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The Fiver | Why FSG’s final act as Liverpool owners could define their legacy

Why FSG’s final act as Liverpool owners could define their legacy

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THE LEAVING OF LIVERPOOL

The purported sale of Liverpool Football Club by Fenway Sports Group has sent whatever lies on the cliche continuum between a shockwave and a ripple through the world of football. Who will take control of one of the crown jewels of the English game? And when? And for how much? To which the answers are, erm, oh look, it’s Worthington Cup week. Nobody knows anything yet, except that whatever finally happens, Liverpool fans will join those of Chelsea, Manchester City and Newcastle United in being expected to address complex contradictory emotional and geopolitical positions to a problem not of their own making, to the satisfaction of all the people wagging big fat self-righteous fingers in their faces.

The luck of the draw meant that Jürgen Klopp got to give Tuesday’s pre-Carabao press conference the body swerve, sending in poor Pep Lijnders to deal with any awkward questions instead. Despite gamely trying on several occasions to bring the conversation round to the match against Derby tomorrow night, Lijnders was repeatedly hauled back to the hot topic of the day. “It is nothing new for the club to find new owners,” he began. “They are trying to take the club forward. I always know the owners act in the best interests of the club and always did. They always tried at least.” At which point Bart Simpson came barrelling into the room with a celebratory cake.

That ringing endorsement from Lijnders was followed by a checklist of trophies, new stands and big-name contracts. It was all relevant to any serious analysis of FSG’s achievements, though he could have saved an awful lot of time by simply asking “Remember the spine of Brad Jones, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Christian Poulsen and Milan Jovanovic?” and leaving it at that. “They made a lot of good decisions,” concluded Lijnders. “They tied down one of the best managers in the world.”

But as that manager said upon his arrival, it’s not important what people think when you come in, but what they think when you leave, and FSG’s final act will have a huge bearing on their legacy. Will they sell to Bahrain? Dubai? Bezos? Musk? When a faceless USA! USA!! USA!!! hedge fund is your least problematic potential option, you’re facing a moral conundrum all right.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE

Join Scott Murray for live updates from Leicester 3-1 Newport, Bournemouth 2-2 Everton (4-3 pens) and more in our Coca-Cola Cup clockwatch.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The men’s game needs to catch up and get in the 21st century. As women we don’t sit there and put out big fancy statements. We’re normal human beings. If you’re happy, it doesn’t matter who you fall in love with” – Beth Mead talks to Donald McRae about sexuality, her mental health and missing out on the Ballon d’Or by one vote.

Beth Mead.

David Squires tells the troubling story of Malcolm Bidali, a Kenyan security guard who was detained in Qatar after writing about migrants’ working conditions.

Image from David Squires’ cartoon

On today’s Football Weekly: the pod squad break down a blockbuster Big Cup draw, and ponder whether there are any decent billionaires out there if FSG decide to sell Liverpool. Listen here.

And more football chat to fill your ears, with Women’s Football Weekly looking back at a nine-goal thriller and much more over the weekend here.

FIVER LETTERS

“Re: David Squires today. Looks like Fifa has seen your Stop Football campaign and acted accordingly. I’m stopping football, all football. It’s not a game, it’s sickness” – Tracy Stomenov.

“I don’t know if I am having the same difficulty as The Fiver these days in keeping any semblance of a grip on material reality, but Sepp Blatter blathering that awarding the World Cup to Qatar was a mistake finally broke my sturdy hypocrisy meter, set up with instructions from the late James Lovelock” – John Weldon.

“Nathan Jones may have been gone too long for Southampton in their search for a manager, but Robert De Niro’s waiting. However, he’s talking Italian, which may be a problem in the dressing room” – Ravi Baghirathan.

“First Alessia Russo, now Joe Hanks who scored an audacious backheeled winner for Chippenham against Lincoln in the FA Cup, earning the club an amazing £41k and a second-round trip to Burton. It’s said that Tom will be asked to play the lead role in the film” – Mike Smith.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … John Weldon.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

In the latest depressing development from the Human Rights World Cup, one of Qatar’s tournament ambassadors has been fiercely criticised for describing homosexuality as “damage in the mind”.

Fresh from our horse, door and bolted correspondent, Sepp Blatter has admitted that choosing Qatar as hosts was “a mistake”. Asked why, he answered “it’s too small a country” as opposed to, you know, all the other stuff.

The list of those observing personal boycotts of the tournament continues to grow, with Lotte Wubben-Moy, a Euro 2022 winner with England, declaring that she won’t be watching. Beth Mead, her teammate, has also called out Qatar’s discriminatory policies.

A lager shampoo? No, it’s not the latest MasTok trend – it’s what you might get if rowdy fans can bring booze into the stands, a former police constable has warned MPs at a DCMS committee meeting.

Kalvin Phillips will return to the Manchester City squad on Wednesday as they host Chelsea in the Milk Cup third round, while Pep Guardiola also added that goal machine Erling Haaland is “not perfect still” after suffering a knock.

And a small victory for our Stop Football campaign: the Premier League will have a winter break between, er, 13 and 20 January next season. The 2023-24 top-flight jamboree begins on 12 August and will run until 19 May.

STILL WANT MORE?

More on Liverpool: Andy Hunter delves into the highs and lows of FSG’s tenure, while Mark Sweney analyses what a sale could mean from a financial and commercial perspective.

Our HRWC previews continue with No 11: Robert Lewandowski’s Poland and No 12: Saudi Arabia, who will at least have a short journey home.

Ralph Hasenhüttl survived two 9-0 defeats but eventually ran out of answers in his bid to keep Southampton afloat, writes Ben Fisher.

Ben White is in the form of his life and can play in two defensive positions. Surely he should be in Gareth Southgate’s England squad, grumbles Ben McAleer.

And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!

FINISH!

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