uploaded : Friday 11th Apr 2008 at 12:11
by : Dave Smith
I appreciate you taking the time out to reply, but I do believe you're looking at this from a biased perspective. As am I, of course, albeit at the opposite end of the spectrum.
No, it is not normal for sports fans to send death threats, but I'm sure you'll agree that there are lunatics everywhere. That some of them have attached themselves to football is very regrettable but not surprising. I know many football fans who have sent articulate letters and emails to the owners of Liverpool Football Club; I know some that have spoken to the owners personally to put their points across. It's misleading to suggest that the death-threats are wide-spread, numerous or indicative of football fans in this country.
And again, you betray your lack of knowledge in the area on a few counts, and professing you live, eat and breathe sport is surprising when your knowledge, to me, seems superficial.
Yes, there are indeed regularly sports-related riots in the States and Canada; google may be a good start for you, particularly Hockey related violence is common-place. It was only last month that someone pointed me at a riot following the Stanley Cup Final where thousands took to the street of - I think - Denver and caused millions of dollars worth of damage. I don't recall that ever happening in this country.
Liverpool were not banned from European competition for 10 years following the Heysel disaster, they were banned for 5, and took it upon themselves to add to the ban for an additional 2.
If you want to research the Heysel Stadium disaster, then let me know and I can point you in the right direction to several good web-sites: blame for the disaster was attributed to Liverpool fans, Juventus fans, the Police, the Mayor of Brussels, and UEFA executives. Was there blood on our hands? Indeed there was, and its a day of real shame and regret. But the blame is not ours alone, and the deaths were directly as a result of a wall collapsing in a decrepit crumbling stadium that was due to be demolished.
I understand the need for brevity in writing articles, but your facts were incorrect. 80,000 is not 75,000 - to account for the applied for planning permission. And your main thrust was that the American owners are taking it forward, when actually, they've stalled it for 15 months because they do not have the money they promised they did have.
I don't want to stray too far from what I'd consider my area of expertise, and my main reason to write to you was to point out the glaring inaccuracies in your article, but as you've widened the debate, I will respond.
I have had various Jewish friends in the past (coincidentally, and I know this sounds trite, I'm currently reading "Kalooki Nights" - which gives a non-Jew a fascinating insight...albeit of course a very limited one), so while I'm far from an expert, I do empathise perhaps more than average with a jewish perspective on things. In many ways, there are echoes in the Scouse community, with a real prejudice being felt from the country as a whole. Obviously, that's on a microscopic scale compared to the persecution of Jews over the millenia, but like with scousers at times, in this instance I think you're seeing an issue where none exists. Liverpool fans' objections are to two Americans in particular, and for a particular set of reasons. It's not an American thing. "Yanks Out" is just a slogan against those two, not to a country And I'm completely baffled how you've taken jewish inferences from the anti Gillett and Hicks demonstrations. You do know they're not Jewish don't you? There was and is no reason to link our protests against the owners to anything Jewish. It seems like you were shoe-horning in Jewish references just to create a relevance to the publication.
I've bounced around a couple of your articles this morning, and have noticed that you have experienced several anti-American and anti-Jewish incidents whilst in this country. That is, of course, abhorrent, extremely surprising, and I'm sure it must have been traumatic and I apologise on behalf of my fellow countrymen/women. I understand how the climate in this country could leave you on edge, but I detect a far stronger current of hatred against Muslims than Americans. I detect no current of hatred against Jews. I've never, in any debate with any non-Jew, discussed feelings about Jews. It's a non-issue for everyone I know, much less so than, for example, Catholics/Protestants, although that is also rarely discussed. I'm sure it's different for Jewish people, but for an average man living in this country, I see no anti-semitism.
The examples you quote are interesting. Was the St John's Women's group abused because they were Jewish, American, or some other reason? I know many Manchester United fans, and they have never mentioned once that Glazer is Jewish. They mention plenty of times that he's put a previously financially successful club into £800m of debt, but that's about it. As I referred to earlier, are you sure the sentiment is anti-American, or anti-semitic, or is that just the convenient box they're being put in, while the actual grievance lies elsewhere? I see people objecting to foreign influence in our game full stop. Americans are at the vanguard of that as they own the two most successful English teams. A Jew is also up there to be shot at because he has created a successful team in Chelsea - but his Jewishness (I didn't realise he was until your email), and the fact they're American is simply co-incidental. If they were French, Italian, Chinese etc etc etc, the issue would be the same, but the 'box' used to describe them would change.
Also, I take great issue and offence with your friends comments that it's like 1938 Germany, and I believe you should too. I know enough about the Third Reich to know that this country for all it's faults, is nothing, whatsoever, similar.
For my part, I'm the first to jump to the defence of America when the liberal intelligentsia taking their regular swipes, usually quoting Iraq and Israel/Palestine, while going strangely muted when Afghanistan, The Balkans, Western Europe 1917 and 1941, the Far East and Pacific circa 1941 are brought up. This country owes a lot to America and it's sons and daughters, not least it's freedom.
Feel free to publish any of my emails, I welcome both the debate, and the opportunity to correct what I believe are mis-interpretations and inaccuracies.
