LFC fan left DIC after Reds talks broke down

After the statement from Tom Hicks yesterday evening that he had terminated talks with Dubai International Capital over their potential purchase of 49% of the club, the press was surprisingly quiet.

Most of the journalists who normally cover the Reds were in Milan, flight problems permitting, and so in many cases may not have been in a position to give the news their full focus or to get the full run-down on what DIC’s latest stance was.

Over the past number of weeks we’ve seen story after story claiming another development had taken place in talks between the current co-owners – Tom Hicks and George Gillett – and DIC. For a long time there were no official comments from DIC, but no end of unofficial ones.  Last week saw DIC CEO Sameer el-Ansari finally admit talks were in progress, a working week that ended with DIC negotiator Amanda Staveley announcing DIC would accept 49% but were hopeful of eventually getting 100%.  A leaked letter made sure everybody now knew that Hicks representatives would be at the offices of Dubai by Monday, and its leaking enraged Tom Hicks.

The only real response coming from the DIC camp was a repeat of rumours a week ago that the shareholder agreement Tom Hicks is using to veto any sale by Gillett may not stand up to legal scrutiny. Clearly that possible legal way around the block by Hicks is a matter of contention, because if it was a matter of fact it would already be in use. Why announce an acceptance of 49% if there’s a sure-fire way of getting 50%? That fact it isn’t cut and dried means we may find our club dragged through the courts before any legal challenge is successful.

It’s not going to be confirmed if it was a coincidence or a consequence, but in the aftermath of those talks breaking down came an announcement that another Liverpool supporter amongst the chiefs at DIC had stepped down. The chief executive of DIC’s emerging markets division left “by mutual consent”, supposedly to pursue other interests. Khoury was one of those DIC representatives photographed at Anfield in the lead-up to their first aborted bid to buy into the club.

Maybe the departure of Khoury means nothing, but Reuters now claim that talks are back on. Or in their words “continuing”. Elena Moya reports: “Talks between Dubai International Capital (DIC) and Liverpool co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks are set to continue on Tuesday and over the next few days, despite Hicks’ announcement on Monday that talks had broken down, a source familiar with the situation said on Tuesday. Negotiations over the future of the football club will carry on in Dubai.” There’s another one of those unnamed sources again. If talks are back on, and let’s face it nobody has officially said they are, perhaps Khoury’s departure is linked in some way.

Hicks ended the talks, according to the official statement, because of what he said was an intention by DIC to run the club as a “committee”, or to be more precise their intentions that Hicks would not have the overall final decision on future activities at the club. DIC were not keen on the idea of Hicks having a majority of members on the board, Hicks was unwilling to consider the idea of a 50-50 split on voting rights on the board.

As for the board, there has been more spin from the DIC camp in today’s Echo. Tony Barrett is out with the squad in Milan, ready to cover tonight’s match against Inter. In his place in Liverpool sits Dave Prentice, who with all due respect is a blue and hardly likely to grill anyone giving him information with the same intensity a Liverpool fan might. His article is headlined “Tom Hicks rejects idea of Liverpool FC fans on board” suggesting perhaps much more than it really means. He goes on to claim that the sticking point that led to the collapse of the talks was when DIC “proposed putting a fans representative on the Anfield board. It is understood that DIC wanted a supporter representative in the boardroom, with full voting rights.”

Perhaps it’s too easy to be cynical, but how likely would it be that an organisation like DIC would allow a casting vote – presumably – to be held by any old supporter? Obviously they’d like Sameer al-Ansari on the board, a Liverpool fan, and perhaps that’s what they meant, but it’s unlikely any responsible position in a billion-pound company would be held by a supporter with no relevant experience other than being a supporter. By all means, give Kenny Dalglish a job on the board, he has enough experience of the game and has no doubt spent enough time mixing with board members to understand enough to actually be in a position to contribute to the running of the club. Likewise by all means appoint a Liverpool supporter who has expertise in other areas important to the running of a club, perhaps a finance expert.  But to recruit someone from out of The Kop, or even to allow Spirit of Shankly to have a voting presence on the board is way too far-fetched to take seriously.

The kinds of decisions this person could make could be extremely significant. DIC are not so naive as to assume that the supporter would always be on their side. The attention that currently has most fans completely against Hicks may never fade, but if it did could DIC rely on this casting vote suiting their aims? Would they risk their investment in this way? It doesn’t make sense that they would. Yes, by all means, allow fans to be a part of the larger decisions, consulted on overall policies on various matters, but the DIC honeymoon period will be over one day and the truth might not quite sit easily with fans.

Nothing has been said officially by DIC on this matter, yet it grows legs and becomes fact before we know it. When push comes to shove, if DIC get part of the club, they can deny having ever promised such a move and we have to admit to ourselves that we assumed something we shouldn’t have. Isn’t that what we did 13 months ago?

