How long left? Ownership battle drags on.

The battle for control of Liverpool Football Club seems to be gathering more momentum in the media than it is in reality, with no real sign yet of any change in position from any of those involved. To summarise, Hicks says he won’t sell and wants to buy; Gillett says he wants to sell but not to Hicks; Dubai say they are going to buy the club soon.

Last week saw Rafa speak of a positive meeting with Tom Hicks over transfers, and although the Spaniard did point out that co-owner George Gillett and CEO Rick Parry were aware of what was said, he made it clear they didn’t attend the talks. Further hints from Rafa suggested the transfer budget would be minimal, but despite that he spoke of being happy he could get the targets he wanted. Time will tell if he’s happy it can make a difference to a league challenge, or just happy that when the names are revealed, nobody will expect a league challenge.

Any chance of increasing that budget depends on the resolution of the ownership situation. Only a takeover leaving one party with a controlling interest would see the transfer budget boosted.

No change.
This is where the club still finds itself – in a position of no change. Although some aspects of the club’s operations can continue during this stand-off, it’s still not able to operate as it could under the control of one entity.

Tom Hicks insists he can find a way of taking control, either by raising the finance to buy George Gillett out himself, or more likely by getting investment to allow him to become majority shareholder with another – or more than one other – investor or investment company. He refuses to sanction any 50:50 ownership deal, and claims he can block any attempt by Gillett to sell his half to anyone else. It is believed that with Gillett still not having formally accepted an offer from Dubai, nothing has yet been tested anyway.

George Gillett has given various reasons for his stated refusal to sell to Hicks. He admitted himself in a Canadian radio interview that he had been previously willing to sell to Hicks, but this was no longer the case. He mentioned having given Hicks time to come up with the goods to buy him out, but having run out of time. He mentioned death threats warning him not to sell any part of his share to Hicks, or else face the consequences. He claimed having almost 2000 emails a day from supporters who didn’t want him to sell to Hicks. Most recently he said he wouldn’t sell to his partner, and that “we need to find a way forward that is properly funded and truly in the best interests of Liverpool Football Club.”

In broad terms DIC haven’t changed their stance either, which is basically that they won’t pay any more than the price they’ve offered, and that they feel sooner or later Gillett and Hicks will have to concede defeat. Very little of what is attributed as coming from DIC is ever from direct quotes, and some contradictions are heard from time to time. Whether this is down to a misunderstanding on the part of those being spoken to, or a case of DIC’s people telling each different person whatever it is they want to hear isn’t too clear. But with no direct quotes it’s unlikely they will ever explain it anyway.

One piece of information that has recently started to filter out of the Dubai camp sounded very much like a piece of information said purely to placate those listening to it.

DIC the investment company.
Even back when DIC were losing their first attempt to buy the club it was often pointed out that DIC are an investment company looking to make a profit. The fact that they were under the wing of the wealthy Dubai Government and that their CEO was a Liverpool fan was nice to hear, but not nice enough to accept them with open arms and no worries. Their website changed its description of their dealings to hide the phrase so often used to attack Tom Hicks, “leveraged buy-outs”, but still showed they’d bought Tussauds for £800m and sold 80% of it two years later for £1bn, a quick-and-easy £200m profit without actually selling their whole stake. They admitted themselves on their own website that it was a leveraged deal, the kind of deal Hicks and Gillett struck to buy LFC.

DIC has only existed as an entity since 2004, so its good track record in terms of making money is only based on a relatively short period of time. The infamous leaked “Project Oslo” document was alleged to have shown a DIC plan to sell up after seven years at Anfield, and it’s worth noting that they’ve not yet had seven years ownership of any of their investments so far.

There are then still unanswered questions, despite many theories, as to why they were prepared to let the club slip out of their hands in 2007 for around half what they will have to pay now. Also worries from some that their reliance on this perception that Tom Hicks is in a precarious financial position sees them fail to make an offer that Hicks would even consider changing his stance for. But with DIC being an investment company, there is a ceiling at which they would feel the investment is either too risky or just not profitable enough, so they wouldn’t raise their price much higher anyway.

The focus has been on how bad Tom Hicks is, but few have stopped to look at DIC’s potential pitfalls. That said, there are more voices starting to raise concerns, more people starting to ask questions.

It has to be remembered that finding fault with DIC, or to be more accurate potential faults, doesn’t make Tom Hicks any better or worse. If a Tom Hicks fault is also one that it turns out DIC have, then it doesn’t mean it’s suddenly not a fault. It’s just a fault both candidates have, and we should be more interested in what they might do to rectify it.

