Blame the EPL, not American owners

[MY VIEW] Wednesday's news that one American group will succeed another as the owner of Liverpool, one of the most revered clubs in English soccer, brought more moans and groans from the other side of the Atlantic, where American owners are vilified. But English critics are barking up the wrong tree if they think American owners are the problem.

Liverpool has been on a downward spiral since Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett bought the club in 2007. The Reds reached a new low last weekend when they lost at home to lowly Blackpool and fell in the relegation zone.

"Built by Shanks, Broke by Yanks" read one of the banners at Anfield, referring to legendary manager Bill Shankly and Hicks and Gillett.

Liverpool's problems weren't its owners, American or otherwise, but the English Premier League, which allowed Hicks and Gillett to buy the club with borrowed money. Just as it allowed the Glazer family to buy Manchester United with borrowed money.

Both deals proved disastrous when the world financial markets crumbled in late 2008, leaving the owners with no one willing to refinance their loans on favorable terms.

Until the EPL tightens it ownership rules like those that exist in American sports, it will have no one to blame but itself the next time a club is thrown into crisis like Liverpool has been.

1 comment about "Blame the EPL, not American owners".
  1. Brian Herbert, October 7, 2010 at 11:33 a.m.

    Absolutely right. Sports franchises are very different from a "real" business, and even real businesses get over-leveraged with debt. I think history shows sports franchises are best owned by one or more wealthy individuals putting in THEIR OWN money.

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