Meanwhile Share Liverpool FC have pointed out that they are still serious in their intentions of taking a part of the club. In a statement they said: “According to press reports yesterday, Tom Hicks has terminated talks with DIC over the ownership of the club. ShareLiverpoolFC believes the long-term future of Liverpool Football Club lies with ownership in the hands of the club’s loyal and passionate supporters. A constitution for a supporter-owned club has been drawn up which guarantees a one member one vote democratic model which will allow proper professional management of the Club.

“We believe the current owners should now be exploring how those loyal and passionate supporters can be given a genuine voice in the direction of the club, and how a mutually satisfactory arrangement can be made that will allow the current owners as well as the fans to realise their respective ambitions.

“In light of the supporter response to date, ShareLiverpoolFC is confident that it can raise the sums needed to support a buyout very quickly, and that it now represents a serious alternative.

“We believe the time for a new model of football club ownership has arrived. ShareLiverpoolFC can make this a reality for Liverpool Football Club.”

For now it’s best to put it to the back of our minds and try to enjoy tonight’s match against Inter Milan. A single goal from Liverpool would leave Inter needing four to go through, but one goal from Inter would open the tie up again.

28 thoughts on “LFC fan left DIC after Reds talks broke down”

  1. The Hicks camp have today issued a statement denying that the fan on the board proposition was ever put or rebutted at the meeting which renders the prentice article moot to say the least. The question of the veto will be complex. Hicks and Gilletts" beneficial ownership of the club resides at the top of the corporate chain set up via Cayman to the State of Delaware. Their agreement will probably be subject to US jurisdiction and strict confidentiality rendering all talk of legal challenge or time limit speculation. DIC maybe exploring the possibility of a challenge through the british legal system on the grounds that it is prejudicial to to the interests of a british resident corporate ie LFC.

  2. John, from your informed legal opinion on these matters, would any challenge through the British legal system result in an enforced lock-down on assets within LFC – that is, for the duration of the legal challenge, would LFC still have the power to buy and sell players?

  3. Julie, I am no lawyer just an avid  reader of the various forums and press comments on our club. I do know something about M&A (mergers and acquisitions) though having been the victim of two takeovers! Certain statements can be made from logical deduction.1. DIC are not a party to the actual agreement between Hicks and Gillett so obviously cannot contest it.2. It is probable that Gillett has made DIC privy to the wording or they would not be able to postulate a legal challenge.3. If it was as simple as a time stipulation e.g. 90 days then Gillett would finalise a deal with DIC then inform Hicks who would have a finite time in which to either match or outbid it.4. US corporates set up in Delaware due to local laws protecting anonymity, limited liability, providing virtual "offshore" status and with a benevolent tax regime. Not the best place for a foreign challenge to a US corporate baron even if DIC acted in Gillett’s name.5. DIC might have redress to unfair contract terms provisions in the English legal system if they/Gillett acted in concert. I don’t believe Hicks could maintain an indefinite veto if that situation damaged the interests of the football club.No doubt we have legal experts cruising this site and I hope they can address your point. My untrained feeling is that the complex chain of beneficial ownership here might work to the clubs benefit. A legal wrangle over a provision in an agreement between partners in a Delaware company owned by a Cayman Company itself wholly owned by KopHolding should not enable freezing of assets in LFC. 

  4. I am a lawyer and it seems to me highly implausible that the legal situation could be anything near as straightforward as Hicks is portraying it. 

    A simple veto by each partner on the other selling would (among other things) seriously devalue each partner’s shares (including their value as loan security).  However even if the situation remained as it is currently (with Gillett) keeping his 50% shareholding all DIC have to do is persuade Gillett to use his votes on the board to paralyze anything Hicks tries to do with the Club.  Since most fans (and virtually all financial experts) consider Hicks’s plans unworkable anyway this would surely be welcomed by virtually everyone except Hicks and his bankers (RBS) who must be getting incredibly nervous about the situation he is creating for himself.  
    John Steele, the scenario may well be as set out in your point 3)  above or some fairly close variation of it.  Certainly Hicks’s behaviour gives the impression that he believes he is now entitled as of right to buy out Gillett if he can match DIC’s offer regardless of what Gillett wants.   This is consistent with Gillett having given Hicks a 90 day notice.  Although it is theoretically possible that Hicks could raise this amount from someone that someone would have to be clinically insane to invest such a sum of money with someone like Hicks.  

    Even if Hicks could somehow pull this off it seems virtually unthinkable that he could renegotiate the existing loan in 16 months time never mind borrow the additional £300 million required for the new stadium.  Hicks’s position is really pretty fucked in a number of ways but he is just too proud to do the smart thing.  Sounds like another Texan we know who resides in the White House.     

