Liverpool FC: Ian Ayre's Plans Spit In The Face Of Shankly

Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre proposes to take from the poor and give to the rich when it comes to the Premier League's foreign TV rights. A step too far for this Liverpool fan who is proud of the club and city's socialist roots.
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I have been brought up to believe that Liverpool FC is a little bit different. Call it arrogance if you like, call it an obsession with history, or a clinging to the past, I'm not bothered, Bill Shankly built a Liverpool Football Club which is just a cut above the rest.

So when the club's managing director, Ian Ayre announced yesterday that he would like Liverpool's TV rights to be treated better than ‘lesser’ teams, you'd imagine I'd be thrilled.

Ayre's proposal suggests that Liverpool, along with Manchester United and Chelsea would gain a greater share of revenue than other Premiership clubs from overseas television rights.

At the present time, each club receives the same amount of money, so whether it be Bolton, Blackpool or Liverpool, the clubs' coffers are filled with an identical amount of money, last year it was £17.9m.

As much as I believe Liverpool are special, the pursuit of an elitist, money-driven corporate image for the club, is squarely at odds with a proud tradition of socialism brought to Anfield by Bill Shankly, and indeed a left wing attitude, that is synonymous with Liverpool as a city.

Liverpool City Council's stand against the Tory government in the 1980s still rings out in the city's consciousness, and the Liverpool branch of the Socialist Party boasts a membership to rival that of anywhere in the country. This attitude of 'the city that dared to fight' has always filtered through to the football clubs, Liverpool being the first football club to set up a supporters' union in Spirit Of Shankly, a group who dared to challenge the capitalist agenda of Hicks and Gillett and were eventually instrumental in their downfall.

As much as I believe Liverpool are special, the pursuit of an elitist, money-driven corporate image for the club, is squarely at odds with a proud tradition of socialism brought to Anfield by Bill Shankly...

So how, just over 12 months later have we found ourselves greedily grasping at more money, and a commercial elitism? Is it really a case of  'New Yanks In, Old Yanks Out', as our friends from across the park are so keen to suggest?

Some of you are squirming uncomfortably now, aren't you?

How can I lambast the pursuit of money, when John W Henry has lavished us with a summer of 'big money' signings? How can I still claim that Liverpool is a socialist bastion, when matchdays at Anfield are filled with overpriced hot dogs, replica kits and other trappings of modern football?

Well, I can, because as far as we're concerned, this club still belongs to us.

When Jim White got red in the face at Spirit of Shankly spokesman Jay McKenna on Sky Sports News that Tom Hicks and George Gillett's ownership had absolutely no bearing on Liverpool's footballing performances, a city of reds smirked and remembered Shankly's famous words:

'At a football club, there's a holy trinity - the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don't come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques.'

So, that's what we wanted. That has not changed. It's still what we crave now. If John W Henry is happy to sign the cheques, we'll take care of the rest. Between us the fans, Kenny Dalglish and the players on the pitch are capable of making Liverpool Football Club far more special than any lucrative TV deal is.

If none of that has you convinced, I'll leave you with this, Mr. Ayre:

“The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It’s the way I see football, the way I see life” William "Bill" Shankly, OBE (2 September 1913 – 29 September 1981)

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