From: Carol Gould
Sent: 10 April 2008 12:42
To: Smith, Dave
Subject: Re: Jewish Comment Article
It took me weeks to research the article. One of my quotes is from one of the Liverpool -related sites itself. Interesting points. Whether Hicks and Gillett were greeted warmly or not is is NORMAL for sports fans in a civilised country to be sending death threats to 1) Avram Grant; 2) Malcolm Glazer; 3) Gillett; 4) Gillett's family 4,000 miles away; 5) Hicks etc etc? You may think I know little about British football and Liverpool ( PLEASE believe me that I live, eat and breathe sport and am not ignorant ) but the fact is that this behaviour is aberrant and repellant. the men on TV are slugs, with their shirtless, tattooed, drunken babbling. Did you hear that the American sporting associations have complained to the advertising authority in the USA about excessively enthusiastic alcohol commercials? Have you ever been to a sporting event in the USA, where 'hooilgan' or 'lout' is not in the vocabulary? Was Liverpool no banned for ten years after the tragedy and its fans banned for five? I know of no such situation anywhere in North America including the tough audience at Canadian hockey.
I know perfectly well that the new stadium is suited for 60,000 and that planning permission is needed for 80,000 but I edited that out for the sake of brevity in my column.
Incidentally, anti-Semitism caused the deaths of six million and is now at 'tsunami level' in the UK, to quote Chief Rabbi Sacks, ( did you not read the opening paragraph of my article about Profesor Wistrich's findings?) and you can be darned sure that if I were to quote a person who says something anti-Semitic I could care a toss if they sue me for libel, because my generation does not sit and quake in its boots for fear of libelling someone who even sio much as insinuates wrongdoing by a Jew. Did you now know how many Peers and MPs including non-Jews took David Mellor to task last fall when Grant was appointed, and that at one stage the police were asked by various anti-racism organisations to purse him? Are you Jewish? Do you know what a Blood Libel is? I can see one a mile away. Did you know that a Jewish- American philanthropist won millions from the Daily Mail a few weeks ago for an anti-Semitic libel against him, (and then he gave the money to the Royal Marsden Hospital)? Do you think I live on an island? Everyone I know for the past few years has talked about the 'anti-Semitism' about Glazer and now about Grant, plus the stupid insinuation by Matthew Norman that Stan Kroenke is another Jewish tycoon. Do you appreciate that in the culture in which I grew up long ago, even in the 1960s such insinuating references to a person's religion would have got a columnist fired? In my large circle people refer to the hatred of Kroenke ( not Jewish) and to Hicks and Gillett as 'the new anti-Semitism'; this expression was first used by the St John's Wood Women's Group ( an American wives' group) in 2001 about how much abuse they and their husbands got in the UK and nowhere else, to the point that they could not take their kids anywhere. One fellow member said to me 'Carol, we feel the way the Jews did in 1938 in Germany.' Dave, do you not understand that the hatred of 'Yanks' as expressed in torrents since Americans took an interest in English football is sick and scary to me and to us trying to live here?
I'd like to print your letter as I think you raise some points which other might like to write in about.
I've just read your Guest Editorial, and really must take issue with your complete lack of understanding of the situation at Liverpool Football Club. You've taken a naieve and ill-informed brief impression and then built upon that innaccuracy with an entire article. There are so many factual mistakes that it's difficult to know where to start, but to highlight a few:
"According to the team website ‘Liverpool made record losses of £21.9m in the financial year ending 31 July 2004."
We then turned a profit in the two subsequent years before being taken over. We were not a business in trouble as you seemed to be trying to portray.
"In the intervening years [sic 2004-2007] Liverpool has had a rough time"
In actual fact, we won the European Cup in 2005 (the highest club honour - the World Series might serve as a comparison you'd understand) and the FA Cup in 2006, and reached the European Cup Final again in 2007. Oh for rough times like those every year.
"new all reserved-seat stadium with a capacity for 80,000 spectators, with a completion date of 2010"
The reality being that we already had permission for a 63,000 seater stadium. Gillett and Hicks proposed a new 70,000 seater stadium and promised to get the first spade into the ground within weeks of the buy-out. It's now 15 months later, and no spades have been seen.
"Hicks and Gillett became the club’s new owners on 6 February, 2007, but shortly after the rot set in. Many fans were incensed. The idea of ‘two Yanks’ owning the most successful club in British football history infuriated many."
Initial reactions to "two Yanks" taking over was very, very warm, and it was widely acknowledged and reported as such.
It was about 9 months later that things soured, and only when two key things happened, that you appear to either have ignored or have no knowledge of:
1. Restructuring of the loans taken out to buy the club led to £105m of debt being levied directly against Liverpool Football Club, which they'd expressly promised not to do. The servicing of the remaining £245m debt used to buy the club was also to be carried out by Liverpool Football Club.
2. They started to talk to another manager behind our current manager's back, and were looking to replace a man who'd brought us outstanding success, with one who had no experience whatsoever of managing a football club.
To suggest that anti-American feeling is behind this is wrong, to further infer and somewhat randomly, that there is anti-semitic sentiment is distasteful in the extreme, and if you'd used an individual instead of a group, it would be libellous.
I could go on more, in particular with regards to you trying to take the moral high-ground while using abusive terms like "alcohol-ridden slugs passing for men" but I'm sure your finger is hovering over the delete key as you read this, so I will end it there. Earlier in your article you stated that a friend of yours advised you against "writing about something you know nothing about". It's very obvious that in regards to Liverpool Football Club at least, it was good advice.