  5. Anfielder. I bow to your wisdom.If Hicks had any real hope of bringing in a competitor for Gillett’s shares or raising the funds to buy them himself he would never have written to DIC with a 60 page draft partnership agreement. I fully agree he will have no confidence of successfully refinancing when the current deal runs out. That lack of confidence is based I believe on the extent to which he has already leveraged his US assets. The finance for the stadium I don’t see as a major worry at this stage as if he were able to use the £60-80m provision already arranged and actually get the ground work underway the club could obtain finance on a progressive basis, based on the increasing equity in the stadium as it rises from the ground. (I see self-builders do this most weeks on Grand Designs???).I think we agree that all we have at the moment is a pissing contest with Hicks not yet having had the offer which massages his considerable ego and DIC unwilling to drive a coach and horses through their "we won’t pay over the odds for assets" mission statement. They will eventually deal, I believe, because of the time factor you mentioned but also because there is no other game in town.

  6. I’m no lawyer but i’ve been involved in  aborted M&A activity and seen how PR agencies, like the one hired by Hicks, operate.

    Since DIC came out with its public statements and Hicks responded by dismissing them and then DIC’s 49% offer, this prospective and so public business deal had brinkmanship written all over it.

    But you know, Hicks is a wily character. Dismiss him at your peril. My guess is there are one or two americans who would certainly be interested in investing in the club, regardless of the credit crunch and inspite of him. But it’s for us, the fans to keep the public pressure up. No prospective owner wants the media stink that comes with such a public/community ownership.

    Tonight’s victory, as it appears, may add a few more zeros to Hicks (and Gilletts) asking price. Talk about a double-edged sword!

  7. Julie/Midlands. Here’s a post from boohog on YNWA which amplifies my point about the chain of companies and seems authoritative:QUOTE(boohog @ Mar 11 2008, 13:49) There are two possibilities for the current situation with regard to Hicks powers to block Gillettes sale:1) There is some kind of veto clause in the shareholder’s agreement2) Each shareholder has pre-emption rights in the event the other is to sellStarting with the pre-emption rights, typically there will be a period following an initial offer for the shares from a third party to submit an equivalent offer, in which case they exercise their preemption rights and buy the other party’s stake. if they can’t meet the asking price then the sale if free to proceed.If there is a veto, then firstly it is important to understand where the veto applies due to legal jurisdiction. i.e. at what point in the holding company chain do Gillette and Hicks own their stakes. As I understand it, the group looks something like this (this is a guess by the way but it will look something similar to this in any event and the principle stands):Gillette Co…….Hicks Co….50%……………50%……|……………….|……|_________.|…………….|……..Kop Delaware……………..(not sure if this company exists)…………….|…..- 100%……..Kop Cayman…………….|…..- 100%………….Kop UK…………….|…..- 100%…………..LFCSo the veto probably applies in the shares of the topco in the chain (Kop Delaware). That would imply that the legal jurisdiction would be that of Delaware (or wherever the topco is registered – possibly the Cayman company).I have little knowledge of the intricacies of Cayman or US law, however I would expect that they would both treat a veto in a similar manner to the UK so I will give my opinion on what the situation under English law would be.My understanding is that under English law a blanket veto would be considered an unfair contract and be likely to be ignored by the courts. The selling party may have to demonstrate that they had gone through a fair process of informing the other party of the bid and offering them the stake at the same price (which may be the schenanigans that have just occurred), but ultimately the veto would hold no weight and Hicks would not be able to stop Gillette from selling.Alternatively, Gillette could go ahead with the sale and Hicks would have to try to get an injunction in which case it would go to court and the veto would likely be set aside) however it is very difficult in the UK to get an injunction for the sale of a private company in time. In that case hicks would then have to sue and demonstrate loss to the courts however the result of such a case would be financial remedy if anything, rather than possession of the shares. If Gillette did this, there is no doubt DIC would have to indemnify him in the event he was held financially liable by the courts and pay up whatever he was liable for.there are of course many other possible alternatives dependent on the drafting of the clause in the shareholders agreement, but inevitably any of these routes would lead to court and potentially a prolonged legal battle over ownership, which may be Hick’s goal.

  8. Points taken. And, I’ll have to trust your word on most of it.

    But the big ‘don’t know’ in all of this is Gillett.

    Not a word. Not a peep. We don’t know whether he’s actively or passively trying to sell his shares. All we know is that DIC and Hicks have told us he is. But what happened to the great communicator? Who cut his tongue? And, why’s he allowing Hicks to dictate the public pronouncements? Would be good to flush him out.

