Hicks excuses fail to convince, time they moved on

Tom Hicks has today made yet another bungle in his long list of errors and misjudgements since taking over at Anfield with the nowadays silent George Gillett.

Reports on Friday night that hit the papers on Saturday morning spoke of Jurgen Klinsmann having been offered the Liverpool job before accepting his new role as manager at Bayern Munich. Liverpool FC refused to comment on the stories, and remained silent throughout the weekend.

However that silence was making things much worse for them. There was little doubt that they had approached Klinsmann, the rumours were far too strong and had come from far too many directions in the football world, in the US, the UK and in Europe.

Rafa’s position was being made increasingly difficult.

Added to this was the speculation that Hicks and Gillett were about to sell out to DIC if they couldn’t get that loan refinanced.

Today Hicks made a number of contradictions when trying to explain recent events to the Liverpool Echo.

In an article headlined, ‘Tom Hicks: Jurgen Klinsmann “only an insurance”‘, Tony Barrett gets the scoop of the year so far as far as Liverpool are concerned. The restrictions Tony faces when reporting on such matters mean he perhaps can’t say what he’d like with regards the quotes from Hicks. The paper has always tried to be careful not to offend the top brass at the club, and the editor of the paper, part of the same group as the Daily Mirror, would not allow the article to be pitched too far in opposition to the owners.

Hicks’ story is full of holes, when compared to previous statements, and suggests he either assumes Liverpool supporters are slow-witted imbeciles, or perhaps hasn’t the wit to check his previous statements first to avoid making those contradictions.

The Echo say that Hicks and Gillett met Klinsmann in Hicks’ other home, in Southern California. This meeting took place during the US Thanksgiving Holiday. The 2007 date for Thanksgiving was November 22nd, the day before the never-to-be-forgotten press conference where Rafa repeated the “concentrating on coaching my team” mantra. The following day was the Newcastle match at St James’s Park, where Rafa wore his tracksuit and trainers instead of his usual suit.

At that time Liverpool had just won their previous two matches – the 8-0 Champions League win over Besiktas and the 2-0 win over Fulham in the league. They were still unbeaten in the league and certainly still capable – despite having had less invested than the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United – of challenging for the league.

The owners’ plot included wining and dining both Klinsmann and his wife Debbie, Klinsmann being told he’d be the perfect for the club should Benitez either leave the club or be fired.

Hicks admitted that an offer was made to Klinsmann – but claims it was purely an “insurance policy”. He now says that Benitez has his full support. Unfortunately his word means very little these days.

Rafa has always maintained that at a meeting following the draw with Arsenal on October 28th that everything was fine between him and the owners. But it’s known that Foster Gillett disappeared from England after that game, only returning in December. Back at that October meeting Liverpool had already failed to win those first three Champions League games. Yet the owners did not tell Rafa of any problems with that situation.

The Arsenal game was followed with a Carling Cup win over Cardiff and a goalless draw with Blackburn, before those wins over Besiktas and Fulham.

After the Fulham game came the international break. A number of Liverpool’s players were on international duty, and those that weren’t were injured. Rafa had more time than normal to look at transfers. Transfers he’d discussed following that Arsenal game. But the owners had seemingly lost interest. They and Rick Parry were trying to fob him off; Foster had already disappeared, perhaps to ensure he didn’t let the cat out of the bag about Klinsmann.

Hicks has claimed through the Echo that it was doubt about the Reds progress in the Champions League – following the Besiktas defeat back in October – alongside “communication problems” that made them turn to Klinsmann as a so-called contingency.  In actual fact the time from the Arsenal game until the time of the Newcastle game was pretty much the thirty days Hicks said it would take for their refinancing application to be approved. It’s still not been approved now, almost another two months down the line.

Exactly what the “communication problems” could be that were sufficient enough to line up a replacement is hard to work out. Foster Gillett may have disappeared, for reasons still unknown, but Rafa just wanted to move forward with plans he’d already discussed a couple of weeks earlier. He was told then that the plans he had were fine. Yet four weeks later they weren’t. Why? Had the owners got money worries? Or was it something else?

