Liverpool bin weekly magazine as cuts continue at Anfield
The root-and-branch American review of operations at Liverpool, which was being personally supervised on Merseyside by principal owner John W Henry yesterday, has led to the club ditching its popular weekly club magazine in favour of a monthly publication, to be published by the same London company which produces Manchester United's magazine and match programme.
Programme Master, which took over the United Review publications from Haymarket in November, will take over the Liverpool titles from 1 July – taking the management out of Liverpool, where Trinity Mirror had previously run it. Staff have been told that Trinity Mirror had lost the rights to maintain production and they may have the chance to apply for their positions. But the monthly format is likely to provide fewer opportunities.
The loss of the weekly publication does demonstrate the scrutiny of costs at all levels at Anfield, where the commercial director Graham Bartlett parted company with the club last month.
Henry, whose Fenway Sports Group dismissed director of football, Damien Comolli, last week, yesterday met manager Kenny Dalglish and held a second meeting in the space of 24 hours with Frank McParland, director of the club's Kirkby academy and one of the last vestiges of the infrastructure created by former manager Rafael Benitez. McParland has told friends that Henry is happy with his work at Kirkby and that there will be more investment. The academy's Under-18s reached the semi-finals of the NextGen European tournament this season, only to lose 6-1 to Ajax in a game which revealed the distance still to travel.
FSG have always cited the academy as a vital part of their "project" at Anfield, with Martin Kelly and Jon Flanagan among those emerging in the early months of Dalglish's second period at the helm. This season has proved more frustrating for those who might have expected to be next. Greater pressure on Dalglish to demonstrate the value of his signings has led to fewer opportunities.
Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom are considered two of the prime assets, but Sterling got the last five minutes of this month's home defeat by Wigan Athletic, while Wisdom has yet to feature. A fee of £850,000 was paid for Sporting Lisbon's 19-year-old Joao Teixeira in January, after his strong performance for Sporting Lisbon against Liverpool in the NextGen tournament, though fans still await the chance to see what that fee has bought.
Though Comolli was dismissed because the Americans viewed the £35m transfer fee paid for Andy Carroll to be a poor piece of business, he also took close interest in the academy and was to be found at a surprising number of reserve and academy games for someone of his seniority. Though very different personalities, he and McParland – who began his Liverpool career in the club's community office before Benitez promoted him and brought him back to Anfield from a period at Bolton Wanderers with Sammy Lee – are understood to have enjoyed a good relationship. Dalglish is believed to feel that McParland should remain a part of the Academy set-up.