Managers.
One such fault is the approach to the hiring and firing of managers.

One day we’ll read an autobiography or two and find out exactly what went on in the lead-up to Jurgen Klinsmann being asked if he fancied Rafa’s job. It doesn’t matter how you interpret the events or how you apportion the blame, what matters is that any of those involved who do remain at the club know their own part in what happened, and they should recognise where they were at fault. If they remain at the club in the long term they need to ensure they don’t allow such a situation to develop again.

Over the weekend, timed impeccably just days ahead of a clash with Jose Mourinho’s former club Chelsea, came a story that Mourinho had been lined up by DIC to take over the manager’s job if DIC got control. A carefully-worded denial was swiftly issued, with “sources at DIC” denying that they had ever “offered the job to Mourinho, or met him to discuss it”.

Although the timing raises obvious suspicions that it’s an attempt to unsettle Rafa and his boys for Wednesday night, it isn’t the first time such claims have been heard. It remains about as strong a rumour as the Klinsmann approach was before German officials spoke about it and Tom Hicks admitted it; the rumour was little more than gossip until then. DIC obviously can’t offer Mourinho a job that isn’t theirs to offer, but could well have indicated at one stage that he was in line for it should they win their battle. And they can do this without meeting him – by phone or through his agent.  The denial doesn’t cover that kind of approach, and with DIC still remaining pretty much unwilling to speak in public their intentions remain clouded in mystery.

And although a majority of fans are still supportive of DIC, this mystery is starting to have a negative impact on a small but growing number of supporters. It’s not a case of sharing points out between Hicks and DIC, taking a point from DIC doesn’t necessarily boost the points total of Tom Hicks. Added to the mystery is the clear evidence that DIC is still an investment company, still looking to make a profit, still not trying to buy the club just to make people happy. It does start to reduce the gap for some supporters, or more accurately, it moves DIC closer to the point where their presence becomes a serious worry.  But they started from such a strong position that there is quite some way to go yet before worries are strong enough to protest against them.

Still, it does now seem to have been recognised by the powers-that-be at DIC that some fans are worried about how this deal would work.

First of all, let’s make it clear: DIC have been the entity looking to buy Liverpool FC since this latest saga began. It’s never been about the Sheikh of Dubai buying the club to put alongside his horseracing hobby. After all, much has been made of how Sameer Al-Ansari is a big Liverpool fan and how his presence would ensure Liverpool weren’t messed about again. Sameer is the CEO of DIC. All along these talks have been between DIC and the current owners. Amanda Staveley of PCP Capital Partners has been negotiating on behalf of DIC. The leaked email from Tom Hicks that appeared in the Telegraph last month was to Al-Ansari, in his role as DIC CEO, to his office at DIC’s HQ. And that’s where the meeting was held, between Hicks representatives and DIC representatives. It could of course just be a coincidence, but a Liverpool-supporting DIC executive was sacked just after that failed meeting. Al-Ansari has been rarely quoted on this issue, but he has been quoted.

DIC not to buy LFC?
But now it’s changed. The FT has reported what has been getting rumoured quietly for the last week or two. DIC aren’t buying LFC. It’s the Sheikh himself, or at least it’s coming out of his own money!

The report says that “Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, is playing an active role in negotiations over Liverpool Football Club.” It adds that this could see LFC “wholly owned and guaranteed … by a sovereign state.”

The FT says that although DIC have been the company the talks have “been channelled through”, their information is that this is no longer the case. As ever, there are no names mentioned in terms of the source of the information, but “people close to the situation say… Sheikh Mohammed has taken a close personal interest.  He receives personal regular updates on developments by PCP Capital Partners”.

PCP are of course the partnership whose representative Amanda Staveley has been involved in talks on behalf of DIC with the club’s current owners. She met representatives of SoS last week, before attending the Chelsea game with Al-Ansari.

The FT report also speculates that “the club’s future may become clearer tomorrow night if the team fails to win the second leg of its Champions League semi-final at Chelsea.” This may of course be true, but based on last year’s figures a place in the final was worth an extra £3.2m, which is hardly the kind of money to be a deal-changer in a transaction worth anything from £400m to £500m. Even winning the competition would bring £5.5m, again not a significant figure in a deal of this size. That said, an article in the Express today speculates on why the end of Liverpool’s CL run could be significant.

