According to today's Liverpool Echo, the Reds new stadium will be open in two-and-a-half years. The paper claims to have seen "a secret document" revealing Dubai International Capital (DIC) hope to have completed the takeover of the club by February. As soon as the takeover is complete, the new stadium would start to be built, with "less than 28 months set aside for construction."
The report, under the headline "Red's new stadium open by July '09", says the DIC document refers to the club having already spent £10m on the stadium project and also having budgeted to spend a further £10m by March. One important point mentioned in the story is that naming rights on the stadium are being considered, with a figure of £4m per year being reported.
The document is said to include estimates that "at the current bid of £156.7m for 90% of the club's shares, DIC could increase profits, excluding tax and interest, by 25% a year".
The document is said to name Laing O'Rourke as becoming the "likely contractor" for the building work, and that although the deadline of July 2009 is tight, it must be met in order for DIC's investment calculations to work out. To further protect their investment the building contract would be on a fixed price basis, with the contractors facing penalties of £950,000 per week if they overrun the deadline. LFC are "poised" to place orders for materials such as steel and roof cables to meet the "tight schedule". There is a 15-20% contingency built into the estimates for the costs of building the replacement ground.
Part of the costs of building the new ground, £28.5m, would come from grants.
The document reportedly talks of stadium plans being agreed by the end of January, and that trial events should start to take place in July 2009. Trial events are an issue that will be familiar to anyone who followed the long drawn out (and still ongoing) Wembley stadium rebuild, because big events can't be staged until "trial events" have been successfully staged.
The overall takeover costs are broken down as £156.7m for 90% of the shares, £10m in fees for lawyers and £45m to "refinance existing debts". The Echo says the costs will total £221.7m but doesn't mention where the other £10m is being spent.
DIC are planning to raise "£300m through bonds to fund the construction of the new ground which will account for the repayment of £120m of existing debts to fund the stadium, a further £105.8m to complete construction and £5m of professional fees."
According to the report, DIC have approached Bank of Ireland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of America to help fund the project, with Bank of America appearing "to be favourites".
The report also quotes the following lines about the club from the secret document: "Recent performance has been strong and the club appears to be on its way to achieving consistent results both on and off the pitch. Opportunities exist to boost returns by unlocking 'hidden' value, mainly through developing property and leisure projects on the current Anfield site."
The word "brand" is unfortunately used when talking of how the deal will reflect well on the Middle East's link to a "strong brand with an equally strong international fan base".
There's also a mention of existing deals worth £8m with Adidas for the club's shirt deal, and the £21.6m deal with Carlsberg as shirt sponsor. It also talks of the £2.5m Liverpool have set aside for possible legal costs relating to the dispute with Reebok, the previous shirt sponsors who failed to deliver stock on time (Liverpool were said to be having to buy kit from JJB boss Dave Whelan at one stage for sale in the club shop). LFC feel that Reebok don't have a case.
Another revelation from the secret document is that in 2004 Liverpool were subject of three failed takeover attempts, all offering different valuations. The document also claims that George Gillet has been told that DIC are the preferred bidder. It says that David Moores has made the decision to sell because the club needs a capital injection to advance to "the next level and he is unable to provide this himself".
Interesting also is the mention that the document "sets a seven to eight-year period to re-evaluate its investment in the club and includes several option to realise a profit, such as selling the stadium" – which could be where the author of two Manchester United books who wrote a doom and gloom article earlier in the week (Mihir Bose) drew his ridiculous conclusions from. As the Echo says, "such a timetable is normal in takeover deals of this kind. A business plan will include a fixed period to assess the success of the investment, and the Echo understands that DIC intends to retain its holding in Liverpool for the long term".
It seems this whole article is DIC's indirect response to Mihir Bose's article from earlier in the week, and it pours scorn on his claim that DIC won't be providing cash to Rafa Benitez for new signings. It says, "fears that DIC will not provide transfer funds for the manager appear unfounded as the business plan includes a pledge to 'infuse funding for the club to achieve its business plan objectives and drive a virtuous circle of success'".
Another point to take from this story is that when you read the transfer rumours for this transfer window you don't need to pay attention to any that talk of deals depending on the takeover going through. This document shows the takeover won't be completed until after the window has closed.