Liverpool FC directors and chairman answer fans questions

The official Liverpool channel held a Q&A session earlier tonight with the chairman Tom Werner (TW), director John W Henry (JWH) and commercial director Ian Ayre (IA).

Selected callers asked various questions of the owners, here are a few transcripts from the Q&A session:

JWH: (In Boston) We have been able to go toe to toe with (New York Yankees). We hope to be able to do the same here.

Are you here for the long term?

JWH: We are. I think that was a big question when we came in to Boston. We don’t see this as a short term opportunity. This is a very long term opportunity for us. This is an opportunity for us to return the club to where it was 10,20 years ago. And should we ask the Chairman about the manager?

TW: We feel like we just got here. Roy got here shortly before us. You can see what Roy said is that nobody, least of all Roy, was happy about our performance last weekend. We all know we have to perform better, especially on the road. I heard a statistic though that under Rafa we won only one game in 2010 under his tenure…

JWH: …You mean on the road. In the last half. We only won 1 out of our last 9.

TW: Right. We believe in what Roy is doing and we certainly feel like the performance has to improve. And he would be the first to say that.

The following question concerned the stadium – the caller suggesting that he would prefer redevelopment of Anfield.

TW: I think that we agree that it is a cathedral. One of the similarities we found when we came in was with Fenway Park, which is over 100 years old, and Anfield. It’s a special place to watch a match.  Our heart would be to try to do… We certainly feel the need to do something. As John said, our intention is to increase our revenue so that we can put the best possible squad together. We’re hard at it. We’ve had a lot of meetings. We are moving forward with various options. It’s too early to go in one direction or another whether to build a new stadium or refurbish Anfield.  But we know that we need to do something. And I can just say as a fan, the excitement that we feel at Anfield is so palpable – the intensity, the spirit, it’s one of the great sporting experiences that we’ve ever had.

JWH: There’s not just the history but there is an ambience here.  And I do think it would be a shame.  I think it will be an asset of the club for the long term to be at Anfield. But we need to do what is in the best long term interests of the club. But we do appreciate what we have at Anfield.

The caller then suggested that Roy Hodgson’s CV alone proves he should never have been given the job.

The host then reminded the caller that we had already talked about Roy Hodgson, and that the present owners did not give him the job.

On player investment in January:

JWH: I don’t have an answer.  What I can tell you is that we are actively looking at it and studying it.  We don’t quite know what the situation will be in January and I’ve been told that a lot of things don’t happen until the end of January. It’s our first transfer window. It’s something we’ve been studying day and night to try to understand. There is no doubt about it. Just in general. The play that has gone on this season, and I guess from the last half of last season, is unacceptable for Liverpool to accomplish what it wants to accomplish – for us to accomplish what we want to accomplish. We’re in sync with the fans in what it’s going to take and what we need for this club going forward.

TW: We’re perfectly prepared to take risks. But what we want to do is take risks that improve the club long term.  To do something, that sometimes in the past the club have made decisions which were focussed on a nice PR bounce, or something that would work short-term and we’re interested in long term and were interested in value.

JWH: The one place we may not be in sync with supporters is that when I was a fan of a club growing up and through my adult life till about 12/13 years ago. I didn’t worry so much about the long term aspects.  I think for supporters you’re really interested in what happened last Sunday, this Sunday this season.  When you’re running a sports franchise it’s important to take the long term aspect. And you have to have a long term plan/philosophy. It doesn’t take a lot of time for a club to go downhill, but it can sometimes take a long time to rebuild a club.

Over the past two years there have been some short term decisions that have really hurt. It’s time for us to stop that and to start making long term decisions that will put in is a position not just this year but in years forward to be succesful.

Do the club still exist to win trophies?

TW: That is the mantra. We have been watching many of the great matches in the past and one of the adjectives I would use for the way Liverpool played was relentless.  When they were ahead 3-0 they would score a 4th. We need to bring that back.  We’re also impatient as fans.  We are in no way saying this season is anything else except ours to recapture.  If I’m encouraged about one thing in the play in the Premier League it’s that teams are a bit topsy turvy and there is no runaway team.

