Few things hath more fury than English soccer fans who have been scorned, as one team owner has learned the hard way. His club’s backers are looking to depose him by attacking his last remaining source of support: bankers.The Wall Street Journal has the amusing tale of Liverpool FC, which is currently co-owned and managed by American Tom Hicks and his son, Tom Jr., two men who have not exactly endeared themselves to fans during their brief tenure. Hicks Sr. took over in 2007 and last season the team finished seventh in the Premier League, its worst showing in a decade. In addition to the painful losses and wounded pride, he’s saddled the team with debt that may cost them their best players. An October 15 deadline looms for the team to be sold or face repossession by Royal Bank of Scotland.
Or in a worst-case scenario–for some fans at least–Hicks could find a partner to help re-finance the $313 million loan and keep the team in his hands. Not on their watch, say the die-hards. After Hicks was spotted outside the offices of J.P. Morgan and Deutche Bank in New York last week, Liverpool backers went into attack mode. Fearing an alliance between the banks and the team, pictures were Tweeted, letters were posted, and within hours, senior executives at both banks were deluged with emails and phone calls begging them to not save Hicks’ bacon.
“If you join Tom Hicks in raping and pillaging Liverpool Football Club, then you will be making a very powerful enemy,” his letter read in part. “You are facing an energized, well-informed mass of Liverpool fans from around the world.”
Similar pressure allegedly caused Blackstone to abandon their efforts to shore up Hicks’ position, though Blackstone officially denies that was the reason. Sports bankruptcy fans also know Hicks as the owner who was forced to unload the Texas Rangers this spring, another franchise that he nearly crippled with bad money management. (The team’s top unsecured creditor is currently Alex Rodriguez, who the Rangers have been paying to be a Yankee since 2004.) Liverpudlians should take heart, however–removed of the “Hicks Curse,” the Rangers won the AL West this year.
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