Hicks explains, or tries to: “In November, when it appeared we were in danger of not advancing in the Champions League, weren’t playing well in our Premier League matches, and Rafa and we were having communication issues over the January transfer window, George and I met with Jurgen Klinsmann to learn as much as we could about English and European football.”

For two weeks of November there were no fixtures, since they’d last seen Rafa Liverpool had at least got the Champions League back on track with that 8-0 win and they were still unbeaten in the league. And now Hicks is adding to his claims that the meeting with Klinsmann was to help them learn a bit more about the game of football over here! Which is it? To learn about the game, or to offer him Rafa’s job?

It seems it was the latter really: “”He is a very impressive man. We attempted to negotiate an option, as an insurance policy, to have him become our manager in the event Rafa decided to leave our club for Real Madrid or other clubs that were rumoured in the UK press, or in case our communication spiralled out of control for some reason.”

Real Madrid had not been rumoured in any reputable English press articles at that time. Rafa was also under contract for another two-and-a-half years. To use that as an excuse is nonsense.

Hicks told the Echo that when they finally managed to get their backsides across the Atlantic, and then after a few days in the country finally talk to Rafa, that they then suddenly realised that there was now no need to go any further in their move for Klinsmann.

A few days after that meeting Hicks used Sports Illustrated to belittle Rafa, claiming he “pouted” when told to concentrate on coaching. The fact he’d perhaps just found out they’d interviewed his replacement had nothing to do with that then? Rick Parry used the BBC to warn Rafa publicly that he had to keep quiet in public about club policy. Gillett spoke at a party before pretty much disappearing again.

Rafa has never said he wanted to leave Liverpool. The one time that happened was well before the Moores sold out to the Americans, and Rafa chose Liverpool above his boyhood idols. He and his wife and kids love the country and the city; he loves the club and the fans. He was promised so much yet given very little by comparison. Now he’s being blamed for the owners talking to Klinsmann – it’s back to them being worried he was going to leave! Hicks said: “After George and I had our long and productive meeting with Rafa following the Man United match, we put all of our issues behind us and received Rafa’s commitment that he wanted to stay with Liverpool.” Rafa’s commitment has never been in doubt Mr Hicks. Where’s your commitment to Rafa? We don’t trust your word; it’s been shown not to be worth a great deal.

Klinsmann never signed the contract with the Americans, probably because he knew his popularity would start off very low and would struggle to increase, and also probably when considering that if this sneaky way of doing business and managing key staff is how the American work, it was perhaps as well he steered clear. Hicks says: “We never reached agreement on an option with Jurgen, and we are both pleased for him that he has a great opportunity to return to Germany and coach a great club team.”

It’s the first time we’ve heard anything close to support for Rafa from Hicks, but it sounds hollow: “Rafa has both of our support, and our communication has greatly improved. Foster, Rick Parry and Rafa now have regular meetings at Melwood on Monday mornings. The two families always try to have a telephonic meeting on Monday afternoons, so we all are on the same page. We all want to win more games.”

The way to show that support for Rafa is to extend his contract. But in reality the damage has already been done. The owners just can’t be trusted. Rafa has earned a lot of respect from Liverpool fans and this respect has allowed him some time to make mistakes, and some patience from the fans. That patience is running out, but it does remain. The owners have done nothing to earn respect from the supporters, quite the opposite, and so patience is something they will struggle to get.

They say they invited Klinsmann over for Thanksgiving because they wanted to learn about football on this side of the pond, then they say they got him in to ask him if he’d mind awfully being the backup should Rafa be sacked or leave.

They claim they thought Rafa might leave because of press reports linking him with Real Madrid “and other clubs”. Which other clubs? When did these reports come out, and were they from anyone remotely reliable?

They also claim that they were considering firing him because of poor results in the league. Yet from the Arsenal game where they were happy until Thanksgiving only had two league games – one was a draw and the other win, and they were still undefeated in the league. They certainly weren’t out of touch of the top. They’re further away from that now, having had three draws in their last three games, so surely Rafa is now under even more of a threat?