IA: (Winning trophies). It’s what every fan buys their ticket for.  It’s the big day out at Wembley or Rome or wherever. It’s all about winning.  Hopefully it’s not too long.  Last trophy in 2006 – we’re overdue another one very soon.  It’s what players want as well. They don’t play to come 2nd or 3rd or 4th.  We have to be first be it the league or the cup. That’s what we all want.

A final caller was squeezed in who suggested he believed in Roy Hodgson, what he is trying to do and with the right backing we can move this club forward. People should remember that the team now is not Roy Hodgson’s team.  He needs time to settle in.  Everyone seems quite negative at the minute. But there is good things to come.

They then moved to an ad break.

JWH: (On Dalglish’s involvement). No doubt about it he needs a much more substantive role.  He is key to this franchise for the long term.

TW: We had a lovely dinner with Kenny and his wife and his son Paul. I was saying to Ian it was an honour to be with him.  I understood about half of what he said.  We know what he means to this club.  It can only be helpful.  His spirit, his tradition and his heart would be well served if we could mirror that.

How close are you to appointing a CEO?

JWH: That’s a good question. We’re certainly working on it. Diligently. I wouldn’t say it was close.  We have had a number of excellent candidates step forward.  (To Tom) Do you have anything you want to say on that?

TW: No.

On a groundshare?

JWH: If the fans don’t want it then it’s difficult for the club to do anything about it. It might make the most sense if you’re building a new stadium. But if the fans don’t want it – it’s a non-starter.

On the length of a business plan?

JWH: We’re looking at a 3-5 year rebuilding project. Where we are this point isn’t acceptable. When I say rebuilding I mean for the top of the table. That’s going to be difficult for this year and a real challenge for next year.  But in 3-5 years. It wouldn’t have made sense for us to get involved if we didn’t think we could win the Premier League.  That is our ultimate goal.  There hasn’t been a Premier League here since it was created. That is our largest goal. I don’t know if it should be a larger goal than winning Europe but those are our two main goals.  We have to be in a position within 3 years to be able to do that.

The next caller asked if they were aware of the poor sports journalism in print and TV in the UK.  He said Hodgson gets an easy ride because they have been championing him for years as an English manager that they wanted to see him at a top club. And because he is the LMA Manager of the Year even though he has only won 2 away games in the last 2 years.  Is there any chance of them funding a much more statistically driven football programme about our club and better match commentary, as they do in America?

Somehow they managed to instead answer the question referring to statistics in player recruitment and the bringing in of Damien Comolli.

TW: Any time we can find something that is objective, can be helpful to the people in football operations. That will be a useful tool.  We found it useful in baseball. We don’t think the analogy is entirely comparable.  We would like to use analysis to look at value as opposed to the naked eye at a match or two.

Just a quick thing about the journalists.  The interest in Liverpool is shown by the newspaper coverage.  Oscar Wilde once said the only thing worse than people saying something behind your back is not saying something.  That there is so much interest in this sport, of course there will be articles that are better than others.  It’s a good thing for the sport that so much is written about it.

JWH: There is so much coverage.  Every day I keep reading all the potential players we are going to sell or sign.  To the point I will call Damien or Roy and ask is there any truth in this.  It is incredible how much of that goes on.

Another caller highlighted the ‘terrible mistake’ made in the summer appointing Roy Hodgson.  He mentioned NESV’s understanding of stats and highlighted Hodgson’s 13 away league victories in his career in England and wondered why we were struggling away from home.  And also that it would be a travesty if Reina and Torres left because they were disillusioned.

TW: We understand where the caller is coming from.  We saw Roy today, and we saw the tape of Roy.  And we do expect immediate improvement.  Our intention is to add to the squad and improve the quality of the match.  I hear where the caller is coming from – we are sympathetic to it.  We have to attack this with our reasoned judgement. Not do anything precipitous that is based on any one result.

JWH: We have had great success in trying to keep the organisation on the same page. We’re on the same page.  I thought we were making significant progress.  Even at Tottenham I thought we should have won that game.  And if we had played like that for the rest of the season we would win.  There is no doubt about it – the play that has gone on this season has been unacceptable.  The results have been unacceptable.  It’s down to us to take responsibility for that.

How do we attract big name players to Liverpool?

