Letters to Fans: In Need of a New Direction or Patience Needed?

By Kevin Koczwara

On Monday, Sept. 3, Liverpool’s principal owner John Henry issues a statement on the team’s summer moves and an update on the vision of the team. The open letter to fans came out after a tough, 2-0, loss to Arsenal at home and a failure to lure a replacement forward for Andy Carroll, who went out on loan to West Ham.

In response to Henry’s letter, the supporters group Spirit of Shankly issued a response.  We have both here on the site for you to read.

Open Letter from John W. Henry:

I am as disappointed as anyone connected with Liverpool Football Club that we were unable to add further to our strike force in this summer transfer window, but that was not through any lack of desire or effort on the part of all of those involved. They pushed hard in the final days of the transfer window on a number of forward targets and it is unfortunate that on this occasion we were unable to conclude acceptable deals to bring those targets in.

But a summer window which brought in three young, but significantly talented starters in Joe Allen, Nuri Sahin and Fabio Borini as well as two exciting young potential stars of the future – Samed Yesil and Oussama Assaidi – could hardly be deemed a failure as we build for the future.  

Nor should anyone minimise the importance of keeping our best players during this window. We successfully retained Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Luis Suarez. We greatly appreciate their faith and belief in the club. And we successfully negotiated new, long-term contracts with Luis and with Martin.

No one should doubt our commitment to the club. In Brendan Rodgers we have a talented young manager and we have valued highly his judgement about the make-up of the squad. This is a work in progress. It will take time for Brendan to instill his philosophy into the squad and build exactly what he needs for the long term.

The transfer policy was not about cutting costs. It was – and will be in the future – about getting maximum value for what is spent so that we can build quality and depth. We are avowed proponents of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play agenda that was this week reiterated by Mr Platini – something we heartily applaud. We must comply with Financial Fair Play guidelines that ensure spending is tied to income. We have been successful in improving the commercial side of the club and the monies generated going forward will give us greater spending power in the coming years.

We are still in the process of reversing the errors of previous regimes. It will not happen overnight. It has been compounded by our own mistakes in a difficult first two years of ownership. It has been a harsh education, but make no mistake, the club is healthier today than when we took over.   

Spending is not merely about buying talent. Our ambitions do not lie in cementing a mid-table place with expensive, short-term quick fixes that will only contribute for a couple of years. Our emphasis will be on developing our own players using the skills of an increasingly impressive coaching team. Much thought and investment already have gone into developing a self-sustaining pool of youngsters imbued in the club’s traditions.

That ethos is to win. We will invest to succeed. But we will not mortgage the future with risky spending.

After almost two years at Anfield, we are close to having the system we need in place. The transfer window may not have been perfect but we are not just looking at the next 16 weeks until we can buy again: we are looking at the next 16 years and beyond. These are the first steps in restoring one of the world’s great clubs to its proper status.

It will not be easy, it will not be perfect, but there is a clear vision at work. 

We will build and grow from within, buy prudently and cleverly and never again waste resources on inflated transfer fees and unrealistic wages. We have no fear of spending and competing with the very best but we will not overpay for players.

We will never place this club in the precarious position that we found it in when we took over at Anfield. This club should never again run up debts that threaten its existence.

Most of all, we want to win. That ambition drives every decision. It is the Liverpool way. We can and will generate the revenues to achieve that aim. There will be short-term setbacks from time to time, but we believe we have the right people in place to bring more glory to Anfield.

Finally, I can say with authority that our ownership is not about profit. Contrary to popular opinion, owners rarely get involved in sports in order to generate cash. They generally get involved with a club in order to compete and work for the benefit of their club. It’s often difficult. In our case we work every day in order to generate revenues to improve the club. We have only one driving ambition at Liverpool and that is the quest to win the Premier League playing the kind of football our supporters want to see. That will only occur if we do absolutely the right things to build the club in a way that makes sense for supporters, for us and for those who will follow us. We will deliver what every long-term supporter of Liverpool Football Club aches for.

JOHN W HENRY [courtesy Liverpoolfc.com]

Here is Spirit of Shankly’s response in full:

Tuesday 04 September 2012 at 13:28

Following yet another summer where off the pitch activities at Liverpool Football Club have dominated the headlines, we once again find the club ownership attempting to explain away business decisions that have overshadowed footballing matters.

Spirit of Shankly reiterates its stance that the position of manager at Liverpool Football Club should be supported with all of the resources at the club’s disposal. However, events of last Friday and the subsequent “open letter” from the club’s Principal Owner, John W Henry, indicate that almost two years into FSG’s ownership of the club this is not yet the case.

As pointed out by the union in May, there remains no ownership presence on this side of the Atlantic. It is our opinion that this situation has led directly to the “mistakes” alluded to in Mr Henry’s open letter. Should the club’s absentee owners not wish to establish a full-time base in Liverpool, it remains imperative that they appoint a Chief Executive of a calibre commensurate with the club’s global status, to act with the full authority of the owners in their absence. Without this Chief Executive, it is far from sufficient for a club of Liverpool’s stature to have a part-time Chairman, based on another continent, with various other interests, and from whom little or nothing of consequence is seen or heard. In case FSG need reminding, they are now employing their third manager, have already dispensed with the services of their Director of Football and now accusatory fingers are pointing in the direction of their Managing Director.

 
The questions posed of FSG by Spirit of Shankly during the close season remain unanswered. If the board is based in Boston, why has no Liverpool-based Chief Executive been appointed to oversee the club’s affairs? It is almost two years since Liverpool Football Club was sold to FSG, with the stadium development being a condition of the sale, yet still no decisions have been made and still communication with fans and neighbouring residents alike remains patchy at best. Commendably FSG will not sanction the spending of money the club has not got, but why not increase the money available to the club through selling shares to supporters?

There comes a point at any football club where the Chairman has to step forward on behalf of the board and be held accountable for decisions that they have made and strategies that they have implemented. With key questions continuing to go unanswered, Spirit of Shankly suggests it is time for Tom Werner to be held accountable as Chairman of Liverpool Football Club. After all, the buck stops with him, not with those acting with his authority and not with people no longer at the club.

[Courtesy SpiritofShankly.com]

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2 thoughts on “Letters to Fans: In Need of a New Direction or Patience Needed?

  1. I understand the email from John Henry and appreciate his effort but do think there are some open ends that should be addressed. I also agree with SOS and their thoughts except for the idea of selling shares to supporters. The last this LFC needs is the shareholding supporters thinking they should have a say in day to day operations.

    Like

  2. Pingback: An Open Letter to Liverpool Owner John Henry | The Red Letter

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