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New Big Four-ce Pushing Liverpool Into European Exile

2005 champs league

By James McLoughlin.

As the title race edges towards its thrilling climax, another battle is heating up for qualification to Europe’s top prize. With four games left to play, Tottenham Hotspur are in the driving seat to take the final Champions League qualifying spot but have Manchester City breathing down their necks. As Liverpool contemplate the prospect of no Champions League football, it seems the ‘Big Four’ is set for gatecrashers in coming seasons. But will this be a brief cameo on the continent for Tottenham or City? Or does this spell the start of a new order?

No-one in the red half of Liverpool will deny that after pushing Manchester United so closely for the Premier League crown last year that this season has been less of a blip and more of a catastrophe. But with the bottomless pockets of Sheikh Mansour’s Manchester City and the not so pauperly Tottenham Hotspur bankrolled by billionaire Joe Lewis, these new competitors could signal the start of a European exile for the heavily indebted old-timers of Europe.

With an estimated ₤35 million being missed out through their failure to qualify, it is increasingly unlikely that Liverpool will be able to buy the “Four or five top-class players” star striker Fernando Torres has stated they need to compete at the highest level again. As co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett stare at a mountain of debt, it appears key assets such as Torres may instead have to be offloaded to balance the books.

But given the likelihood of no Champions League football, this may not be an entirely unwelcome prospect for arguably one of the world’s best finishers who will have no shortage of suitors.

The trouble is, that should Manchester City or Tottenham steal the coveted fourth place, they will have the final piece of the jigsaw they’ve craved, the ability to lure the world’s elite.  Having offered in excess of ₤100 million and ₤500,000-a-week for his services, Kaka rejected a switch to City in favour of a switch to Real Madrid for a deal worth less to his club, AC Milan, and himself.

Even though Kaka would line his pockets, at least one year outside of top flight European competition proved unthinkable and he is not alone. Similarly, should Liverpool be forced into the wilderness by the newcomers, they will undoubtedly struggle to lure top-rate players as Tottenham or City court the cream of the crop.

With top players being attracted to the bright lights of Champions League fixtures at The City of Manchester Stadium or White Hart Lane instead of the dark clouds hanging over Anfield, it remains more improbable that Liverpool’s history and golden days will be enough to recruit and hold on to premier talent.

The sole flare against the bleak landscape laid out before the Merseyside is Michel Platini’s proposals to introduce a spending cap, meaning that clubs can only spend  70% of their total income meaning Mansour’s ₤120 million spree in the summer transfer window of 2009 will be consigned to the history books and values of ₤80 – ₤100 million on one player will be reduced to more reasonable figures as clubs live within their means.

With Liverpool’s debts at an estimated ₤235 million the impact of their inability to compete financially with Tottenham and City will be lessened. However, with more revenue being generated and the increased standard of players on display at the club lucky enough to seize fourth place, it may be too little too late for Liverpool by the time these restrictions are put in place.

Turbulent times lie ahead for the Anfield outfit and should their ongoing ownership debacle continue to run up the bill and reduce the transfer kitty, they could struggle to hold on to talent such as Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard with bankers snapping at their heels.

As Tottenham and City build on their long established and nouveau riche foundations respectively, Liverpool could find it a bridge too far to cross a possible canyon between themselves and the new boys on the European scene in seasons to come.

What will missing out on Champions League football mean for Liverpool? Please leave your comments below…



  1. DD

    April 22, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Joe Lewis is not bankrolling spurs, he may well be the man behind ENIC Spurs are about the only club who generate their own transfer revenue, there is no debt black hole or dodgy benefactor.

  2. AntiOnan

    April 22, 2010 at 9:42 am

    What will hit the “fan” is when Rednose retires, Morinho has enough sense to go elsewhere and OT’s bankers start to squeeze. Much as I hate to say it, only the South London Gyspies play the honest game financially, with MU and ‘Pool massively in debt and Chelski sugardaddied.

    The hole in Platini’s concept is stadium size as the more seats, the more money & this will give MU and the gypsies an advantage over Chelsea & L’Pool & certainly over Tottenham unless thir new stadium becomes fact.

  3. cobra

    April 22, 2010 at 9:56 am

    totally correct dd our club is run by the clubs generated income, not a wealthy owners bankrole, and when uefa rules come in to stop owners using their own money to buy success, tottenham will be sitting pretty.

  4. Jason

    April 22, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Your failing to take in to account the global pull of Liverpool as a brand.
    They still have a massive worldwide fan base (something neither City or Tottenham have) and are starting to put together the commercial deals befitting the club.
    Don’t write off Liverpool yet as we have seen this season what predictions can do!

  5. cobra

    April 22, 2010 at 11:13 am

    your global pool will wane, you are in debt and struggling, most foreign supporters will go to their taste at that time, no club can rely on that, plus the asian leagues will be quite strong soon, and they will pull more fans from the english game, liverpool will still be a good club, but they wont be where they were with the elite.

  6. cobra

    April 22, 2010 at 11:37 am

    our football clubs should be run by our clubs income, not the wealthy owners bankrole, and uefa are finally getting through to the english league, that transfer and wage caps will be brought in, and foreign players limited, otherwise clubs that wont abide by these rules, will not be allowed to participate in uefa comps.

  7. Billy

    April 22, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    So Liverpool’s pull will wane?

    Did it wane during the 90’s when we were so poor under Souness? – No

    What happened last time a club other than LFC CFC MUFC or AFC were in the CL? – Everton in and out of europe in less than 6 hours and that was both european comps (no dis-ing Everton intended, just the fact of european games differ to UK games).

    Torres will go to Man City for £60M, not if they don’t get CL football he won’t for certain, and i beleive he won’t go anyway. If next season is as poor as this then maybe, but that’s not going to happen.

  8. cobra

    April 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    the thing is it might, yours and my football clubs are in the worst run league, by a bunch of money grabbers, the fit and proper test is a joke, like i said liverpool are a good club, but we cant keep saying that globally they are great, with lots of fans, yes you do have lots of fans globally, but these fans might one day decide on one of their own countrys teams, to put all their time into, its emotional and matters to us, but it doesnt mean as much to them, their football is getting stronger all the time.

  9. James McLaughlin

    April 25, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    I agree, Spurs are one of the few clubs which doesn’t live off wealthy benefactors. By bankrolling, the point I’m making is that Spurs are ina much better position should they qualify for Europe as they only spend their money they’ve earned but don’t have the debts which need to be serviced that Liverpool do or that Spurs have a wealthy backer should they require it unlike Liverpool.

    There are clubs with bigger pull than Liverpool. They do have a global following but United prove that success domestically and in Europe can make the club draw in more as a brand and City’s owners have certainly set about furthering this, as Spurs will should they nick 4th spot. When they garner a global following that will be another ace Liverpool no longer hold and it won’t be long should they break into Champions League. Both City and Spurs have the resources to stay there unlike Everton’s cameo.

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