  9. John/Anfielder/midlands – thank you all for some informed perspectives into this legal miasma otherwise known as the LFC ownership issue. I have to agree that one of the biggest mysteries in this is Gillett’s intentions (and, further to that and Anfielder first point about the current 50/50 split ensuring equal responsibilities for decision-making: why did Gillett agree to the RBS/Wachovia loan afterall?). I don’t doubt that he’s fuming at being pushed out of a deal that he wooed for at least a year (kind of like courting a woman to be your bride, only to have the best man cart her off on your wedding night). Assuming that he has no loyalty and no sense of commitment to LFC, does it simply come down to him choosing between greed for a bigger payout versus revenge for Hicks’s machinations?

    Given that Gillett reportedly had some difficulty way back at the beginning of this fiasco when he was looking for a financial partner to buy the club, surely the attractiveness of buying into England’s most successful football club has decreased since then as a result of Hicks’s public blunders and the reported devaluation of his other holdings, undermining the credibility of any proposed partnerships. To that end, to quote Anfielder, who would be clinically insane enough to hold his hand through this? He has rich friends in high places, but they didn’t get there by giving handouts to their friends (okay, well, maybe they did, but do we really want to open the lid on political bribery? Sorry, I digress.)

    If DIC are doing their sums right now, and calculating in one column the cost of paying the dreamland price Hicks is asking, and in the other column adding up the legal costs, plus any indemnification costs they would need to supply to Gillett if a lawsuit was forthcoming, maybe column B is cheaper and more satifying for them.

  10. I see your point about who’d be insane enough to want a joint venture with Hicks.

    However, DIC seem willing – so why not anyone else? Unless DIC are in it to ineffect ease Hicks out, knowing how vulnerable his economic position remains.

    Intrigingly, todays Telegraph piece by David Bond may actually make Gillett feel he has to publicly defend his position. I sincerely hope the now silent partner takes this opportunity.


  11. midlands, Unfortunately the link didn’t work for me but I’m guessing this is the article about the emails to the fans. Just when you think that this situation couldn’t get any closer to a playground spat, here is another very public cry of, "It wasn’t my fault! He did it!" This truly is now about more than money for Hicks…no matter what the cost, he must be the victor, free to run around town slapping his cowboy hat on his thigh, shouting, "I won, I won, I won!"

  12. Dear All,
    For the last 24 hours I hve been editing Hicks’ entry on Wikpedia but it has been continually been deleted presumably by his PR organisation. I have now been bocked from further editing by Wik for "vandalism" again presumably as a result of complaints by Hicks.
    I enclose the text of my addition to his entry. Please will somebody else have a go at inserting this into his profile, after all its pretty mild !
    The fans of the club have reacted strongly to his joint ownership and have made their feelings felt in the media and by demonstrations at home matches. Liverpool FC is renowned for its discreet management style and the supporters are particularly incensed at his frequent off-the-cuff remarks and statements to the media which they feel has brought the club into disrepute. They also question his financing of the club which was purchased with borrowed money and been loaded with debt in the last year without work commencing on the new stadium. A recent poll of readers of Liverpool’s Daily Post resulted in 97% wanting him to sell the club to DIC who they feel has both the expertise and finances to take the club forward whilst maintaining its traditions.

  13. The Telegraph article was interesting in that it brought into the public domain the kinds of things that have been getting whispered about for some time. I started to write something yesterday but got distracted, in which I basically said that we have been treated like puppets these past few months.

    A lot of the stuff attributed to “the owners” has automatically been assumed to be Hicks, yet in many cases it’s been down to Gillett. Gillett being stretched to the limit financially and only agreeing to the loan to avoid defaulting on the last one, Gillett being the ringleader in attempts at ridding us of Rafa, Gillett making most of the “promises” (or what we took as promises) that couldn’t be delivered – all examples of mistakes by “the owners” that were more Gillett’s doing than Hicks, if various off-the-record claims are to be believed. And it’s not just the Hicks camp who have been suggesting that’s the case, so perhaps it’s more than just spin.

    Then we got the obvious and in my view tacky leak yesterday claiming Hicks had pulled out of talks because DIC wanted a fan to be put on the board and vote on major decisions. I actually felt offended by that suggestion, it sounds so far from the truth. It’s been leaked to make us think it’s from DIC, and before we know it we’ll all start referring to it as fact and a promise, but when we look back we’ll see it was no more than a “we understand” style claim in a newspaper report. DIC will deny all knowledge of ever having suggested it.

    Does anyone think we really are that thick, that a fan nominated by us, a real fan, would be given a position on the board? A voting one too? Not a chance. Not unless the DIC shareholder agreement was made up of voting rights on a ten votes per board member basis, with the fan only getting one effectively useless vote. It won’t happen. At best they’ve identified a candidate for their board who’s a Liverpool fan. Ian Ayre for example, commercial director, claimed Liverpool fan, but hardly “one of us” so to speak, no more than Rick Parry is.