The FT also make a claim about the Sheikh’s own support of LFC. The “boyhood Red” claims of a few months back are now changed to “Sheikh Mohammed is a Liverpool supporter dating back to the early 1980s.” The boyhood Red claim always seemed a touch unrealistic, given that he was 15 by the time Shanks won his first Division 1 title with the club in 1964. Shortly after this he did spend some time studying in the UK, but even this 1980s claim has been played down privately by “those close to the deal”.

Sheikh's other son in Man U shirtBut at least his son is a fan, says the FT article: “Hamdan bin Mohammed, his 25-year-old son, who in February was named crown prince, is a fanatical supporter.” There’s no easily-found evidence of Hamdan being a supporter of any team in particular, but his older brother is happier to show his colours. Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum was pictured in a Manchester United shirt last month.

With 17 children it must be tough for their father to keep them all happy, so Rashid is less likely to get his dad to buy him a football team!

The FT goes on to say that LFC would now not be owned by DIC after all, and tying in with other information coming from the PCP camp it would be owned by “a vehicle of the Dubai government – partly via PCP”.

This of course, if true, does make some of the fears about Dubai ownership a little less pressing. There’s hardly been any doubt that the state of Dubai’s finances are in good condition, or that DIC wouldn’t have the amount of money to put in from their plans. The worry was their plans, as an investment company, would not have “fans with smiling faces and a full trophy room” even on the first page, let alone as a main priority.  More needs to be explained by Dubai, or PCP, and not from behind the safety of anonymity, but for the first time, since even before the first DIC bid, there is a possibility of investment being made in the club without profit as the top priority.

Questions still need to be raised as to why this has only just become the case. Why were DIC the original interested party, and why has it only now been taken out of their hands? There are endless possible reasons for why, including the fact that by owning up to the funding coming in effect from the Sheik’s own wallet that the two current owners would be able to try and hold out for more.  Instead of being fobbed of by a DIC business plan showing a return over seven years leading to an exit from the club, the owners would see that LFC were being bought without such restrictions in mind.

Step up the attack?
Some people are already asking why, if the Sheikh is personally involved and determined to become the owner of LFC for reasons other than profit, he’s not dipped a little deeper into his personal fortune with his bid. The most-commonly quoted figure of £400m suggests a profit of £25m each for Hicks and Gillett, which does not compare favourably with the amount of money to be made each year by LFC on fulfilling its potential commercially. Rather than let the club be dragged through a mess that all parties have helped ensure was played out embarrassingly and in public, a higher bid might just have tests Hicks’ resolve not to sell.

DIC, or Dubai, have believed for some time that Tom Hicks is about to run out of time in terms of not only getting the money to buy the rest of LFC, but also to keep his other sports interests afloat. Their strategy has certainly been based in part on that assumption.

Today’s Express carries a story that has been heard before. No, not a Diana story.  Harry Harris: Bankers tell Hicks to sell talks of how US firm JP Morgan has “told Tom Hicks ‘time is up’ on his huge loans and are calling on the Texan to sell his 50 per cent stake in Liverpool.”

Another Hicks-on-the-brink story.
Harris writes that Morgans are “getting jittery at Hicks’ failure to raise the required capital to buy out co-owner George Gillett, who has agreed to sell his share of the club to Dubai International Capital.”

The story that his US loans are due to be called in has been doing the rounds for some time, although it’s not getting much coverage in the US for some reason. Harris it seems has also been speaking to Dubai’s people, saying “Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (is) taking a personal interest in the end game of their proposed Anfield takeover.”

He also says he believes Hicks’ visits to Melwood and Anfield last week were “a facade – that Hicks is playing hardball, merely trying to hang on for a bigger offer before selling out.”

Again using figures that were bandied about a few weeks back, around the time of the Arsenal away leg in the Champions League, he writes: “He values the Hicks Sports Group… at £1billion, with the Premier League club making up 75 per cent of that figure.” And before anyone points out that he didn’t use JP Morgan to get his half of that £350m finance package in January, Harris says: “it is JP Morgan who bankroll the group.”

The reason for their worry, according to Harris, is “they see a buyer and worry it may fall through”.

And he says he’s getting the information from a “well-connected City source” who tells him that “Hicks is being so heavily squeezed by JP Morgan he may be forced to sell sooner rather than later.”

Then comes the explanation of why tomorrow night’s result matters: “They are sensitive to Liverpool’s bid to reach the Champions League final and will not pull the plug on Hicks’ loans until that campaign ends – tomorrow or after the final in Moscow on May 21.”