JWH: My experience is that players want to come here.  I’ve heard from agents and various people throughout the league that Liverpool is a very attractive place for players to come to.  I don’t think we’ll have any problems attracting players here.

A further caller again mentioned Roy Hodgson.  Suggesting that he was out of his depth.  That he builds up the opposition before the games.  He reminded the owners that we won 5-1 at Newcastle the last time we played them.  The caller had originally called in on an unrelated question so his thoughts were not put to the owners.

Another caller asked if they were aware of the size of the task, relating to spending power of other clubs, and if it would be a problem?

JWH: I don’t think so.  I think when we went through the due diligence process that unfolded over about a months time.  As we went through it the more we looked, the more we began to see that tremendous sums had been spent by Chelsea and Man City.  We were also aware of the financial fair play rules coming in.  We were very aware.  Some fans may not be aware of the size of the payroll here.  We already have significant payroll.  One of the problems we uncovered is that we have a significant payroll and we will for the next year and the next year.  We have some players who some might argue are overpaid.   It was one of the main decisions about whether we would be able to purchase the club.  Because there was a chance for the next couple of years that the club could have been uncompetitive.

So we weren’t surprised.

In the final analysis we felt that it was incumbent upon us to raise revenues, to invest what it took.   You can’t just throw money at the problem. You have to be smart. If you’re smart and throw money at it you can be competitive.

Did you watch the Q&A?  What were your opinions on the answers and the debate?

40 comments on
Liverpool FC directors and chairman answer fans questions

  1. REINA
    JOHNSON CARRAGHER SKRTEL ?

    ? RAUL LUCUS ?

    TORRES ?

    WE NEED AT BEST 4 QUALITY PLAYERS AND MINE WOULD BE NO LESS THAN THIS;

    COENTRAO, MATA, A, YOUNG, SUAREZ, IF WE CAN NOT DO THAT WE ARE DONE FOR, THE ABOVE LIST ARE PLAYERS THAT ARE QULAITY BUT NONE OF WHICH AT THE MOMENT COME WITH THAT SUPER PLAYER TYPE STATUS, SO GET IN NOW ?

  2. fowler has asked for investment, reina has spelled it out that we need new players, as to has torres, still we hear crap from the so called great new owners and that mug comolli!! are we not sick of the recent times at lfc as fans!!! who hasnt had it with lets wait and things one step at a time and things like, be paitent with us!!! JUST GET ON WITH IT.
    its not hard to highlight better players, go after them and have several targets lined up is it, its not hard to see enough’s enough. nesv ?

  3. supporters of liverpool fc!! if we dont get the results in the coming weeks what have been described as easy games bolton ect , we are facing a relegation battle ,the second half of the season is going to be hell if hodgson keeps setting his stall out the way he does and nobody will want to play for us?

  4. Hodgsons been poor but it surprises me that our fans are being so critical. He only had a couple of months of the summer transfer window, every1 knows all decent players are lined up months in advance so it leaves Roy with the likes of CC to pursue as a second striker and players like Poulsen and Konchesky – who he knows, are loyal to him and he felt they could do a job. Liverpool have been setup negative for years, under Houliier and Benitez, relying on 1 or 2 players. Judge him after January.

  5. let alone win for him. All he is saying is stevie is back for the fullham game. Whoopie doo what if he gets injured again in that game we are then stuffed. When Stevie has been out injured before we had plenty of QUALITY cover, Alonso, Masherano for example who have we got now Joe Cole who couldnt score in a brothel, Lucas played well this term but not in the same league amd mirreles doing ok but not fit to fill stevies boots.
    The guy aint got a clue so come yanks show us you aint H&G rid now!!

