The first steps towards escape from the nightmare of the last 13 months have been taken with an announcement that George Gillett is to sell his half-share of Liverpool Football Club.
The word first started to leak out early on Friday evening, but it was extremely late in the day UK time before it was confirmed. And by confirmed, it is in fact only confirmed subject to certain conditions being met.
Dubai International Capital have agreed to buy 49% of the club, Tom Hicks buying the other 1% and with it majority control. Clauses in the original shareholder agreement are believed to have meant Hicks was able to insist on that 1% in the event George Gillett wanted to sell.
Gillett won’t be missed.
Amanda Staveley, a senior partner at PCP and representative for DIC, has been working hard on negotiations in a deal that the Dubai organisation were determined to win. She said in a statement: “Subject to renegotiation of a partnership agreement and subject to the stringent minority shareholder protection rights we would be prepared to accept a 49% shareholding in Liverpool FC. This arrangement provides the best possible solution to the situation and would be in the best interests of the club and their loyal fans.”
TheTimes report that the agreement will be finalised in Dubai next week, having been thrashed out so far between Ms Staveley and lawyers working for the American duo.
It has to be said that it’s hard to imagine a worse case than the one Liverpool have operated under in recent months, after George Gillett headed for the hills of Colorado to hide from the wrath of supporters who had finally seen him for what he was. Gillett’s absence meant the club could make no major decisions one way or the other. But Hicks is also despised by the majority of Liverpool fans, who will take a massive amount of work to be convinced that Hicks really can be a part of a successful future.
DIC wanted a review of the club from top to bottom had they taken over in full, and even at 49% they will be carrying that review out. Whether its recommendations are met is another matter, but those mentions in the statement of partnership agreements and protection rights suggest that DIC expect to still wield a certain amount of power and to be far from silent partners.
The current board is made up of two members of the Hicks family, two members of the Gillett family, and the two men who fans feel let the club fall into wrong hands, David Moores and Rick Parry. After the deal is done George and Foster Gillett will likely be replaced by Ms Staveley and possibly also DIC chairman Sameer al-Ansari. Moores and Parry know their future places on the board will now be under threat, Hicks very much believed to want Parry out and replaced by another existing senior staff member, and DIC not having forgotten how they were shabbily treated by Moores and Parry a year ago.