Hicks may well have issues with his US finances, it’s been rumoured often enough, but that last statement is difficult to believe. As was mentioned above, winning tomorrow night would only guarantee LFC an extra £3.2m, possibly £5.5m if they went on to win outright in Moscow. At most Tom Hicks gets an extra £2.75m if the Reds go all the way, or £1.6m if they are runners up.

Those Harris figures seem odd too. According to what he’s written, Tom Hicks’ half of LFC is worth 75% of £1bn. This of course would be £750m just for 50% of LFC, making the club worth a total of £1.5bn. Where does this figure come from? And why would a possible £1.6m make a significant difference?

It would be good if a source in the US financial arena could comment, but Harris says his man from the city had this explanation: “Hicks’ bankers are getting very nervous about his ability to finance his debt. They can see a buyer for his Liverpool shares, and as there is only one out there, they are worried it might fall through. They cannot allow that to happen. He owes the banks, and they want him to sell up. Hicks has had his chances to raise money, but in the current markets he has been unable to do that.”

If Hicks has agreements in place for finance, and is keeping to the agreements, for example making any regular payments, then it’s difficult to see how the banks would interfere. There might be a credit crunch going on, but the last thing they need to do is turn away somebody who is actually paying them money to help keep them afloat.

The “well placed source” admitted that he had been told Hicks’ existing finance had two years to run: “Hicks’ camp continue to suggest he doesn’t need to refinance until 2010, but that doesn’t add up with Hicks trying as hard as he has been for some time now to find other partners.” Yet it does add up with Hicks trying to get control of Liverpool FC, with the help of third parties.

The club currently has £60m sitting in wait to start work on the new stadium. This is part of the £105m finance that was put onto the club’s books in January. It’s widely believed that LFC would have no problems raising the remainder of the finance for the stadium, as and when required during the life of the construction project. Not according to the “well-placed source”, who claims: “If Hicks can hold out until 2010, then he hasn’t got the personal resources to either add anything to the transfer budget or raise more loans to build the stadium. That again applies even greater pressure to his personal financial situation.”

Another missed deadline.
Harris is hardly the most favourite of journalists for Liverpool fans, but there’s a danger that many fans will believe what he says on this story – because they just want it to be true. There’s no harm in wanting it to be true, to wish for an end to the mess, but it’s dangerous to take such stories at face value.  Harris wrote in February that “Liverpool will be Arab-owned within a month” before going on to explain how he had written the story after he had “seen confidential financial analysis of Liverpool’s predicament, commissioned by DIC”. And that would be impartial analysis too no doubt.

Cynics will dismiss it, but back in the US Hicks has seen a link between winning things and selling tickets. Past quotes from Hicks have suggested he felt winning wasn’t important, fans would turn up no matter what, but the latest quotes suggest he realised this isn’t the case. His Dallas Stars hockey team are progressing well in the Stanley Cup playoffs, which is the big prize for those in the NHL. They currently lead 2-0 in a best of seven matches “Conference Semi Final”, and if they can win two of those next five games would be into the “Conference Finals”. That itself can lead to the “Stanley Cup Finals”. There’s still some way to go, but Hicks says the success so far is attracting supporters to commit themselves: “We’re getting our season-ticket base back, and that’s what it is all about. Dallas is a city that loves winners. Whether it’s the Stars or the Mavs or the Cowboys – and hopefully someday it’s going to be the Rangers again – there’s a lot more interest when they feel like you’re going to win.”

But who’s going to win the battle for control of Anfield? Are those in the running actually trying hard enough? Is Hicks trying hard but still having a run like Dirk Kuyt’s hard-working low-scoring mid-season spell? Are DIC just sitting back complacently thinking the game’s already won, risking an unexpected own goal just as it looked to be over?

It’s like listening to the last part of a match on the radio, with no clear idea of how long there is left to go in the match, trusting others to describe what’s happening and nobody telling you the score “if you’ve just got in”. Listening and listening for a clue to what the score might be, to how long is left, hoping the commentators going to use words like “Liverpool trying to extend their lead” rather than “Liverpool nearly getting themselves an undeserved point”.

Dubai have now brought their sub on, or their secret weapon, the player with a reputation in other games that says he’s got the potential of having what it takes to put this one beyond doubt. But potential on its own isn’t enough, neither is reputation, and if this Dubai star can’t put the ball in the net soon then the less-fancied guy for the other side might just sneak a winner. And if that less-fancied guy thinks he’s capable of sneaking a winner, he needs to start shouting for the ball.

143 thoughts on “How long left? Ownership battle drags on.”