  6. boys. I honestly do not see how the yanks are bowing to the fans presure of ground sharing yet will not bow to what we demand and that is roy out yesterday. I am sick of saying it there is only one man that is up to the job and is available for free and that is Kenny. get him in now and watch the results change straight away. He is our only hope of beating utd in the fa cup let alone anything else. It pains me to sit there week in week out watching this crap. They do not want to play for him

  7. Totally agree with you samuel, the guy should be on stage doing panto because he is certainly the clown at anfield.
    We need to get rid of woy, jovanovic, poulson, brad jones, konchesky, babel and cole. None of these players deserve to in the ground let alone play for our beloved lfc. When are the yanks gona do something about this before it is way to late to even qualify for next years europa league let alone the CL. We are so poor away from home in starting to think we are the prems whipping

  8. polusen is dreadful and must be sold, joe cole is not a winger roy! so you could have played in the middle where he has stated over and over is his better role. aurelio is far better than konchesky even when un fit. jovanovic needs to be sold or driven away from the club. brad jones was waste of money when we had another fine young intrenantional keeper in peter gulacsi! roy not playing torres and reina etc, when all week talks of smacks that he just doesnt know what day of the week it is. poor

  9. In response to Raul, the way the league is this year a few results on the road could well see us into the top 4. However, Roy Hodgson is completely incapable of picking up a satisfactory points haul away from home. a new manager could certainly give the team and the club the lift it needs. For god sake we were outsung by Utrecht last night. It wasn’t so long ago we were embarrasing the likes of Real at Anfield.

    • True. But I just think 4th is a bit too speculative. Assuming we can secure a top manager in the next few months with the team (including any mediocre ‘journeymen’) adapting to a new system or whatever – we still have to rely on one of the top 4 teams slipping up enough to negate their progress from the first half of the season (and to compensate for our crappiness!) The question is who? Man City? Chelsea (if they’re pros like they claim to be, then they’ll get back to winning)?

  10. So much hate flowing these days. So sad. It used to be that Liverpool supporters supported their team and each other. “You’ll never walk alone” means that we’ll be there together through the good and the bad. Well, we’re going through bit of bad at the moment, and suddenly that’s an excuse to slag off anyone and everyone with an opinion.
    The key point from the owners comments were “this is a 3-5 year plan”. Which means they are unlikely to sack everyone and buy a whole new team in January…

  11. The key words are ‘LONG-TERM’. If Roy is going to go (which he should) then it’ll be at the end of the season (2011 – then they should start spending). The owners aren’t going to throw money around as a knee-jerk reaction for a new manager or some random players in January. The best we can hope for is maybe finishing 5th or 6th which is still questionable due to inconsistency and poor away form. Will a new manager suddenly change that and take us to 4th or better in the few remaining months? NO!

    • PS. Although I don’t support Everton and would like to see Anfield refurbished, it’s a pity the owners are bowing to fan pressure to rule out stadium sharing. I don’t know the due diligence behind it but surely sharing would greatly increase revenues in terms of ticket sales, corporate sponsorship, merchandising etc. It’s inevitable that ticket prices will be jacked up. Sharing could maybe limit that and alleviate new-build costs. Build affordable housing, offices etc on+around Anfield (revenue)

  12. ngog maxi poulsen cole johnston kyirakos meriles aqua and hodgson are all rubbish end of.get hiddink r o neill ,a young g cahill ola tiovian diarra remi eto

  13. its not about them spending over 300 million, thats not what i want, just look at city, tevez saga, how disgusting is that, and half the players are only there for the money. The new owners last nite just really repeated what they have said that they do not act things out in the media which is a massive plus, but if you really step back and look at why they where on tv, it think it was a very clever way to say to us, hey we arehear to take in and gage the mind set and feelings of the fans

  14. insisting Ngog, Kyriakos, Maxi, Lucas and Babel all be bombed. These may not be top class players but they have been among our most consistent performers this year. How poor would we be without them? Roy and Purlsow need to be removed before further damage is done

  15. is given cash to spend in January. His transfer record both in English football and during his short time with us is hardly impressive. It doesn’t seem to fit with the NESV philosophy of signing emerging young talent. Poulsen or Joe cole are neither of these. Personally, I feel the biggest danger at the club is Christian Purslow. He ahs been responsible for making some alarming ‘football’decisions lately, none of which have inspired confidence. The sacking of Rafa, ignoring Kenny, hiring Roy and

  16. I feel that the owners have already reached a critical juncture in their time at the club. I fear that if they do not act quickly by replacing Roy then the top players will sign pre-contract agreements with other clubs in January. It is obvious we are never going to amount to anything under Roy Hodgson. We were never even this bad under Rafa. Henry needs to be wise. By keeping Roy he risks losing top players and further ground on the top 4. He also runs the risk of throwing money away if Hodgson

