Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No Money in the Coffers

As the transfer season winds down, fans were treated to a rude awakening this morning. Rafa has but £1.5-£2m left in his budget. Tony Barrett writes a piece today on our worrying central defensive woes and paints a sobering picture for the year ahead.

To put it in blunt terms, we're skint. It's no secret that our owners have talked a big game and failed to deliver time and time again. It was widely reported this past spring that Rafa would receive £20m a season plus any player sales for his transfer budget. Under normal circumstances, this is a fair bit of money for any manager not residing at Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford or the Eastlands. As Barrett writes, this is obviously is not the case:
The Liverpool owners argue that the club must be run as a business and made it clear that pay increases handed out to Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt, Yossi Benayoun and Agger would be subtracted from the money made available to Benítez.

That's right folks, our owners have taken the salaries signed by first team players into account. Its a maddening prospect when you analyze it. It also makes you wonder where the money has gone. By my count Rafa has brought in close to £50m in player sales this summer. Even the reported fees for Glen Johnson & Alberto Aquiliani add up to just £38m. Even that figure is surely lower as Portsmouth owed us money from the sale of Peter Crouch last summer (around £7m).

By that figure it leaves some £20m unaccounted for. I find it rather unlikely that the money was taken out of his budget for contract signings. Torres, Gerrard alone account for over half that remaining figure. Adding in three other players would see what's left surely gone.

It was this article, published last month that leads me to believe something far different is going on at Anfield. In order to refinance their £290m loan, our owners are being forced to pay £60m, with half coming up front. That £30m had to come from somewhere, and with the history of these owners, I have a feeling I know exactly where that £30m went.

There may be a twinge of over reaction here, but when an article like the one written in the Wall Street Journal, it paints a sobering picture of our owners.

Creditors to Texas financier Tom Hicks's Hicks Sports Group have declared the company in default, a measure that could eventually dislodge the Texas Rangers baseball club and Dallas Stars hockey franchise from his control.

The default notice is the strongest sign yet of the economic perils awaiting the country's professional sports leagues, where owners have spent lavishly on player salaries. Many owners' personal fortunes are also on the wane, creating uncomfortable standoffs between the owners and lenders. (link)

In short, Rafa has been duped once again by our owners. A season that was once filled with optimism is quickly becoming the same old story.

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