  1. midlands-red – Why don’t you come up to Liverpool and watch the game, the midlands are only about 1 hour from Liverpool. You could go to either Carras bar or Aldo’s bar they will be heaving. It will be second best to actualy going the game but alot better than staying at home.

  2. Schvilic – my response to you.

    1) The man went cap in hand around the city a couple of weeks ago and came back with nothing,
    HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT? HOW DO YOU KNOW WHETHER HE WAS SUCCESSFUL OR NOT ETC?
    His letter to the banks looking for investment was leaked to the press. Numerous people in the City have stated he went away empty handed.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/columnists/columnists.html?in_article_id=557351&in_page_id=1951&in_author_id=345

    A leaked email attempting to drum up business in London shows how desperate Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has become in his attempts to find new financial backers.
    The Hicks team, who originally demanded 16 seats for the Champions League game against Arsenal, have been on a road show in the City this week at the worst possible time in the credit crunch climate after failing to attract any interest in the United States.

    The email from Hicks’s people to potential London investors, which has more than a hint of desperation about it, offers three ways to participate with the Hicks Sports Group in Liverpool and promotes Hicks as ‘the master of purchasing and growing professional sports teams’.
    The options are buying a share of the Hicks Sports Group, whose half-share of Liverpool amounts to 75 per cent of the value of the group; purchasing warring co-owner George Gillett’s stake for £100million or joining a Hicks refinancing scheme that promises investors a 16 per cent profit over two years.
    It also trumpets Hicks as a ‘master’ at selling luxury boxes and clubs seats, and his intention to concentrate on the Chinese market with its ‘hundreds of thousands of Liverpool football fanatics’

    2) He needs numerous investors to help purchase 1/2 a club – which he has been running around the US looking for.
    HICKS HAS ALREADY PUBLICALLY STATED THAT HE WOULD BE WILLING TO PARTNER WITH ANOTHER INVESTOR TO BUY OUT GG SO LONG AS THAT PERSON WOULD BE WILLING TO BE A MINORITY INVESTOR (IE 49%) – HE ONLY SAID THAT HE IS NOT WILLING TO “RULE BY COMMITTEE” LIKE THEY HAVE CURRENTLY… YOU CANNOT HAVE TWO EQUAL PARTNERS IN ANY DEAL. SOMETHING HAS TO OVERRULE SO THE PARTNERSHIP CAN ACT.

    You cannot have two equal partners? That’s exactly the situation Hicks was very happy to enter into 15 months ago.

    Quote from Hicks – “I know there are people, institutions and individual investors who would like to be a minority investor with me and Liverpool”.

    3) He doesn’t have the finances to start a stadium.
    AS I MENTIONED ABOVE, HE HAS $120MM FOR THE STADIUM IN ESCROW – STADIUMS ARE FINANCED LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME! YOU SELL NAMING RIGHTS / SPONSORSHIPS / USE LEVERAGE AND FUND WHAT YOU HAVE TO IN EQUITY. IT IS JUST HOW STADIUMS GET BUILT. DIC WOULD DO IT THE SAME WAY. ALSO, HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY GG AND HICKS HAVE SPENT WORKING WITH ARCHETECTS FOR THE NEW STADIUM SO LFC WOULDN’T PLAY IN THE “PARRYBOWL?”

    The money to pay for architects came out of the clubs pockets not Hicks and Gillett.

    The Parry bowl was scrapped years ago. There was always going to be a redesign. I actually really like the proposed designs. The first stadium was class but the downgraded stadium is still top notch. However, I don’t see any financing being put in place to build it and all we have are pictures. I judge on actions not words.

    4) He didn’t have the money to buy the club at the start?
    OK THAT MAKES SENSE – HOW DID HE BUY IT THEN? MAGIC? THE GUY OWNS TWO OTHER SPORTS FRANCHISES AND HAS FOR A DECADE… HE ALSO HAS HAD A PRETTY SUCCESSFUL LIFE AS AN INVESTOR. THIS JUST MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. HOW DO YOU THINK HICKS AND GG BOUGHT THE TEAM IF THEY DIDN’T HAVE THE MONEY? THAT JUST DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE.

    I don’t have the money to buy a house. But if I go to a bank they buy the house for me and provide me with a mortgage. If I stop paying the bank they take their house back. It’s quite simple. The same applies to Hicks and Gillett.

    5) He hasn’t provided the money to back Rafa.
    WHAT DO YOU CALL LAST SUMMER? HOW CAN YOU DENY THAT HICKS AND GG DIDN’T SUPPORT RAFA LAST SUMMER? THEY SPENT MORE THAN MOORES EVER DID! I THINK THEY SPENT MORE THAN $100MM IN ONE SUMMER! SINCE THEN THEY HAVE SIGNED MASCHERANO AND SKRTL – THAT IS A LOT OF $$$ TO INVEST!