    • i agree with most of your comments,but players cant sign pre-conract agreements with other clubs in January when their under contract to lfc,they can only do that if their contracts are run out in that year,if they have more than 6months on there contracts they cant

      • Absolutely true. What I’m saying is that players can agree to join another club in january though can’t they. no matter how much a club wants to keep a player, if he’s determined to leave then he’ll leave. whatever happens it puts us in a no-win situation. if Nando wants how come January then we’ve got no chance of stopping him. He’s on record as saying the only reason he joined us is becuase of Rafa. the same applied to Reina. Now Rafa’s gone and we’re terible, what reason is there to stay

  17. Imran- the owners would never give a figure they have in mind to spend. As soon as they did it would reveal our spending potential and risk us being held to ransom. Mediocre players then become ridiculously expensive and demand high salaries.We should have no issue with keeping budget under wraps bit when the right player is available the deal is done quietly for the right reasons and the right price. Look at City, I would rather buy an Adam Johnson for a good price than get bent over for Milner

  18. Realistically the programme gave as much as could be expected and perhaps more.

    Under no circumstances were they going to answer the Roy out questions with “Ok. let’s sack him” and “by the way who should we replace him with…?”

    The fact that they listened and heard an overwhelming and reasoned argument as to why Roy was the wrong person is part of their steep learning curve.

    At the moment as much as I want Roy out I’m happy to give the owners time to work things out and get it right.

  19. liverpool at their best this season were good as any side in the world except BARCA but we havent got the consistancy for some reason we are without caragher and gerrard we need to strenghthen in january and i am sure next half of the season will be much better any manager coming at the time and circumstances in the world would not get this side in the top 5 by christmas so chear up guys have the faith

  20. time is passing and manchester united is winning title over title and john is saying he has a long term planning so at this rate we will be the second best of england football!!!, logically if manchester play like he is playing nowadays at the end of the season he will be crown champion!!!, we will loose our record of champion of england!, so it will be good if firstly we buy players for the short term just to bring back our reputation in england and europe and after we tackle the long term plan

  21. I think this is the key line in the whole thing, if they are in sync with the fans then Roys days are certainly numbered.

    “We’re in sync with the fans in what it’s going to take and what we need for this club going forward.”

    • Agreed. You have to read between the lines. Another significant quote from JWH :

      ” There is no doubt about it – the play that has gone on this season has been unacceptable. The results have been unacceptable. It’s down to us to take responsibility for that.”

      They have also pointed out here and in other interviews that RH was here before they were. The way that owners take responsibility is to appoint their own manager. Its a case of getting the right man for the long-term.

  22. I wanted proper answers from the owners instead of philosphical ones!.Most Liverpool fans want Hodgson out that is inevitable so why wait because he’s not going to win us anything!

    Secondl, it wasn’t asking much for the owners to give us a figure of how much would be available in the next transfer window!.It would be nice if John Henry would wake up instead of looking so drowsy and sleepy all the time!

  23. i agree with all the comments about hodgeson being out of his depth,bad tactics,bad players being bought,terrible body language,also that he will never resign,these americans seem to be differing over making any decisions & avoiding questions about woy,we got rid of hicks & gillette by protests inside & outside anfield,if the fans want hodgeson out they have to start having protests to make the americans aware of the fact fans dont want him to stay here rubbing his face like a lunatic.

  24. Roy will never resign. He’ll want his payoff for being sacked. The fact remains that he’s more suited to doing Werthers Originals adverts than he is managing England’s most successful team.

  25. Awe come on let’s be nice to woy boy he’s a very nice man has 30 years experience in the game! The best way to deal with our woy boy is to tell him he can have a job at Liverpool for life cleaning the toilets !

  26. A lot of wishy washy replies to questions that were posed to the owners.

    Key question is- is Roy Hodgson the man to take Liverpool to the level they should be at- i.e. challenging for the league title year in year out and competing in the latter stages of the Champions League? The answer is a whopping big NO. If you have a long term strategy, get rid now and find a manager with pedigree and whom players will respect.

    If the owners do not move quick, we will me a mid table side!

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