As the dust settles on a mad scheme, Blind Hammer Looks At the motivations behind the attempted US-Led corruption of the spirit of our Game.
Out of the failed so-called “Super Six”, now more like sulky/supercilious six Only Tottenham had UK based owners.
It is now clear that this sorry scheme, and especially the decision to drop their bombshell last weekend, was dreamt up in USA Boardrooms. Arab owned Manchester City and Russian owned Chelsea were the first to jump ship claiming that they were never leading the scheme.
This arrogant plot was underwritten by US investment bank JP Morgan with around six billion dollars (£4.3billion) in debt funding.
In global market terms, the jewels in the crown of English football are Liverpool and Manchester United. The US money men have made sure that they have grabbed control of these assets.
The worst example of US acquisition was the abject, unsavoury surrender of Manchester United to the Glazers. The Glazers used a leveraged buy out scheme which saddled the Old Trafford outfit with the responsibility for paying the Glazers back for a massive proportion of the loan they used to buy the club in the first place. incidentally, this practice was outlawed by the NFL in the USA where potential owners could only saddle clubs with 15% of loan monies used in a purchase.
At Liverpool, US-based John W. Henry normally takes a lower profile but his scramble to join his compatriots in this sordid self-aggrandisement scheme revealed where his priorities were. stance even his Manager could not support.
Stan Kroenke, the US owner of Arsenal had a higher profile. He has been used to outraging fans before, including a as owner of his hometown St Louis he moved the Rams Franchise from there to Los Angeles for business reasons.
Despite their protestations that this failed scheme was a response to pandemic pressures the reality was very different. Any corporate money man or trader will tell you that the fear associated with massive investment is risk and unforeseen events. For money to be safe you need predictability and growth.
What these US money men hated above all was jeopardy. This is why US based corporately funded sport removes jeopardy by continuing to eliminate the risk of relegation.
Above all, this season, they would have been horrified and appalled at the sight of Leicester and West Ham occupying Champions League places. The very same league places that their control of big money would normally expect them to occupy by right. In the context of existing Pandemic budget pressures, the sight of West Ham occupying 4th place must have been anathema to Liverpool’s Henry and Arsenal’s Kroenke. Their structural domination of the league had already been disrupted by Leicester. It was intolerable that West Ham looked set to join the party.
The even UK based Levy was panicked into sacking Jose Mourinho: as he faced the prospect of having to pay for a £1bn stadium without the mega riches of Europe to help pay for it.
This corporate money led the drive to remove the jeopardy of competition sucks the life out of our game.
The excitement of our game is based not just on the joy of triumphs but the fear and dread of failure. The joy of a supporter escaping relegation is only realised if others have to experience the despair demotion brings.
Our game is based on a pyramid where even the highest clubs must face failure. I personally rejoiced along with West Bromwich supporters when they upset the odds by beating Chelsea 5-2.
The fact that West Ham just might prevent Liverpool from gathering the riches of the Champions League should be a cause for celebration in the unpredictability of football rather than causing dread in the Boardrooms.
These money men need to be kicked out of football, a game that they will never understand.
David Griffith aka Blind Hammer
Blind Hammer looks at the future for Antonio
Antonio’s latest hamstring setback is a disappointment. In a memorable season, his brilliance has flickered only briefly. Unfortunately, he cannot provide the main attacking focal point in the next 2 seasons.
Michael Owen, who also relied on explosive pace, was never the same after his recurrent hamstrings. Sadly if players like Owen or Antonio ease up 5% you only get 50% impact.
Yet Antonio can still become a legend for us. he could still have a full-throttle, match-winning impact from the bench.
Football has a history of deadly super subs.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær had a renowned sub career. He scored 28 goals from the bench, most famously in the 1999 Champions League Final.
However, if Antonio wants a role model it is not Solskjær he should look to but David Fairclough.
When I was young, attending Liverpool University, I watched in wonder at what seemed countless games in which the original super-sub exploded into the game late on, devastating defenders in his wake.
As soon as Fairclough started warming up the Kop reacted and built up a frenzy of excitement.
Fairclough destroyed defences from the bench, scoring 1 goal in 3 Despite only limited minutes. I remember, I could see in those days, that even when not scoring he ran tiring defences ragged.
This is precisely the role I could see for Antonio. Fairclough was used as a weapon. His role was not just to rescue games, though famously he did that. Instead, Liverpool used him to mercilessly ram home their advantage.
In 1976 I saw him burst off the bench to beat six tiring Everton defenders before firing past goalkeeper Dai Davies. Fairclough’s most famous strike though came in 1977 when, he, again, from the bench, scored the winner in the closing minutes in a memorable European Cup Quarter Final comeback against a despairing St Etienne.
If West Ham do make it into Europe Antonio can take heart from Fairclough’s example. He too, could have an even more famous future. He can still become a Hammers European legend.
David Griffith aka Blind Hammer
After the Man United Defeat Blind Hammer looks at the wider perspective
The Man United defeat pricked our bubbles. Still Moyes consistently warned that there would be bumps in this journey.
There remains a massive resource disparity between West Ham and most of our current lofty challengers. . Our second best player is a Manchester United reject who could not force his way into their first team.
The wider perspective is that, for once, we are over achieving. West Ham’s wage bill and turnover should, see us competing around 8th . The actual par may vary slightly because of the yo yoing relegation of clubs like Villa and Newcastle.
Happily both Leicester and West Ham are punching above their weight. West Ham are over achieving after decades, Payet season excepted, of under performing.
The Moyes project though has the opportunity to raise this par.
Some fans hoped for a sugar daddy investor ready to pour billions into West Ham to pump the club to a higher level.
More realistically raising our par means growing the club.
By Blind Hammer