    Addressed in earlier post– I’ll ask you to back up the more than $100m claim.

    They spent £2million more than Moores ever did with loaned money despite a record of £54 million in prize money alone coming into the club.

    6) He refuses to answer questions about finance.
    WHEN DID HE GET ASKED ABOUT HIS FINANCIAL SITUATION? DIRECTLY? ALSO, MOST PEOPLE DON’T LIKE TO DISCLOSE THEIR FINANCIALS. HICKS HAS MAINTAINED THAT HE HAS THE FINANCIAL CAPACITY FOR LIVERPOOL SO I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU ARE GETTING THIS.

    Addressed in earlier post.

    Jim I will happily change my opinion of Hicks when he starts doing right for this club. But I have yet to see it.

    By right I mean – running the club with dignity, treating the fans with respect, treating employees of the club with respect, increasing our advertising and commercial revenues, removing the burden of purchase debt from the club (stadium debt is fine), not using Rafa in a PR battle, addressing the fans concerns directly not via Sky TV, replacing actions with words, building a new stadium, providing stability to the club etc, etc. Respect begets respect. These are things this club deserves and anyone who says otherwise doesn’t have the club at heart.

    I agree with Midlands Red lets concentrate on the football. 2-1 tonight – Torres and Babel

    YNWA

  3. @ Jim 9:54

    1) I believe what he’s referring to is the promise that money wouldn’t be taken out of the club to service the full debt (including acquisition debt). Do you agree that they’ve lied to us about this?

    http://liverpoolfansagainsthicks.wordpress.com/2008/04/25/debt-lies/

    2) http://liverpoolfansagainsthicks.wordpress.com/2008/04/18/corinthians/

    3) We haven’t got round to that yet! I imagine you judge it based on the teams’ performance.

    4) What about the ridiculously unfavourable rate of interest the club must be paying? Do you not agree that Dubai could generate the same level of capital for a much lower rate of interest? And that’s assuming that they even borrow at all.

    5) How do you know that they’ve set aside £60m? Assuming it’s not explicitly stated in the loan agreement, all we have is their word on this.

    They don’t even have to make public the club’s accounts. We’ve no idea how the £350m has been spent and what monies they’ve taken out of the club.

    6) I’m not sure I’d trust the people you trust. As you say yourself, it would have been made public if theory 1 were the case.

    7) This is a moot point really as it’s still too early to say. There haven’t been any signs of a significant improvement so far though.

    8) This is Hicks’ only realistic possibility in my opinion. We certainly shouldn’t be counting our chickens and SOS, etc need to keep the pressure on over the next few weeks to deter any such potential investors.

    9) Has he brought in any extra sponsors? Given the way he criticised Parry, I assume he must have done.

    10) Given the various increases in revenue over the past year (TV, Champions Lge, etc), you might have expected more than the £20m or so we got last summer. Remember that it was Hicks who told Rafa to “quit talking and concentrate on the players you have” (paraphrasing here).

    It’s telling that you mention Gillett and Parry here but make no mention of the man who had a public spat with Rafa over this issue.

    11) We don’t know how Rafa really views Hicks (though he did display a great degree of contempt towards him in that press conference last November). And why only offer him a 12-month extension?

    I think most people can see why Hicks has suddenly changed his approach towards Rafa.

    12) How do you feel about Hicks shooting his mouth off during the week of the Hillsborough anniversary? Do you not think it showed a lack of respect?

    Like others here, I’ve been a bit surprised by your sudden change in stance in recent weeks. What exactly has happened to bring this about? Have you been incentivised in some way?

    Anyway, we’ve got a game on this evening so looking forward to an article on that. Would appreciate answers to my questions though.

  4. Schvilic – my response to you.

    1) The man went cap in hand around the city a couple of weeks ago and came back with nothing,
    HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT? HOW DO YOU KNOW WHETHER HE WAS SUCCESSFUL OR NOT ETC?
    His letter to the banks looking for investment was leaked to the press. Numerous people in the City have stated he went away empty handed.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/columnists/columnists.html?in_article_id=557351&in_page_id=1951&in_author_id=345

    A leaked email attempting to drum up business in London shows how desperate Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has become in his attempts to find new financial backers.
    The Hicks team, who originally demanded 16 seats for the Champions League game against Arsenal, have been on a road show in the City this week at the worst possible time in the credit crunch climate after failing to attract any interest in the United States.

