Another day and another angle on the interest from DIC in getting hold of a chunk of the most successful club in English football history. After briefing the Echo off the record earlier in the week that they were about to make an offer to buy out Tom Hicks and become joint owners with George Gillett, DIC now seem to have been briefing the BBC. And today’s story claims they’ll be making an offer to buy out both owners, in a deal worth £500m
Hicks and Gillett have seen their plans for the Reds come close to failure in the midst of a messed-up financial world. A year ago they took out a loan, secured in their own names, which enabled them to pay off all the shareholders at a rate of £5000 per share, to pay off the club’s debts and to have a little left over to work with.
They paid £174.1 for those shares, and paid debt of £44.8m off, a total of just under £219m.
However they borrowed £298m from RBS.
The price of buying the £174.1m of shares was claimed in their offer document as actually costing them £185m, the extra money being classed as “associated costs”.
The remaining £113m borrowed was referred to as a “revolving credit facility”. This was to include paying off the £44.8m worth of debts. The remaining £68m of this “revolving credit facility” was supposedly aimed at funding the club and paying for preliminary work on the new stadium.
It would be interesting to see a breakdown of how that £68m was actually spent. At the time of the takeover it was expected that most of that would go into getting the building work underway on the new stadium. That didn’t happen – Hicks decided he wanted to get some other plans done; plans which left the fans in disbelief, so impressive were they. Actually they were too impressive. They hadn’t been costed up in any detail, according to Hicks, and when they did get a building price they realised they’d overdone it. However much it cost for those aborted plans to be drawn up and presented to the council, it was wasted money. And the owners have just had another two sets drawn up with a lower budget in mind. They are supposed to make their decision just about now on which set to go for, but there’s little sign of that happening.
So, the £68m spent, on what we don’t know, the owners now find that 12-month loan has nearly run out. So they need to get a new loan.
Reports vary slightly about why they are now looking for a £350m loan to pay off the year-old £298m loan. It’s claimed that the £350m will also pay off extra finance used to buy players in the summer, and to pay off the interest from the last year. If so we are talking of the club spending a massive £120m in a year, on top of the multi-millions that came in from prize money, TV money and other sources of income. Where did that money go? We didn’t buy a net £120m worth of players, we’ve not got half a stadium built.
Today the BBC website, along with BBC Radio Five Live and even Match of the Day have all made it clear that DIC are about to make an offer to buy the American duo out. When the Beeb say “The BBC understands…” ahead of some story, it means they’ve been given the information by somebody involved in the story, somebody who can’t be quoted on that for various reasons.
The BBC’s report said: “Dubai International Capital – the investment arm of the Dubai Government – is to launch a £500m bid to buy Liverpool Football Club. BBC Sport understands the offer is in the process of being made to American co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks.”
So either someone from DIC has briefed the BBC, or someone at the club who knows for a fact that this offer is about to be made has tipped the BBC off. So the offer is real, but that doesn’t mean it will be accepted.
The £500m would represent a phenomenal increase on what DIC would have paid last year had their own bid been accepted. They perhaps regret not jumping in with an increased offer a year ago, although they were said to be most angry at the way Moores and Parry handled their bid and that of the US pair. After hearing of the interest from Hicks and Gillett, DIC had put a deadline on their offer and Liverpool refused to meet it. The bid was withdrawn and Hicks and Gillett took over.
The BBC say DIC will make the offer “swiftly” to give the despised Hicks and his partner Gillett an opportunity to get out before committing the club to a loan it probably won’t be able to afford. With Parry and Moores reportedly against the loan, there are no certainties it will even be given to the club. Despite repeated claims from Hicks that he did not want to sell his shares in the club, this offer may prove too tempting for a man on the verge of some quite sustained opposition to his ownership of the club.
Supporters had in many cases been unwilling to believe the stories coming from Anfield claiming Hicks had made plans to fire manager Rafa Benitez. They’d refused to accept the surely outrageous stories that Jurgen Klinsmann, without experience at club level and hardly a favourite of Liverpool fans, had been lined up as the new manager. Hicks had already denied wanting to fire Rafa, saying it was something the press had made up. Then on Monday he admitted that he had indeed planned to fire Rafa, and had interviewed and offered the job to Klinsmann. He added that he would have sacked Rafa if we had gone out of the Champions League, or if the league form continued in the way it was (unbeaten but with a couple too many draws). Fans now realised that although it can’t be blamed for all the dropped points so far this season, Hicks’ – and Gillett’s – constant undermining of the manager had probably ensured Liverpool couldn’t challenge for the title this season. Certainly the defeat at Reading saw Rafa make earlier substitutions of key players than you’d ever normally see when behind in a league match, but with his job hanging on one result a few days later it was no wonder.
Hicks in particular is now despised by Liverpool fans. There really is no way back for the Texan as far as supporters are concerned. Perhaps if he’d made his admission on Monday and accompanied it with a heartfelt apology and some self-criticism of how wrong he’d been he’d have been given a slim chance. But he comes across as far too arrogant to admit mistakes, instead trying to justify his decision with reasons that don’t stand up to scrutiny. He lied. Liverpool fans don’t like being lied to; we’ve suffered from lies before and won’t suffer from them again. Hicks will never be welcome at Anfield again.
Gillett is hardly off the hook himself. Although he has kept quiet in recent months he was there at the Klinsmann interview, and has certainly not stopped Hicks from his amateurish actions. He’ll still find it difficult to earn any respect or trust from Liverpool fans, but the door isn’t completely closed. It’s clear the pair haven’t seen eye-to-eye since Athens, but Gillett seems to have been unwilling to stand up to the Texan.
Although not universally loved by all Liverpool fans, more often than not due to statements made in their name but not by them, the Reclaim The Kop group are going to lead the protests against the owners in Monday night’s league match with Aston Villa at Anfield. Differences between RTK and other fans are pretty minor, and all will be buried on Monday for the greater good. Liverpool fans will show their solidarity against the owners.
The message is simple. Tom Hicks: get out of our club, out of our director’s box, out of our lives. And Monday’s protests will be but the start of what will be a long and concerted effort against Hicks, and Gillett for that matter if he continues to allow Hicks to ride roughshod over our club and its traditions.
If DIC make that offer, Hicks will have to decide if he’d rather take the quick and, frankly, immoral profit on offer for selling up now, or if he wants to hang on and try and squeeze more out over a much longer term. The pair will need to decide if the aggravation they’ll face by staying on is worth it. Gillett is now 69, and will be getting on quite a bit before he’ll see a return on his money if he lets this offer slip past now.
Liverpool fans just have to wait. It’s MLK Day in the States on Monday, a national holiday, and a good opportunity for Hicks and Gillett to meet and discuss their options. Millions of Liverpool fans the world over will be hoping that they choose to jump into the DIC escape pod and finally leave our club alone.