The Champions League dropped points had already happened before that Arsenal game; by the time Thanksgiving came along they’d got back on track with an 8-0 win.

There’s also an admission via another Echo story that they had almost come to a deal with DIC for the Arabs to buy a share in the club. Their high valuation of that shareholding blocked the deal. It also alerted DIC to the troubles the owners are in, hence their sitting in the wings waiting for their opportunity to take over. Yet back at the end of November, Rick Parry told the Daily Post, that the stories talking of Hicks looking at selling shares was untrue: “I have seen the story, and as far as I am aware it is complete rubbish,” Parry said at the time.

Chris Bascombe has taken a lot of stick over his reporting, when he was at the Echo and even more now that he’s at the News of the World. But he’d certainly got enough contacts to find out most of the truth that Thanksgiving weekend, with the gaps being filled in during the following weeks.

The owners have used a mixture of lies, spin and silence to avoid owning up to the truth about their intentions. Forget “Snoogy Doogy” and talk of being custodians. They’ve no intention of putting anything of their own into this club, and judging by their ill-advised – if they even were advised – plan to install the failed manager that is Jurgen Klinsmann then it seems they really just don’t care all that much what happens on the field.

This time they’ve gone too far. Already there is deep-seated anger from more and more supporters at the way they are handling our club. And already fans are discussing ways of making this known to the owners. It should also be made known to the financial institutions the owners are speaking to, because they need to know that the owners are not what they make themselves out to be. They’ve not got a clue how to run a football club, and there is a serious risk that the club’s status will fall under their ownership. Liverpool could easily drop out of the top four, even the top six, by employing inexperienced coaches and failing to try and invest in the team at the same rate as their rivals. Another year’s revenue from the new stadium has been lost due to their pathetic showing off of a stadium they couldn’t afford. All in all these owners stand to ruin this club. It’s only a matter of time before they remove their rubber masks to reveal they are actually Neville Neville and Norman Whiteside.

They need to do a lot more than this to even start to win the supporters over. And I believe it’s already too late. Time they left. Time the financial institutions were warned – there’s a vote of “No Confidence” in Hicks and Gillet.

63 thoughts on “Hicks excuses fail to convince, time they moved on”

  1. You have a go at the yanks and then say you wanted Mourinho, you’re a joke.

    Forgive me but weren’t you all begging Moores to sell up? And when the choice was between these two and the Arabs (who were planning to sell on remember?)
    most were happy to have the ‘Yanks.’

    Now when it turns out they aren’t sugar daddies the gullible muppets are all crying. Wakey, wakey, this is what you get when you sell up to non-local entrepreneurs.

    The alternative was to keep it local and adjust ambitions downwards; so which is it?

  2. hick /hɪk/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[hik] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation
    –noun 1. an unsophisticated, boorish, and provincial person; rube.
    –adjective 2. pertaining to or characteristic of hicks: hick ideas.
    3. located in a rural or culturally unsophisticated area: a hick town.


    [Origin: 1555–65; after Hick, familiar form of Richard]
    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
    Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
    American Heritage Dictionary – Cite This Source – Share This hick (hĭk) Pronunciation Key
    n. A person regarded as gullible or provincial: “New Yorkers had a horrid way of making people feel like hicks” (Louis Auchincloss).

    adj. Provincial; unsophisticated: a hick town.


    1. awkwardly simple and provincial; “bumpkinly country boys”; “rustic farmers”; “a hick town”; “the nightlife of Montmartre awed the unsophisticated tourists” [syn: bumpkinly]

    1. a person who is not very intelligent or interested in culture [syn: yokel]

    Says it all really Hick by name Hick by nature.

  3. to mark!
    you didnt answer any of my questions!
    LOL means laughing out loud,
    xenophobic? it couldnt further from the truth,
    teenager, wrong again.
    i do hope the liverpool get through this, and im sorry if i sounded xenophobic, just thought as an LFC supporter you may try backing the manager. I dont think anyone sitting in the kop today would say the things you’ve said. I wish you the best.