    The email from Hicks’s people to potential London investors, which has more than a hint of desperation about it, offers three ways to participate with the Hicks Sports Group in Liverpool and promotes Hicks as ‘the master of purchasing and growing professional sports teams’.
    The options are buying a share of the Hicks Sports Group, whose half-share of Liverpool amounts to 75 per cent of the value of the group; purchasing warring co-owner George Gillett’s stake for £100million or joining a Hicks refinancing scheme that promises investors a 16 per cent profit over two years.
    It also trumpets Hicks as a ‘master’ at selling luxury boxes and clubs seats, and his intention to concentrate on the Chinese market with its ‘hundreds of thousands of Liverpool football fanatics’

    2) He needs numerous investors to help purchase 1/2 a club – which he has been running around the US looking for.
    HICKS HAS ALREADY PUBLICALLY STATED THAT HE WOULD BE WILLING TO PARTNER WITH ANOTHER INVESTOR TO BUY OUT GG SO LONG AS THAT PERSON WOULD BE WILLING TO BE A MINORITY INVESTOR (IE 49%) – HE ONLY SAID THAT HE IS NOT WILLING TO “RULE BY COMMITTEE” LIKE THEY HAVE CURRENTLY… YOU CANNOT HAVE TWO EQUAL PARTNERS IN ANY DEAL. SOMETHING HAS TO OVERRULE SO THE PARTNERSHIP CAN ACT.

    You cannot have two equal partners? That’s exactly the situation Hicks was very happy to enter into 15 months ago.

    Quote from Hicks – “I know there are people, institutions and individual investors who would like to be a minority investor with me and Liverpool”.

    3) He doesn’t have the finances to start a stadium.
    AS I MENTIONED ABOVE, HE HAS $120MM FOR THE STADIUM IN ESCROW – STADIUMS ARE FINANCED LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME! YOU SELL NAMING RIGHTS / SPONSORSHIPS / USE LEVERAGE AND FUND WHAT YOU HAVE TO IN EQUITY. IT IS JUST HOW STADIUMS GET BUILT. DIC WOULD DO IT THE SAME WAY. ALSO, HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY GG AND HICKS HAVE SPENT WORKING WITH ARCHETECTS FOR THE NEW STADIUM SO LFC WOULDN’T PLAY IN THE “PARRYBOWL?”

    The money to pay for architects came out of the clubs pockets not Hicks and Gillett.

    The Parry bowl was scrapped years ago. There was always going to be a redesign. I actually really like the proposed designs. The first stadium was class but the downgraded stadium is still top notch. However, I don’t see any financing being put in place to build it and all we have are pictures. I judge on actions not words.

    4) He didn’t have the money to buy the club at the start?
    OK THAT MAKES SENSE – HOW DID HE BUY IT THEN? MAGIC? THE GUY OWNS TWO OTHER SPORTS FRANCHISES AND HAS FOR A DECADE… HE ALSO HAS HAD A PRETTY SUCCESSFUL LIFE AS AN INVESTOR. THIS JUST MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. HOW DO YOU THINK HICKS AND GG BOUGHT THE TEAM IF THEY DIDN’T HAVE THE MONEY? THAT JUST DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE.

    I don’t have the money to buy a house. But if I go to a bank they buy the house for me and provide me with a mortgage. If I stop paying the bank they take their house back. It’s quite simple. The same applies to Hicks and Gillett.

    5) He hasn’t provided the money to back Rafa.
    WHAT DO YOU CALL LAST SUMMER? HOW CAN YOU DENY THAT HICKS AND GG DIDN’T SUPPORT RAFA LAST SUMMER? THEY SPENT MORE THAN MOORES EVER DID! I THINK THEY SPENT MORE THAN $100MM IN ONE SUMMER! SINCE THEN THEY HAVE SIGNED MASCHERANO AND SKRTL – THAT IS A LOT OF $$$ TO INVEST!

    Addressed in earlier post– I’ll ask you to back up the more than $100m claim.

    They spent £2million more than Moores ever did with loaned money despite a record of £54 million in prize money alone coming into the club.

    6) He refuses to answer questions about finance.
    WHEN DID HE GET ASKED ABOUT HIS FINANCIAL SITUATION? DIRECTLY? ALSO, MOST PEOPLE DON’T LIKE TO DISCLOSE THEIR FINANCIALS. HICKS HAS MAINTAINED THAT HE HAS THE FINANCIAL CAPACITY FOR LIVERPOOL SO I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU ARE GETTING THIS.

