An Epic Swindle, by Brian Reade
Sunday 22 May 2011
Football has seen many fly-by-night and/or fraudulent club chairmen, but the incumbent at Liverpool in early 2007, David Moores, was neither, just a massive fan who believed he lacked the financial clout or business acumen to take the club further.
So it's a minor tragedy that he was responsible for selling to a pair of American chancers who took his beloved side to the brink of administration. Brian Reade's passionate account of the sorry saga makes no pretence at impartiality – he's a long-term season ticket-holder – but his facts stand up to scrutiny as he dismantles the regime of George Gillett and Tom Hicks, broken promise by broken promise.
While not absolving Gillett – "a patronising gnome in hiking boots" – he fingers Hicks as the prime mover in loading the club with debt, then refusing to walk away with a joint £200m profit when offered the chance to do so by an Arab consortium as the credit crunch bit.
At times Reade overdoes the invective to the detriment of his arguments, but in interviews with Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, Liverpool's homegrown heroes, he offers a valuable insight into why the players didn't feel they could speak out when a tripartite war between the owners and the manager Rafa Benitez was dragging the club inexorably down.
Reade has a keen eye for the more ridiculous aspects of the affair, quoting Gillett as thinking Gerrard was gay after reading a report that the captain was "marrying his long-term partner, Alex", but ends by making the more serious claim that fan power, principally in the guise of the Spirit of Shankly and Kop Faithful pressure groups, played a vital part in persuading judges and the Royal Bank of Scotland finally to oust the hated owners.
A valuable primer for fans of other clubs in future peril.
Published by Quercus in paperback, £12.99
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