Earlier in the month the controversial minutes from the recent Christian Purslow and Spirit of Shankly meeting hit the news. This was the take from the invincible bastion blog run by tweeter @mcdonaldtaf
Lost for words. That would be the right term at the moment. Somewhere along the line I have been wrong and I have erred in my judgement. Yet the truth of the matter is I have no idea, still, where I’m wrong.
The two sets of minutes from the recent Christian Purslow and Spirit of Shankly meeting tell two equally compelling but different stories. On reading the Spirit of Shankly version of events it can be concluded that Christian has, along with RBS, lost patience with George Gillett and Tom Hicks. Statements such as “RBS are annoyed and unhappy with Hicks and Gillett and they want a change of ownership”, together with, “The promises of Hicks and Gillett are unforgivable. Hicks and Gillett cannot hang onto the club” appear emotively driven with a great degree of empathy for the Spirit of Shankly cause.
However Christian’s own version of the discussion tell a very different story. He states “The current lead bank RBS is highly supportive of the club” without making any reference to the club’s owners. Then within his final statements there are none of the emotive comments, no admission that Hicks and Gillett are out of money and a point raised about the potential harm done by protests and disturbances, a point not included within the Spirit of Shankly’s version of the meeting. This final point comes with a plea for peace when he says “it is tough to persuade new investors of the attraction of the club if they think they will get hassled every time they visit. So I again urge you all to think about this aspect and try and do the right thing.
These differing views offer up two very concerning possibilities, depending on which version of events you are inclined to believe. I am proposing these different viewpoints without any inclination for either, both are as unpalatable as each other in my mind.
1. If you accept the Spirit of Shankly version – Christian Purslow is a bumbling idiot or a man driven by his emotive connection to the football club. He is either a genius and trying to squeeze the owners out of the door by causing this confusion, or, he really has lost track of his marbles. Within one meeting he has significantly weakened the negotiating stance of the club in any commercial or investment dealings. This version of events would indicate we need the money that desperately we’ll quite happily increase the equity available (well that’s what’s been splashed across most of the papers today).
If this version of events is true I have been wrong about Christian Purslow and his abilities. He should stand down from his position as Managing Director with immediate effect, despite saying what a number of fans wanted to hear. He is employed by the company and is either working against the wishes of the company’s shareholders, or, he is not competent to be in his position. Either of these scenarios make his position untenable. As a director he has a fiduciary duty to promote the success of the company, exercise reasonable care, skill and dilligence and avoid conflicts of interest. Based on this record of that meeting he has, in all likelihood, failed on at least two of the three.
2. If you accept the Christian Purslow version – If this is the case then the possibility of an underhanded plan being acted upon to ‘rock the boat’ is presented. Maybe that’s a bit over the top and certain things were just misheard or misinterpreted. Surely if that is the case though agreement could have been made on what was actually said? There is no denying that if the meeting happened in the way portrayed by Spirit of Shankly they must have thought all of their Christmases had come at once. The Managing Director of the club making, what he knew would become, a public statement about his own and the bank’s dislike of the owners. However if it happened as Christian suggests (without these comments) then why do they appear in the minute?
I have spoken many times of my admiration for some of the work Spirit of Shankly undertake. I’ve never been enthralled by their raison d’etre or some of their actions but I have been minded to join their ranks if the current talk of investment and therefore progress is not forthcoming. If their version of events is inaccurate though (and I am not saying it is – I simply don’t know) they have done our club a great dis-service.
There is an unlikely third option. It is difficult, indeed an art form, to be able to write minutes without putting forward your own ’sway’ on the facts presented. The wrong style of delivery or the wrong word here or there and you can paint a very different picture to what was actually in front of you. Perhaps we have one party swaying one way with another going the other, due to the incumbent polarised views, resulting in two very different results. The truth actually lying somewhere in the middle. The strength of the different testimonies in this case would indicate this is not the case, but it remains a possibility.
Either way the damage is done. I’ve seen strong sentiment from some quarters about how the demonstrations are not affecting the club’s business. As someone who has worked in management, and run businesses for many years now, there is a naivety in this sentiment. At the very least, the very least, it impacts on the club’s ability to negotiate effectively. Every sponsor or potential investor can point to the palpable unrest and use it as a bargaining tool. Reduced deals, reduced revenues and a reduced value of the business. It’s happening so slowly it’s hard to see but we are, bit by bit, pulling our club apart. If it happens and we implode, here’s a vision of the future – the fans will blame the owners, the owners will blame the fans and Christian, Christian will blame Rafa, the fans and the owners – not that any of that will get us anywhere.
I’m not apportioning blame anywhere and I’m not even saying which one of the two options above I’m inclined to believe; to be honest I simply don’t know. I don’t see either party stepping forward or both coming together to agree what was an actual fair reflection of the meeting. I guess we’ll never know. More doubts, more concerns, less negotiating power, less value in the business, more fan unrest, more pressure… all of us The Owners, The Management, The Fans… we’re pulling our club apart
Invincible Bastion (http://invinciblebastion.wordpress.com) is the blog of regular LFC tweeter @mcdonaldtaf. After attempting to write a general blog about all sorts of matters it became clear quite quickly that Liverpool Football Club was going to dominate the posts. Therefore a Liverpool FC only blog was created, which is planned to be part of a network of blogs dealing with all sorts of matters. The blog tends to concentrate on off the field and, in particular, business matters which surround the club.
@mcdonaldtaf is a company director and senior manager with years of experience and post graduate qualifications. More can be found out about him at the blog.