    Rafa all the way


  5. In Raffa we trust. I always have and always will (well at least since taking us to Istanbul). I won;t be going to the game tonight but i hope to see a protest worthy of our loyal and loving Manager and worthy of those two faced American backstabbing fools – they shoudl have bought themselves another sporting franchise not a football club.

  6. shanks must be turning in his grave watching whats happening to the mighty club he built..the americans buying the club was ment to start a new era were we wud be able to compete with the big spenders.we all thought the ‘glory days r back’ how wrong were we.the club is quickly becoming a joke.the way they r doing things has never been the liverpool way..its a disgrace the way there treating rafa..he has turned the club around since he came..to win the champs league with the players we had then was a miracle..he needs money to buy the big players he wants..fair enough he has bought some dodgy players but he is doing the best with the money he has..he spent big on 1 player (torres) and look at the class he has…the last thing i have to say is GO HOME YANKS WE DON’T WANT YE IN OUR GREAT CLUB……WE TRUST IN RAFA….LFC 4 LIFE

  7. I for the life of me cannot understand how people can defend the Americans.

    To secretly meet with Klinsmann and offer him the Rafa’s says much about their character.

    Rafa is a world class coach. He has won numerous titles and has been coaching for many years and his record speaks for itself.

    What do the Yanks know about football?


    Leave Rafa to do his job and support him with finance to buy players and Liverpool will win trophies.

    Of that you can be sure!!!

  8. Tom Hicks & George Gillet will sell up anytime soon!
    DIC are seriously thinking about renewing a new bid for Liverpool.
    As Wesley said, what do Americans know about football? Jurgen Klinsmann is a medioca manager but nothing in comparison to Rafael Benitez, why do you think he is wanted by all the major European clubs Hicks?
    One thing which has to be true, Hicks & Gillet will leave before Rafa Does…

  9. I hate to say this, but I don’t believe that this is really about football. There is a global banking crisis, and it isn’t about liquidity: it is about solvency. There is… and will continue to be… a concerted effort to save the banks. (Can’t understand why those clowns should not be made to wear the albatross, but the political powers that be seem to believe that if the banks fail, then everything goes down the tube. They could be right, but the real question is can they be saved? We are after all talking about arrogance so overwhelming as to be classified as hubris… which in the myths was usually followed by nemesis)

    What has this to do with Hicks? Plenty. He and Gillett probably haven’t actually put any money into the club because they don’t have it. Not as cash. Guys like that work on the principle of OPM – other people’s money – and that is why, as with Man U, the debt has gone up up and up some more. This was not a case of them dipping into their pockets and coming up with the boodle. Their own money is in… investments, including hedge funds and so on, which lately have been having a really bad time, and if you were to do a bankruptcy taking account of them, maybe you’d find that the liabilities were more than the assets. Maybe not, but who knows? Who knows enough to trust anything financial any more, when the only safe investments look like gold sovereigns?

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the banks are in trouble. Not big trouble, but humungously obscene hundreds of trillions (not a typo) trouble. Sure, the writeoffs only number tens of billions… but they keep coming… and then another tens of billions… and then another… meaning that there are a number of really big name banks that are now among the walking dead, trying to suck the financial blood of anything that moves in an effort to keep their corpse moving. And LFC’s debt? It has been sold to someone else. And interest must be paid on that debt. Along with principle, if possible. Because if not, then the bondholder takes the assets, and the shareholders get stiffed. And the global financial markets are still in lockup mode, and everyone is starting to worry about getting a return of their money rather than a return on their money, and what started as subprime mortgages is going to spread to ALL mortgages when they readjust. And not just in the U.S.

    Hence the dropping of the new stadium plans. What was doable last year is no longer in the cards. The banks won’t/can’t pony up, because they can’t resell the debt.

    Now, can the new “owners” sell? Probably. But maybe not at a profit. Not now. This is the same dilemma as all those house flippers the world over face: If they sell, they lose money. So they hang on… and the prices drop some more. And eventually they go bankrupt. So to all those who hate the Yanks, enjoy this one. These guys are literally on the coals.

