Moores: “I made the right decision”

Outgoing Liverpool Chairman David Moores stayed, as always, out of the spotlight yesterday as his beloved Reds were passed over to the new owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillet. Although he knew he had to sell the club in order for it to make the progress that Liverpool fans want it to make, it will have hurt him deeply to realise he was no longer in charge. He wasn’t even a minor shareholder now.

Liverpool have been looking for outside investment for some time, and Moores rejected many an interested party because he didn’t feel their bids were right for the club. A week ago Liverpool fans were worrying about transfer deadline day when all of a sudden it was announced the expected deal with Dubai International Capital was off. The speed with which this final deal went through is frightening in many ways, given the seemingly slow pace to the search prior to that point.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo yesterday, Moores explained how tough the search had been: “It has been a long and hard grind for three years. There's been a fair amount of pressure and stress with it but at the end of the day – after a few kicks under the table from the chief executive Rick Parry – we have managed to battle on until we got what we consider to be the best bid for the club and the supporters. There has never been any dithering.”

Moores also wanted to point out that he did sell the club reluctantly, but says it was sold for the good of the club: “People who know me know that if I could have offered the stadium and found the £200m for it I would have done. But I could not and I will not hold the club back. We had to find the money from somewhere – for the stadium and for players so the manager can have good funds each season, and we are getting that with George Gillett and Tom Hicks. After a family involvement of over 50 years it has been an emotional time. I can’t have been easy to live with.”

Moores paid tribute to Gillett, the half-owner of Kop Football Limited,
the new owners of the majority of the shares in the club: “George
Gillett had a bit of a rough time convincing people when he first went
in there (Montreal Canadiens), coming from America. But he has won them
over and done a tremendous job. When we were contemplating the two
deals we wanted to go with Dubai exclusively and he was very generous
and said 'good luck to them'. I had told him his original bid needed
strengthening up. It wasn’t good enough because we couldn’t see that
there would be enough money for the stadium going forward. To his
credit he went away and came back with Mr Hicks – another very
passionate sports person. Between the pair of them you feel we have
very strong ownership going forward.”

Gillett and Hicks are not football people, but Moores says they do have
a feeling for what makes Liverpool FC special: “I do believe these two
men understand and know the history of the club, its uniqueness and the
fact that our support is second to none. They want to win things – with
their respective clubs they have proved that. They are in it for the
long term. They are fairly knowledgeable about soccer but they are
learning and are not going to pretend to be lifelong fans or anything
like that. Meeting George, I liked his bubbliness – he’s not a dour
character and he’s very passionate about sport.

Moores claims that there were a number of minor doubts he had about the
deal with DIC, which added together caused him a certain amount of
concern. He wanted more time to think through what was being offered,
and when he asked for that time things changed quickly with DIC: “I
only ever have one chance at this decision and we have to feel
comfortable. With the Dubai proposals, there were a few things not
quite right. The longer it went on the more concerned I became. I just
asked if I could have two to three days to clear my mind about a few
things I wasn’t sure on – and I think we were given six hours by them.
So I suppose it was fate. I don’t know.”

It does seem strange that after taking an age over due diligence, and
not making the offer before Christmas as expected, that DIC suddenly
wanted an answer within hours. Moores said that the DIC representatives
they dealt with were not the ones making the decisions, and this didn’t
help relationships either: “We never saw the people at the top with the
Dubai proposal. I will not have a bad word said about the people we did
deal with, they were very honest people, but at the end of the day they
were not calling the shots and if you had a worry and wanted to clarify
something everything had to go back to another level. Then there was
the length of time over the due diligence; that’s when George Gillet
came back in.”

Gillett’s timing seems to have been just right, just as Moores was
worrying about DIC’s proposal, in stepped Gillett with his new partner,
Tom Hicks: “It shouldn’t be said that George Gillett was second choice.
He never took offence when we said we were looking to Dubai. He said
they were good people, that he was disappointed to lose, but he wished
everyone the best of luck.”

Moores also praised his Chief Executive throughout the past few years,
Rick Parry: “I have had a lot of great support. I have a lot of good
friends and have had great support too from the chief executive. He has
been spot on. I don’t know what I would have done without him because
it’s quite lonely at times. It is very hard to let go and to think it
won’t be my club any more. But I am handing this club on into safe
hands because I cannot afford to take it on any further.”

Moores also showed his gratitude to the fans: “The supporters have been
absolutely tremendous to me – the majority of them exceptional. There
were a few times when I was expecting maybe they would have turned on
me and they have not because I think they trust me and see it as it is.
I don’t give them any bull.”

He reflected on his time in charge of the club, including the highlight
of those years in charge: “I've had a great time. There have been good
times and bad times, but the good ones have far outweighed the bad.
No-one can ever take away from me the fact that I was chairman on the
night we won the Champions League in Istanbul. Since the start of the
new millennium we've won more trophies than any other club so it hasn't
been all doom and gloom.”

Moores got himself a position of Honorary Life President, which means
he’ll still be knocking about around Anfield as and when they need him,
and he’ll still get a seat in the directors’ box so that he can watch
the Reds: “I will help out as much as they want me to help out. I'll
still be going to every game, that's for sure. It wasn't part of the
deal for me to stay around. They insisted it should be that way because
they know I understand the club. I'm so relieved the club can now move
forward with a new stadium and more money.”

Perhaps saying it to himself as much as to the fans, Moores said: “I have definitely made the right decision.”

That remains to be seen of course, but it does seem to be the best offer available.