This Means More.
Liverpool Football Club has always been more than just a football club. It’s a community, it’s a club that engages with the fans and is supposed to care about the people in and around it.
This. Means. More.
When I first heard that Newcastle and Tottenham, two of the Premier League’s richer clubs, were furloughing their non-playing staff, asking the government to cover 80% of the money for their workers, so that Spurs and Newcastle didn’t have to pay them, I was annoyed, but not surprised.
Daniel Levy and Mike Ashley are hardly known for their generous nature and PR savviness.
But then Liverpool did it. And to be honest I felt betrayed.
I’ve spent the last few weeks angry and disgusted that billionaires and big companies would take advantage of a scheme set in place primarily to prevent small to medium size businesses going under and to protect low-income workers from the axe by greedy corporations.
I guess we know which category Liverpool fall into now huh?
Angry and disgusted, but not surprised. It was inevitable that companies who are not in any danger of collapsing would take advantage of the generosity of the government to make taxpayers front the bill to line their billionaire owner’s pockets.
And make no mistake, that’s exactly what’s going on here. Money is being taken out of my pocket, and your pocket if you live in the UK, that should be coming out of FSG’s bottom line. And it stinks.
Some mitigating points here.
Yes, it’s good that Liverpool are topping up the 80% to make sure workers are getting paid a full salary. It’s the absolute bare minimum they can do, but it’s good. And yes, it’s also good that senior management are expected to take a sizeable pay cut, as well as the players, although the player issue is more complicated due to the PFA, and I don’t want to dig too much into that, other than to say that I think the timing of this furloughing decision has hung the players out to dry, which I also find morally questionable at best.
My colleague and friend Adam will have an article out now saying that the main thing is that workers get paid – and of course that’s true. But that was never in doubt. The government put a scheme in place to protect all workers, but that doesn’t mean LFC have a single moral reason to use it.
I don’t think it’s deserving of praise to pay your lower income workers 20% of their wages whilst Virgil Van Dijk is on 200k a week. I love our players, and this whole mess is NOT their fault, given it sounds like they were all willing to take a pay cut to ensure the furloughed workers didn’t have to be furloughed, but giving the club praise for topping up the 80% isn’t just like praising a billionaire for donating half a million quid to charity, it basically is praising a billionaire for donating half a million quid to charity. It’s nice and all, but it’s a drop in the fucking ocean.
Then there’s the argument that other big clubs, and other big companies (see Virgin) are doing it. Well two points: one, some big companies are actually financially fucked up the wall. If Liverpool literally won’t exist as a football club unless it furloughs half its non-playing staff then I would agree they should do it. But colour me sceptical that that’s the reality.
And then two: THIS. MEANS. MORE.
It’s literally one of the new mottos of the fucking club, introduced by FSG.
You don’t get to argue that you’re not just another football club, not just another big company and then argue that everyone is doing it. Sorry, that doesn’t wash.
The other argument put forward is more along the lines of: we’re Scouse not English. Fuck the government, it’s good to take some money off them after the history the Tories have of attacking this club.
I’m sorry but that argument falls flat on its face.
Government money is two things. It’s finite, and it’s taxpayer.
If Liverpool fans are happy paying the clubs staff out of their own pockets, then I don’t begrudge them that, but as fans we all put a lot of money into the club one way or the other anyway. Am I happy paying Spurs’ wages? Or Newcastle’s? Would I be happy asking United fans or City fans or people who have no interest in football to pay wages rather than John Henry or you know, the people who own the club? Sounds wrong doesn’t it?
To go back to the finite point. The government has put a lot of money on the table. A lot. To prop up our economy, to support workers and to keep the NHS going. But that money won’t last forever, it can only go so far, and every penny of it spent will come back to haunt us in the long run when the Tories decide the national debt is at unacceptable levels. So for Liverpool to take that money is not a fuck you to the government, but people who need it.
This means more.
It would be nice if when push came to shove, this really did mean more.
But then again, it’s not surprising when other multi-billion pound clubs do it, so why should it be any different with Liverpool?
I guess the joke is on us after all.
You’ll Never Walk Alone eh?
Stay safe out there everyone. Some of us still think of this fanbase as a community anyway.
P.S. Since writing this article, FSG have reversed their decision, which is good and once again shows that Liverpool fans are amazing at creating a public backlash to get the club in line. But it doesn’t really change anything else, including this article. FSG made a bad call and hastily undoing it because of bad PR isn’t worth massively praising.