‘Debt, Lies, Cowboys’: Custodians, Protests and ‘Epic Swindles’ at Liverpool F.C.
The fight which many Liverpool supporters undertook to displace Tom Hicks and George Gillett’s ‘Kop Holdings’ from the ownership of the club they support was drawn out over three years but provides an example of how fan movements can achieve — at least some — of their aims. The action involved multiple forms of mobilisation, spread across several movements. On 15 October 2010, the club’s ownership rights were sold to fellow American John W. Henry’s ‘New England Sports Ventures’ (NESV) for around £300m, but with two-thirds of that fee going to pay off Hicks and Gillett’s acquisition debt, which had risen from £175m in February 2007 (Conn 2010c). Thus, the capital return that Hicks and Gillett received at the point of sale was much lower than the £500m that they hoped to achieve (as a minimum) when they declared the club to be for sale just six months earlier (Hunter 2010). By detailing the Liverpool fan mobilisations during Hicks and Gillett’s tenure at the club, this chapter begins to unravel this story by unpacking the dynamics of local and transnational supporter protests by looking at the formation and protests of both first-wave movements such as ShareLiverpoolFC, AFC Liverpool and, centrally, Spirit of Shankly (SOS) and later, second-wave groups such as Kop Faithful, Save Liverpool FC (SaveLFC) and the reconfigured SOS.
KeywordsFootball Club Credit Crunch Counter Response National Hockey League Test March
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