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but we’ve been fed a mixture of lies, innuendo, hints and “promises” that aren’t written down anywhere official, all designed to exaggerate our feelings towards all involved. At one point Gillett was painted as the hero, and DIC were going to buy Hicks out and join with Gillett. When that didn’t work Gillett’s hero status was played down, more stuff got leaked about his part in the mess, and DIC were going to buy both of them out. When this didn’t work then we got more of a focus on how bad the whole mess was and how much of it was down to Hicks. At the same time we’re being promised the moon by DIC, but not by them directly.

    What hasn’t helped Hicks at all, and will keep coming back to haunt him, is that for whatever reason, he has lied to us or misled us, on all kinds of issues. He blamed the papers for making up the Rafa-to-be-sacked stories, before admitting it had in fact been planned. I won’t go over them all, but now it’s so easy for a claim to be made and for us all to assume Hicks is lying. How many of us read what’s said by any side now with an open mind? It’s easier to assume Hicks is still lying, and that DIC are our saviours who wouldn’t dare lie.

    Well let’s hear an explanation from DIC about this representative claim.

    And it’s not just DIC speaking to the press against Hicks of course. Somebody who was almost certainly involved in leaking a DIC document just before their last bid broke down is almost certainly leaking information now to help DIC. There’s one clown in particular we’ve got to be wary of now – is he acting for the club or himself?

    I’m really disappointed that this fan representation claim came out yesterday. And it’s now got me questioning how much of the previous leaks, claims and “we understand” stories are not now to be trusted. I didn’t think it was very classy to leak that letter, whoever did it, and the more I think about it the less I feel comfortable about having DIC on board.

    That’s not to defend Hicks for the lies of the past. Unless he’s willing to apologise for those lies, to explain where misunderstandings came from, what the reasons where and what has changed to tell us it won’t happen again, I don’t think he’ll get any forgiveness. Even then it isn’t guaranteed. We need to see signs of this new investment, and soon. We need to see some actual figures on where the money has gone the last 13 or 14 months, and where the money’s coming from in the next four or five years. If their claims are true, we needn’t worry as much as we thought about the future under Hicks at 100%. Seriously, the stuff being spoken of is very impressive. But those claims are still just claims and are answered by a whole load more claims from others telling us we have no choice but to worry.

    It remains a case of “Prove us wrong.”

    And as for DIC – well it’s time to stop leaking snippets to their friends in the press and time to start making some honest and official statements on their intentions. It’s easy to leak a claim of less debt – but when we look back in 14 months’ time will we be angry when we see that “less debt” was never confirmed or claimed officially? Remember 14 months ago when Parry claimed DIC had put a 12-hour time limit on accepting their offer, and DIC said there had been no ultimatums made at all? Who was lying? DIC, the people we are now expected to trust, or Parry, the person who is allegedly now helping DIC in their attempts to oust DIC?

    We are Liverpool fans and we do not like to be lied to. At all. By anyone.

    But everyone involved is allowing misleading claims to come our way.

    We all just need to take a breath, sit down and think about what we’ve been told. We’ve all fallen for the extremes of Tom Hicks being hated and DIC being loved. Chances are that if we do look and think more carefully we’ll still decide DIC are the better option, but maybe it won’t be so cut and dried.

    From here on in we don’t want to hear any more lies. Big or small. If those wishing to be our owners into the start of next season really do care about the club, they’ll understand that the fans are part of the club, and will stop treating us like low-intelligence children who can be fobbed off with promises of a bigger ice-cream from the next ice-cream man over and over again until we forget.

  14. Wouldn’t that be refreshing, Hicks and DIC explaining fully what they want and why.

    I wouldn’t hold my breath though.

    Why? Well Hicks, was on BBC radio – Sportsweek – a few weeks ago giving an account of his Liverpool Fc project. He restricted the questions that were allowed to be asked. Therefore it became a worthless interview. I doubt he’d allow open scrutiny of his ‘dealings/intentions’.

    DIC has never been outspoken/public to any extent that I’m aware. The fact that they – alongside Hicks – have hired powerful PR types suggests the media battle will persist.

    For me – I don’t trust either of them. But that is checkered by my old socialist side that forgets that investors need to make money!

    So in a world where money needs/must be made – my fall back position is transparency. Tell us what you want and tell us how you’re going to do it and don’t veer from that – unless the situation is of Global Credit Crunch proportions.

    On transparency, Hicks has failed. He’s lied and lied again. He now looks so dishonest, I’d rather believe George Bush when he talks about American successes in Iraq – and he’s got the lowest approval rating of any US President.

    As for DIC – accepting that there’s the fans bid growing in the background, they did not fully disclose in their original bid that they were looking to sell the club after 7 – i think – years. So can they be trusted anymore? I don’t know. But they now have an orpportunity to do a press conference/interview to set out their stall and explain:

    a) why they REALLY want the club?
    b) why, taking Anfielders and Julie’s points, they are prepared to get into bed with an apparent bully like Hicks?
    c) what is the footballing future they see for the club?

