It’s Valentine’s Day, love is in the air (for some) and now hearts are going to go all-of-flutter for any Liverpool fan hearing today’s news from the Daily Mirror. They claim that Liverpool FC will be out of Hicks and Gillett’s hands within four weeks.
Back on the first of December the Mirror’s Chief Football Writer Martin Lipton wrote a story that claimed Tom Hicks and George Gillett were trying to sell their stake in Liverpool FC to Dubai International Capital (DIC). It’s just one of many stories that made such claims in recent months, but this one actually saw Hicks go out of his way to deny the claims.
Today Lipton is claiming in an exclusive that a deal is almost done and that DIC will be the new owners by the middle of March, a month from now:
Kop Yanks to be run out of town next month
EXCLUSIVE By Martin Lipton Chief Football Writer 14/02/2008
Liverpool are poised to change hands again – by the middle of next month – as the club’s US owners close in on a double-your-money offer from Dubai.
Despite denials from Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Mirror Sport understands that an outline agreement to transfer ownership of the Anfield giants to Dubai International Capital is in the pipeline.
Sources in New York have confirmed that a £460million deal with DIC – the Dubai government’s financial arm and headed by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum – is now on the verge of conclusion. Anfield fans will rejoice at the news that the two Americans’ ill-starred reign is ending after a series of protests in recent weeks over their treatment of boss Rafa Benitez.
Supporters have demanded a sale to DIC, who were jilted at the end of 2006 when the Liverpool board wrongly believed the deal with the Americans would safeguard the interests of the club. Hicks is expected to stay as part of the new club directorate in the immediate aftermath of the sale.
The effective sale price is nowhere near the ambitious £1billion valuation Mirror Sport exclusively revealed was put on the club by Hicks in November. He and Gillett paid just £219m to take control of Liverpool from David Moores a year ago.
One insider said: “These talks are still ongoing. Tom and George want to make sure they get the right price for giving up the club.”
Despite leaving Liverpool with a £350m debt, they will be able to walk away having made a substantial profit.
In recent days we’ve seen one tabloid print a story that so enraged Rafael Benítez that he’s now started legal action against the author, Rob Beasley, and his paper, the News of the World. So why should we believe this?
Lipton isn’t an established outlet for Liverpool staff and officials to get their stories out through, but of course it was him that Noel White went to in late 2006 to raise his concerns about both the takeover and also about the manager. White’s name wasn’t revealed in that particular tale, but his name was soon known and within days he’d been asked to resign. Although White’s gone, it’s perfectly feasible that either David Moores or Rick Parry, or even Bryce Morrison, the club secretary, have spoken to Lipton – off the record – and are the “Insider” mentioned in the article.
The £460m figure quoted would certainly pay off the portion of the £350m debt the owners are technically responsible for, but which they expect Liverpool FC to pay for, and even if it has to pay off the £105m portion that is on the club’s books there’s still a nice £55m profit for each of the owners. Easy money if that does turn out to be the figure.
It’s too early to celebrate, although a little smile is perhaps allowed. That smile is hard to keep though when reading this from Lipton: “Hicks is expected to stay as part of the new club directorate in the immediate aftermath of the sale“. If it’s the only way to ease him out then I suppose we’d have to accept it – but we want him out. Completely. In fact we’d like his LFC cowboy boots to be put on permanent display in the club museum as a reminder to all that selling to cowboys is a dangerous step to take. Future “custodians” need to take more care than Parry and Moores did when agreeing to a buyer.
This story does match up with reports from other reporters linked to the club, and to various rumours that are gathering momentum.