Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

AFC Liverpool and Liverpool FC

Posted by John Beech on July 13, 2009

There is a definite uncertainty about AFC Liverpool.

No, I’m not referring to either their financial situation or their progress on the pitch. I’m referring to their sense of their own identity.

In my earlier posting on The fate of resurrectionist clubs (1), I looked at FC United of Manchester although their predecessor was alive and not doing too badly in fact, thank you very much, but not at AFC Liverpool. Why did I make a distinction between the two AFCs?

Their births were in similar sets of circumstances but with significantly different motivations. FC United of Manchester was established as a political statement of disapproval at the Glazer takeover of Manchester United. AFC Liverpool was also formed in protest, at the level of pricing of season tickets at Liverpool.

Gregg Roughley of The Guardian dubbed AFC Liverpool ‘Liverpool’s little brother’ (2), and the cosiness of the relationship between the two club provides a basis for this soubriquet. At the time AFC Liverpool was formed, it was made clear that the dispute with Liverpool FC was simply over ticket pricing and was not a statement against Hicks and Gillett (3). Liverpool FC have never been anything other than supportive, and their website carries news of AFC Liverpool, usually in glowing terms, recording ‘triumphs’ (4, then search under ‘AFC’).

The position AFC Liverpool adopted in relation to Liverpool FC was understandable when they were formed, but is it still appropriate today? The FAQ page of the AFC Liverpool website (5), and the ‘About AFC Liverpool’ page (6) make clear that the relationship is still totally benign. The latter even sees the club now stating “We see ourselves very much as part of the LFC family – LFC’s little brother”. Are they secretly hoping for some return to Anfield as a prodigal little brother?

If they were indeed ‘LFC’s little brother’, it strikes me that it would be grossly unfair that the ‘Liverpool family’ is allowed two clubs in the pyramid, with AFC Liverpool denying another club a place in the Vodkat League.

The reality is that AFC are not Liverpool FC’s little brother, nor are they part of a notional ‘Liverpool family’. The sooner they establish their own identity and shake-off their surrogacy pose the better. It is unhealthy and does not bode well for their future. They should perhaps learn a lesson from history – Liverpool FC hardly ‘feel part of the Everton family or Everton’s little brother’ even if initially they wanted to (7).


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