    Just being Liverpool FC fans is not enough.

    It’s time to ‘Show US your money and your intent’ and stop hiding behind smokescreen.

    And Mr. Gillett if you are out there reading this – come and talk to us, we won’t bite, we just what to know what your plans are for our Club and whether Foster will be heading back to visit Liverpool any time soon?

    Where do we go from him

  15. Jim,I can only speak for myself and my opposition to this Hicks regime owes less to being duped by innuendo, rumour and the rest than to the direct quotes attributed to and not denied by Hicks. I see no future for our club whilst it is in the hands of someone who regards the fans as "suckers" who will fill seats regardless of onfield success, who equates me to his breakfast cereal (Weetabix), who believes he can deliver greatness to the club via a finance proposal that envisages the club servicing the debt for 100% of – his initial purchase – construction of a new stadium – rebuilding the squad to a level equal to our main rivals. All this at zero cost to him!It is not a question of Hicks v DIC although that is the current game in play. It is more an issue of Hicks v a normal financing situation where the cost of acquisition is borne by the purchaser with dividends payable to them as the results allow! We improve the squad via normal revolving credit facility and we build the stadium by way of project finance. Such is the norm at all of Europes’ major clubs with the exception of LFC, Man U and the fan-owned clubs in Spain and Germany . The leveraged buyout model precludes us from developing along a sound enterprise path. It’s raison d’etre is buy low sell high and  when the gain is high enough we will be sold.

  16. As much as it disheartens me to say it, I will continue to side with DIC in this showdown because (gulp) they lie less than Hicks. I know…a really crappy reason. More and more, it feels like we are witnessing a major political election, with two candidates vying for our favour, both making promises and assurances they can’t or won’t keep, both conducting a smear campaign on the other’s credibility.

    Jim, thanks for the clear-sighted perspective on the whole "fan on the board" leak yesterday. I’ll admit that I initially fell for it, because it’s just so easy to hate Hicks. (By the way, I’ve searched for it, but does anyone have a link to the article where Hicks refers to Liverpool supporters as quaint and odd? I read it a few months back, but can’t pin it down now.) If it was a DIC contrivance, then maybe they are just as patronisingly manipulative as Hicks. Or…no, nevermind, I was about to get too caught up in conspiracy theories there.

    For what it’s worth, Gillett did a good job assimmilating into the cultural fortress of the Montreal Canadiens. This is part of what makes me cling to the belief that his silence (perhaps bought by Hicks and tied to financial considerations in the new loan agreements) is being manipulated by Hicks’s PR spin to make Gillett the only bad guy. Seriously, something significant has to be keeping him quiet, considering the damage currently being inflicted to his professional reputation.

    Like John, I’m almost ready to pledge my loyalty to anyone but Hicks for the reasons he gave above. I believe that there are true die-hard Reds fans in DIC – I don’t believe Hicks see our club and its fans as anything more than shiny tokens on his own personal Monopoly board.

  17. Jim, how can we trust Hicks after all the
    lies and comments he’s made officially either himself or together with Gillett..? He put lies after lies even to the liverpool official site, for exampe the klinsmann story, not talking to dic etc. All these comments made personally by hicks not gillett. I have been reading your great articles and these discussions here every day since janyary and basicly agreed with your views almost on every subject. I have to say im really surprised you seem to have changed your opinion about DIC.
    Hicks doesn’t deserve a second change, never, if somebody has to remind what hes done and said, they can just read your past articles and others comments to them. Theres also much rumours and false stories written about hicks but too much of those are still true. So why DIC want to buy us, why not bought Newcastle before Ashley or why not Arsenal, everton or any other team.
    I hope the reason could be they see something unique in liverpool, its history and brand to develop further. For Dubai the comercial and media benefits with liverpool in their portfolio would be great and or the Sheikh the reputation of Dubai and everything its represent is very important. I dont think they would risk it  by messing with the club and its fans.
    I cant write english very well and its very hard to put in to words what i try say, but im with DIC all the way.
    As long as they make official announcement that the deal is off, we still have hope.

