The latest article in the Liverpool Echo on Liverpool FC from Tony Barrett is unsurprisingly well-written and once again quite revealing.
Entitled, “Gillett and Hicks, one year on; from hope to despair,” the article serves as a review of one of the blackest years in the club’s history.
In it he discusses the form of the club, and also the transfers that have gone through since the owners came along – and estimates the net cost as just £19m, which of course is less than the income the club received from the Champions League run alone last season.
The stadium, on which the owners promised to start building work last April (it still hasn’t begun), is mentioned, as are their shameful actions in terms of financing their takeover. He also talks about the damage the club’s reputation has suffered from the very public way the truth about the owners has emerged, pointing out: “Three major demonstrations by fans at a club which had previously had none tells its own sorry story.”
One interesting point covered is the relationship between the two owners, and although Barrett stops short of actually confirming there are problems between the two, he does point out the rumours that have been circulating for some time, and the significance of the absence from the most recent refinancing statements of Gillett’s name. He also points out that Hicks has tried to build bridges with Rafa but that Gillett has done nothing of the sort.
The most revealing and interesting part of the report is possibly under the heading “The Future”. In these four paragraphs Barrett raises hope for many Reds. We know that The Dubai International Capital takeover could turn out to be still somewhat short of our needs and expectations, but we know that it can’t be any worse than the mess Gillett and Hicks have put us into.
Tony writes: “Dubai International Capital retain a very strong interest in buying Liverpool, an interest which did not wane whatsoever despite Hicks and Gillett concluding their refinancing deal.
“The investment arm of the Dubai government may have missed out on getting their hands on the club last year, but they haven’t gone away and the Echo understands senior DIC executives have been in dialogue with Hicks and Gillett for several weeks with a view to doing a deal.
“They are ready to test the American duo’s determination to hold onto the club but only at a price that suits them – in their eyes, paying over the odds is not an option.”
Certainly there is nothing new there in terms of how DIC would want any deal to happen – they aren’t here to make two greedy Americans richer for the sake of it, and would only pay what they felt the club was worth. However the report confirms that they are still speaking to the owners – “the Echo understands” meaning that the paper have been told off-the-record that this is indeed the case.
Quite who the source might be that confirmed this fact off the record to the Echo is something that we can all speculate about, but maybe there’s a clue in the next paragraph: “Significantly, Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, whom the Echo can reveal was a boyhood Liverpool fan, has now taken a personal interest in making the deal happen.”
This is the first time we’ve heard that the Sheikh himself described as a Liverpool fan. The DIC chairman Sameer al-Ansari has never made a secret of his support of the Reds, but for the actual Sheikh to allow this information to come about himself out seems quite significant.
The article also goes on to list a number of quotes carefully researched by the author that have come from the mouths of the pair this last year. One that stands out is this, uttered by George Gillett in February last year: “I’m not a person who goes and hides.” Mr Gillett of course has been in hiding since November as far as his dealings with Liverpool FC are concerned.
The reassurance of DIC’s continued interest is important to all those who’ve protested against the current owners, either at the ground or through other means, and will serve to keep the protests strong. The Sheikh’s decision to get involved in the deal himself is hugely significant.
If the Sheikh, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, really was a boyhood Red then he’ll have been a follower of the Shankly teams of the sixties. Born in the summer of 1949, he’d have been ten years old when Shanks took over and a couple of months short of his fifteenth birthday when the great man first won the league title for us. A year later we won the FA Cup with a 2-1 win over Leeds in extra time at Wembley. And of course there were more league titles to come as Shanks set Liverpool on the way to what was to become dominances of the game both at home and in Europe. Dominance that the club have been on the verge of returning to for far too long.
A year on from the supposed squad and stadium investment and we seem to be further away than ever.