and
it was the track record of NESV in
redeveloping the Fenway Park
home of the Boston Red Sox that
swayed a majority on the
Liverpool board. The club had
received an identical £300m
offer, of which £240m is cash,
from a rival suitor in Asia.
NESV will not arrive blind to the
situation should they be installed
as owners this week. The group
have already held discussions
with the Royal Bank of Scotland
over financing a new stadium
through, as Broughton put it, "a
sensible, normal level of debt and
equity". Joe Anderson, the leader
of Liverpool city council, is also
primed to meet owners he has
welcomed but whose intention
to consider redeveloping Anfield
he opposes.
Liverpool and the Anfield area
have deteriorated in tandem
while the club have remained at
their iconic, atmospheric but
financially constrained 45,362-
capacity home. Given the
respective revenue streams of
England's leading clubs it is no
surprise that Rafael Benítez, and
Gérard Houllier before him,
frequently complained about the
expectation to deliver a first
league title since 1990 on such
an uneven playing field.
In the financial year 2008-09,
Liverpool earned £42m from gate
and match-day income.
Manchester United generated
£109m and Arsenal £100m in the
same period. United's good
fortune in having access to acres
of land to redevelop Old Trafford,
and Arsenal's exhaustive fight to
construct the Emirates, means
they earn more from home
matches per season than from
TV and broadcasting. Liverpool
are among those clubs for whom
TV and broadcasting revenue
outweighs match-day earnings.
Liverpool's commercial income
has tripled in recent years under
director Ian Ayre, however,
helping the club achieve a record
income of £185m in the year
ending 30 July 2009. That, and
Liverpool's mass global appeal,
ensures that in two of the three
main revenue streams for
Premier League clubs –
commercial activities,
broadcasting rights and match-
day – Liverpool fare impressively.
Once the interes

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