The Full 90

Dear Liverpool fans, Kansas Citians feel your pain. No solutions, though

It’s one of the least expected letter campaigns to hit my inbox. I admit that.

The many, many, letters begin: “We gave you THE BEATLES and this is how you repay us?”

Then go on to lament that American businessmen are running: “our beloved Liverpool Football Club into the ground.”

At the very least, you have to give Liverpool soccer fans points for creativity and passion. There are a lot of letters. And, to be fair, there are a couple versions of it.

The Americans in question are Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. They are both billionaires, both owners of sports franchises in U.S. leagues, as well. The fans insist their problems are that instead of this American ownership increasing the value of the soccer team, they’ve run up a bit of debt for the club. The fans see the $600 million in debt as unsustainable and crippling to their team. The Royal Bank of Scotland holds the paper, and press reports seem to say they agree with the fans’ assessment and will call in the loans in mid October.

In the end, it’s just one more sad tale of big money and big time sports, and a bunch of far-too-invested fans feeling they’ve been cheated out of something they never had, i.e. any degree of a return of the loyality they show to the club. Sometimes, it’s the players who let the fans down _ the strike seasons of baseball and football spring to mind. Sometimes it’s the owners. Seomtimes it’s just a horrible season.

But, in the end, the fans are always _ well almost always _ let down.

American baseball fans are well aware of this sense of betrayal. Kansas City baseball fans perhaps moreso than most. Fans, who pour their hearts into the Royals, lament the sad state of club finances, the sale of peaking talent to be replaced by the too old, or too young. A very rich owner who never seems willing to pour those riches into the team, but is instead to let them stumble about. Fans still buy the jerseys and caps and spend far too much time at games, and feel real heartache at each and every loss (and that’s a lot of heartache in a 162 game baseball season).

Liverpool fans insist their plight is different. They, after all, support a team known for championships, frequently in England, often in all of Europe. They note five decades of success.

Royals fans, of course, would point back to the time Liverpool was king of European soccer (70s and 80s (yes, I know, they’ve had some recent success as well, but not like before)) and say that their team spent a couple decades in the upper reaches of this game, winning a World Series, and losing one, but always in playoff contention.

So the point? Well, there are couple, in the words of Bill Clinton, Liverpool fans, we of Kansas City can feel your pain.

The second is bit more harsh, but perhaps more important. The old cliche is that sports are the candy department. There’s truth in that. As is the case with candy, devote too much time to sport, and you’re going to be sick.

Oh, and we really should say thanks for the Beatles.

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