Football played down the right wing

Last updated : 07 February 2007 By Artie Fufkin

The Liverpool board has accepted the offer from US of A 'tycoons' Gillett and Hicks. If all goes to plan, the Stanley Park stadium project is saved in the nick of time, and the quangoes of Liverpool can spend their cash as planned - we look forward to scouring their accounting ledgers under the Freedom of Information Act over the next few years.

What is interesting is how the political map of football club ownership in this country has suddenly shifted towards Bush Republicanism at a time when the UK has never been more opposed to the USA and its president's policies, especially over Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Hicks-Gillet acquisition is like other US moves into the Premiership. Unlike billionaire Roman Abramovich, who snapped up Chelsea because he had suddenly fallen in love with football and it was the best value club on offer at the time, the Glazers at United, Lerners at Villa and Hicks-Gillett have invested in slices of English football purely for the unprecedented bounty of TV money that will come on-stream through the new Premiership deal.

The Liverpool deal is all about commerce and influence. Neither Hicks nor Gillett understand football, but have owned franchises in other sports with varying success. What they do know is media. Hicks is a driving force behind ClearChannel, which virtually monpolises radio in the States, and Gillett was running Florida's WTVT when it bankrupted him 13 years ago. They know the value of Premiership broadcasting rights, and they know they might be able to exand into other areas of business in the UK once they have a foothold.

With US corporatism comes politics. Through the MBNA Corp (that's the credit card co.) the Lerner Family, including Villa owner and MBNA chairman Randy, contributed nearly $600,000 to the Bush campaign in 2004, the fourth highest amongst corporate donors.

Malcolm Glazer gave $25,000 to the Republican's arch rivals, the Democratic Party, in 1996, but ten years on his sons donated thousands of dollars to the (unsuccessful) campaign of rightwing Republican George Allen (who, incidentally, was alleged to have made racist slurs to black students by

And so it is with Liverpool's new owners. Hicks is a 'Bush pioneer', contributing over $200,000 to Dubya's Far Right Republican campaign coffers in 2000 and 2004. Gillett, the $500m 'billionaire', was on an elite list of the Grand Old Party's biggest benefactors over $100,000 in 1988.

What will be interesting is how the renowned champions of the downtrodden on Merseyside will react to the Hicks-Gillett politics. Remember, this is the city whose 'Militant Tendency' Labour council thought it could bring down the government between 1983 and 1986. This is the city that identifies itself so much with ragged-trousered philanthropist John Lennon that it named its un-Speke-able airport after the late, great Beatle. This is the city of Eric Heffer, of mobilised dockers' unions, gnawing unemployment and deprivation.

This is the city whose university boasts Rogan Taylor, football's self-appointed class warrior. Taylor, a sentimentalist who seemed to think Liverpool FC was still a working men's social rather than a business, commented on the Abramovich regime thus:
"This is different from the recent domination by Arsenal and Manchester United – or Liverpool before them – because their success was more about astuteness, youth investment and coaching skills than money.
"And you can't get away from the source of the money. A significant chunk of the wealth of a whole – now largely poverty-stricken – nation has been sunk into a foreign football team and that sticks in the throat."

Well, a significant chunk of a nation's wealth was used to underpin the election of a disgraceful president who invaded a nation illegally, reduce it to a state of civil war and deprived its people of the most basic human needs such as water and electricity.

When Liverpool become genuine title challengers through the huge investment of US dosh, and when Hicks and Gillett plough the money clawed from English football fans - Sky subscribers and match ticket-buyers - into a campaign to elect a President who may well attack Iran or Korea, will we hear Taylor's liberal pips squeak in despair?