Werner sets out challenges for Liverpool
Liverpool chairman Tom Werner has been conducting a series of radio and press interviews setting out the challenges facing the club. On one level, it could be seen as an exercise in reducing the expectations of fans.
It is perhaps significant that a roundup of the Premiership title race on Radio 5 this morning featured fans from Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United (or at least there would have been one from United if he had turned up). Some Liverpool fans think that if the club is below the radar, they may have a chance of springing a surprise. In any event there are all sorts of football bets open to fans.
Not unreasonably, Werner pointed out how much of a poisoned chalice the Fenway Sports Group had inherited from the previous owners. He also discussed how difficult the decision to buy the club had been.
He made it clear that Champions League qualification was a key objective for the club. Liverpool were last involved in 2009 and the revenue is critical to the club. Chelsea earned £47.3m from winning last season's competition.
Werner's colleague John W. Henry emphasised that the ultimate goal is overhauling deadly rivals Manchester United, yet Henry reckons that is an even bigger task than the one they faced when buying Boston Red Sox baseball team 11 years ago. He admitted that Liverpool was not holding up its side of the rivalry with United at present.
Werner made it clear that their model, as developed at the Boston Red Sox, depended on generating revenue and pumping it into the squad. There will be no question of splashing the cash and to a large extent manager Brendan Rogers will be dependent on the money he raises from sales.
Werner would not be drawn on the long-running saga of whether the club should stay at Anfield or move to a new stadium at Stanley Park. He acknowledged that Liverpool lagged behind its rivals on match day income and that it was important to come up with a stadium solution.
The dilemma has always been that Anfield does not easily lend itself to remodelling and expansion, but a new stadium would be a major capital investment that would be hard to earn back. Werner talked of dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's, but the arguments for the alternatives are well rehearsed by now and at some point a decision has to be made.