  18. Julie. This was posted on the Liverpool Echo forum and reinforces the notion that we haven’t all ben side tracked by the spin from either the Hicks or DIC camps. "The 5 myths – don’t fall for them. I am a sad old retired red fanatic. As such I have time to follow my passion, LFC and everything to do with it. I regularly trawl the various forums and you get a feel for the waves of feeling on the boards before and after a match and also before and after major developments on the ownership saga. over the last sew days, since Hicks dramatically pulled the plug on his negotiations with DIC there have appeared on each of the main forums well reasoned and professionally put together posts putting the case for Hicks and his “love for LFC” no more “Liverpool Reds” so Tom didn’t write them himself!! These posts seek support for what I believe are myths and I have tried below to give my take on them. Please forgive any typos as this was written somewhat in anger at being lectured to about corporate debt, Leveraged buyouts Tom Hicks philanthropy etc as if all our supporters had the brains of the Sandon Spit merchants. Anyway here goes: 1 Liverpool fans want rid of Tom Hicks because of his personality or lack of it.  His nationality is irrelevant, his economy with the truth is a disappointment but also irrelevant as is, what some perceive as, his hectoring bully boy nature, Some might make a case that he is morally unfit to run an institution like LFC but personally I would be just as opposed to Pope Benedict or Mother Theresa if either of them came in with the lack of real resources demonstrated by Messrs. Hicks and Gillett.  2 All businesses borrow money so Hicks is only doing what all owners, including DIC would do. Not so. The leveraged buyout is very rare in top level football clubs. The normal buyout situation is for the buyers to rely on dividends, if justified by trading results, to reward them for their investment and/service the interest on any borrowing by them to acquire the club. This point is crucial as in that orthodox situation the dividend is the last call upon the profits whereas in our situation with Hicks interest is payable regardless of the trading result. In actual fact the owners of many leading clubs don’t take a dividend out but allow the club to reinvest to the maximum in players, facilities etc. This is because in that “normal” situation the owners are fans first, investors second. 3 Hicks gets a bad press George Gillett is the real villain. This has gained currency almost coterminously with Hicks opening negotiations with DIC. There may be no relevance in that coincidence but in the absence of any comment from George Gillett it must be viewed with suspicion. It is a further irrelevance. Whether Hicks or Gillett is the bigger villain does not subtract from the real danger they pose via they debt and high gearing position of the club. They are both leveraged to the maximum.   4 DIC won’t be any better It is tempting to dismiss his one simply by saying that DIC cannot be any worse. DIC are indivisible from the wealth of the ruler of Dubai therefore their mission is to invest that wealth prudently for the benefit of Dubai. To that extent they have an immediate advantage over Hicks. They don’t have the problem of raising the finance needed to develop our club. They won’t donate millions to LFC, no one sensibly expects that. They do offer a shelter from the ups and downs of the capital market so to that extent we would be insulated from the threat of a Leeds-type meltdown which, however remote, is present with the Hicks ownership model. We will not face the now you see it now you don’t farce of the stadium project. In fact DIC’s first attempt to buy LFC was not premised upon any debt but instead on equity. DIC will ensure the club is effectively administrated and managed with top professionals in key positions, Surely this better than Hicks’ version – management by email! The fans are not sheep. they will not be as unquestioning with DIC should they or anyone else gain control from Hicks. Once bitten twice shy.  5 Hicks bought us Torres, Babel, Yossi, Skyrtl and the Masch Arrant nonsense. Torres, Babel and Yossi were targeted and attracted to the club via the in-house scouting system and on the manager’s recommendation they were bought from in-house resources plus club borrowing. The truth of this is found in the fact that summer spending was wrapped up in the refinancing package as the club’s borrowing was presumably from another source.  Presumably Hicks would be a co-signatory for payments of this size so his involvement would be precisely that – signing the cheques. He had only been involved with the club 5 minutes and freely admitted he knew almost nothing about us before buying in so would have not known whether Fernando Torres was coming in to play or sell pies. The signings of Skyrtl and Masch were funded from sales (Momo) and the clubs normal trading from November (when Rafa brokered the deal) to February when we had resources enough to finalise it."

  19. Sorry folks. Something is wrong with the layout box all my spacing gets lost. Maybe it is my use of a Mac/Safari. I will have to stick to one liners!!!

  20. John, It’s reassuring to know there are still some clear-thinking fans out there who can machete their way through the maze. Thanks for posting that.

    Very interesting as well that Hicks cancelled his trip to Cannes to speak about investment in the city of Liverpool. Regarding of whether it is because he’s immersed in negotiations with DIC, perhaps this is a sign that he soon no longer will be an investor in anything Liverpudlian beyond some old Beatles lps.

  21. Perhaps this is the first crack in the cone of silence…
    Liverpool co-owner George Gillett has finally broken his silence on his strained relationship with Tom Hicks. Gillett has not made a public statement on the current takeover turmoil at the club since the controversial financial repackaging of the loans Hicks and Gillett took out to buy the club last year. Gillett’s son Foster – a board member – was withdrawn from the day-to-day operations at Anfield as Gillett prepared to sell his 50% stake to Dubai International Capital. Gillett, who also owns the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey club, was speaking at a sports conference in California when – answering a question on whether he would remain a co-owner of Liverpool – he said: "I would say, choose your partners wisely." That remark, in answer to a question from Abraham Madkour, editor of a sports business journal in the US, explained much about the differences between Hicks and Gillett. Gillett was appearing at the IMG world sports conference in California. He also said: "He (Tom Hicks) is a great guy – but he has just got a different perspective on the media." Hicks has this week been critical of DIC’s use of the media to support their plans to buy out Gillett. Dallas-based Hicks has criticised DIC’s tactics and terminated talks with the Dubai-based sports empire on Monday. This followed his complaints about leaked documents and comments from DIC that implied they would want management control despite only buying a 49% stake. He was also upset with what was considered triumphant comments that suggested DIC would soon buy his stake. For Gillett to suggest he did not choose his partner wisely when he bought the club from former chairman David Moores says much about the current situation. Gillett initially wanted to buy the club on his own, but brought in Hicks’ financial muscle when he could not do the deal himself.  