    We can only hope that the club has more value as a club than as a fire-sale of it’s parts. Might be an opportunity for the fans here in the end…

  10. The decision to change from DCI to H&G coincided with the leak of a report stating how DCI could expect to sell liverpool after a few years for a healthy profit. It would be nice to know whether this was a statement of intent, or simply an exit strategy that you would expect to see in any business case. If the rumours of renewed interest from DCI are correct, I am worried that Moores & Parry decided that DCI were not in the best interest of the club, because as H&G show they are not that discerning. With DCI we should be careful what we wish for…

  11. Liverpool debt dispute forces Americans to consider sale
    By Nick Harris and Jason Burt
    Published: 16 January 2008

    A dispute between Liverpool’s American owners and the club’s board over whether to laden the club with massive debts has cast fresh doubt over Tom Hicks and George Gillett’s future at Anfield as new rumours circulated yesterday that they have agreed a deal to sell up.

    One source, a major football financier, claimed last night that Hicks and Gillett had agreed a deal in principle to sell the club, which they co-own, for £350m, and that a process of due diligence was under way.

    The potential buyers most consistently linked with Liverpool in recent months are Dubai International Capital, an investment vehicle ultimately controlled by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, one of the world’s richest men. DIC came close to buying Liverpool a year ago and are certainly still circling, although the source suggested that a different investor – or partnership – might be behind the £350m bid. A DIC spokeswoman said: “We can only say ‘no comment’ at this stage.”

    Insiders at Liverpool denied a deal had been concluded with DIC, or that any due diligence was underway. Equally, both Hicks and the club maintain in private that Hicks, at least, is an unwilling seller, to anyone, at the moment.

    However, a senior source at Liverpool told The Independent that “it is difficult to say categorically what is going on” and it is understood there is a growing schism between the board – which is trying to run the club on a day-to-day basis – and the owners.

    The source of this rift is money, specifically a divergence of opinion about how Hicks and Gillett will restructure their finances. When they bought Liverpool last year, they paid for the club entirely with borrowed money, in the form of a £270m loan from the Royal Bank of Scotland. Of that, £174.1m was spent on equity, £44.8m on pre-existing debt, and the balance on working capital. The RBS loan is due to be repaid next month.

    The Americans’ representatives insist they are close to securing a new £350m loan, most of which will clear their first loan, with the rest spent on initial outlay on the proposed new stadium. The businessmen want to put the new debt directly on to Liverpool’s books, guaranteed, crucially, against club assets, not their own.

    Contrary to reports, the so-called “global credit crunch” has not been a significant factor in delaying a new loan. Rather, according to a well-placed source, “the very significant block” to the Americans’ borrowing plans has been the board’s opposition to heaping that debt on the club.

    When Hicks and Gillett took over, they made much of the fact, referring to events at Manchester United two years beforehand, that theirs would not be a “Glazer-style” takeover, with the club potentially imperilled by debt set against its assets. Now, it seems, that is exactly what they were planning. Neither has spent any of their own cash yet. Unless they guarantee the new loans with their own money – which they may be unwilling or unable to provide – the impasse will continue.

    In that sense, a buyer offering them £350m for their 100 per cent stake could well be attractive. It would allow them to repay their £270m RBS loan and walk away with an £80m profit between them after just a year’s involvement. Yet as recently as last autumn, they were valuing the club at an extraordinary £1bn, a figure unrelated to financial reality.

    Hicks and Gillett’s relationship with the board is rapidly becoming as fractious as that with their manager, Rafa Benitez, upon whom they heaped huge embarrassment on Monday when Hicks revealed he had interviewed Jürgen Klinsmann in November as a stand-by candidate for Benitez’s job.

    “You might be able to make a case that they let Rafa know this had happened,” said one exasperated Liverpool source. “But what on earth Hicks thought he would achieve by telling the world is beyond anyone.”

    Until the Americans have either resolved their financing problems or sold the club, plans for the new stadium, like Benitez’s future, will remain up in the air.

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