Liverpool fans can be
forgiven cautious optimism over the possible takeover by a Chinese billionaire,
but they should remain sceptical until the offer becomes clearer.
It sounds too good to be true: Kenny Huang intends to buy
out the hated Americans George Gillett and Tom Hicks, pay off the club's debts
and provide Roy Hodgson with transfer funds.
If true, that is good news for the club, but it is a familiar promise - few people take
over clubs pledging to cripple them financially.
The truth is we do not know enough about Huang, a
stockbroker by trade, and we have to assume he is motivated by money, not an
undying love for Liverpool.
There will be pressure to rush through the deal so Hodgson
can spend some of Huang's money before the transfer window closes at the end of
And of course we can't expect the Premier League's laughable
Fit and Proper Person test to expose any potential skeletons in the closet. How
do we know they are not jumping out of the frying pan into the fire?
I hope Huang is for real. Even as a Manchester United man I
want Liverpool to be in a healthy state as
they are one of the most iconic teams in the world.
But even if it does work out, it doesn't solve the problem of
foreign ownership in English football.
Clubs bounce around from one tycoon to another, with
businessmen and consortiums trying to make a quick buck out of these great
If I were a Liverpool fan,
I would be sceptical of any foreign owner. You might get lucky with a Randy
Lerner or even a Roman Abramovich - although what will happen to Chelsea if he leaves? -
but you are just as likely to get the Glazers or Eggert Magnusson plunging the
club into debt.
I would want my club to be in British hands, owned by somebody
who understands football.
It is no surprise that the two big leagues that are on the
up - Spain and Germany - do
not allow this sort of thing.
The big Spanish clubs are owned by the supporters, while Germany has
very strict rules for any prospective takeover.
The result is stability, a fan-friendly environment, and a
national game that looks to nurture local talent instead of filling the team
full of expensive imports.
You can make a clear link between the way a country's clubs
are run and national team success. Spanish and German clubs work with the FA to
develop youngsters because they know it is in their long-term interest as well
as the country's.
English clubs are so wrapped up in instant success they have
no interest in such schemes.
If Liverpool are lucky,
they could soon have a new owner to drag them away from their money troubles
and make them genuine title contenders.
If not, there could be more woe on the horizon. And the
future of one of football's greatest clubs really ought to come down to more
than a lucky dip.