  22. Such a moumtain of verbosity ! The long and the short of the matter is that Hicks cannot maintain his position in the club in the club in the long term without further finance. The recent refinancing which runs out in 17 months was possible only because the banks insisted on the director’s agreement which cannot be guaranteed indefinately. Hicks and Gillett cannot run the club without local expertise, the fans who pay the rent are totally alienated and DIC are the only other guys in town. Gillett wants out, Hicks has no choice but eventually to do a deal with DIC which he will do despite all his blustering. At the end of the day it will be the fans who got rid him.

  23. Thanks for all the replies, some helpful stuff there, helpful because it reminds me -and all of us – of some of the reasons we’ve been so concerned.

    At times Hicks sounds like someone speaking to an audience the way that audience expects, without realising that his comments will be heard elsewhere. Maybe 30 years ago you could talk at a meeting of bankers and have a laugh at the expense of your latest Weetabix, and it would go no further. Not any more. Whether you’re exaggerating something to impress that audience or telling the truth to impress that audience, if your words are going to upset someone they’ll get out.

    Then you’ve got some explaining to do.

    Hicks has a hell of a lot of explaining to do, and unless he’s willing to do so in a way he’s never done before I can’t see him ever winning back the fans. It would be a massive change in attitude. In fact maybe his only way through this is to call it a day and put his sons in charge. That assumes their new plans are as good as claimed, because otherwise there would be no point even trying.

    Some "lies" from DIC and Hicks I can accept up to a point, we’re a business now before a club and it seems inevitable. But that doesn’t include "promises" that aren’t going to be kept. If Hicks is making promises he can’t keep now after everything we’ve been through then he’d better brace himself, seriously, because these protests have been mild compared to what he could be facing. But are DIC bracing themselves too?

    It is very much like an election, as was said above. I’ve been thinking this for a while too. Let’s have some manifestos, some truth.

    But as often happens in elections we end up going with the lesser of two or three evils.

    We don’t even get a vote in this election, but we do have a say to some extent.

    If DIC did propose a place on the board for a fan’s representative, then there is no reason whatsoever now that they can’t release an official statement confirming it and explaining how they had intended it to work.

    Put the PR agency on hold for a few weeks and talk to us yourselves.   If DIC do fully intend to take 100%, as they claimed last week when they weren’t hiding behind a PR company for a change, they need to start talking more directly to us. And they don’t want to be making promises now unless they know they can keep them.

  24. Hicks is the problem. As Jofrad said he doesn’t want to lose face and wants to be the ‘Big Man’.

    Hick is not only a problem for us, the fans.

    But Hicks will also be the problem for his PR agency, Financial Dynamics.

    Why? Well they will not be clear whether he is selling up or not and/or on what terms. They’ll be getting mixed messages and conveying mixed messages in the UK press. Meanwhile, in the US, Hicks is then spouting off, without their knowldge, and then his words are all over the world.

    However I don’t feel sorry for them. They are being EXTREMELY well paid for the job. And, they’re on the wrong side of the argument.

    Jim’s article hits the notes on what needs to happen next – we need clarity/honesty on all sides intentions. This should exclude the PRs and have total no-holds barred interviews from the money men – Hicks and DIC. Failing that, Moores and/or Parry would do for starters!

  25. Just read an article on redandwhite kop about Hicks Junior being pissed in the boardroom and throwing up and one of his mates having to have medical attention.  What a load of rubbish that is, my dad was in there on the day of the game as somebodys guest and he said that is rubbish.

    If we are going to get rid of the Hicks lot or not, spreading rubbish like this is just feeding them with ammunition to show that people are writing rubbish. Apparenly according to the article it was David Moores who complained. Given that he is the former owner still acting like he runs the club, sounds to me like he is the one who got his nose out of joint because it is no longer his place to run.

    The article goes on to say that the marketing director Ayre was in Milan and was slagging off Moores and Parry to somebody in a bar…. not sure if thats true, although who could blame him !!! The article slaughters Ayre for these comments but dont we all agree that those two are as bad as the Yanks.

    We need to concentrate on writing articles like Jims that have true factual and meaningful information rather than sensationalising half truths…. we have the Daily Manc and the Echo to do that !

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