    Addressed in earlier post.

    Jim I will happily change my opinion of Hicks when he starts doing right for this club. But I have yet to see it.

    By right I mean – running the club with dignity, treating the fans with respect, treating employees of the club with respect, increasing our advertising and commercial revenues, removing the burden of purchase debt from the club (stadium debt is fine), not using Rafa in a PR battle, addressing the fans concerns directly not via Sky TV, replacing actions with words, building a new stadium, providing stability to the club etc, etc. Respect begets respect. These are things this club deserves and anyone who says otherwise doesn’t have the club at heart.

    I agree with Midlands Red lets concentrate on the football. 2-1 tonight – Torres and Babel

    YNWA

  5. Jim, i have no vested interest or desire to take sides on the ownership battle. My interest has been stimulated by what is proving to be a very interesting acquisitions case study. The acquisition by Hicks and Gillette was very very cheap involving minimal equity outlay by the Americans. I was amazed how cheaply Moores sold out, he was ill-advised and could have carried out the financial engineering himself with the help of friends and family.

    As for the future, LFC is in play and for good reasons. The only reason why DIC have chosen to hang around is because they smell blood. They are fully aware of all their options and have a very strong chance (>75%) of becoming major shareholders.

    Having used the classic Divide and Rule approach they have crafted a very interesting lead role in buying out one partner and effectively forcing the hand of the other.

  6. Schvilic – my response to you.

    1) The man went cap in hand around the city a couple of weeks ago and came back with nothing,
    HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT? HOW DO YOU KNOW WHETHER HE WAS SUCCESSFUL OR NOT ETC?
    His letter to the banks looking for investment was leaked to the press. Numerous people in the City have stated he went away empty handed.

    Daily Mail –

    A leaked email attempting to drum up business in London shows how desperate Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has become in his attempts to find new financial backers.
    The Hicks team, who originally demanded 16 seats for the Champions League game against Arsenal, have been on a road show in the City this week at the worst possible time in the credit crunch climate after failing to attract any interest in the United States.

    The email from Hicks’s people to potential London investors, which has more than a hint of desperation about it, offers three ways to participate with the Hicks Sports Group in Liverpool and promotes Hicks as ‘the master of purchasing and growing professional sports teams’.
    The options are buying a share of the Hicks Sports Group, whose half-share of Liverpool amounts to 75 per cent of the value of the group; purchasing warring co-owner George Gillett’s stake for £100million or joining a Hicks refinancing scheme that promises investors a 16 per cent profit over two years.
    It also trumpets Hicks as a ‘master’ at selling luxury boxes and clubs seats, and his intention to concentrate on the Chinese market with its ‘hundreds of thousands of Liverpool football fanatics’

    2) He needs numerous investors to help purchase 1/2 a club – which he has been running around the US looking for.
    HICKS HAS ALREADY PUBLICALLY STATED THAT HE WOULD BE WILLING TO PARTNER WITH ANOTHER INVESTOR TO BUY OUT GG SO LONG AS THAT PERSON WOULD BE WILLING TO BE A MINORITY INVESTOR (IE 49%) – HE ONLY SAID THAT HE IS NOT WILLING TO “RULE BY COMMITTEE” LIKE THEY HAVE CURRENTLY… YOU CANNOT HAVE TWO EQUAL PARTNERS IN ANY DEAL. SOMETHING HAS TO OVERRULE SO THE PARTNERSHIP CAN ACT.

    You cannot have two equal partners? That’s exactly the situation Hicks was very happy to enter into 15 months ago.

    Quote from Hicks – “I know there are people, institutions and individual investors who would like to be a minority investor with me and Liverpool”.

    3) He doesn’t have the finances to start a stadium.
    AS I MENTIONED ABOVE, HE HAS $120MM FOR THE STADIUM IN ESCROW – STADIUMS ARE FINANCED LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME! YOU SELL NAMING RIGHTS / SPONSORSHIPS / USE LEVERAGE AND FUND WHAT YOU HAVE TO IN EQUITY. IT IS JUST HOW STADIUMS GET BUILT. DIC WOULD DO IT THE SAME WAY. ALSO, HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY GG AND HICKS HAVE SPENT WORKING WITH ARCHETECTS FOR THE NEW STADIUM SO LFC WOULDN’T PLAY IN THE “PARRYBOWL?”

    The money to pay for architects came out of the clubs pockets not Hicks and Gillett.

    The Parry bowl was scrapped years ago. There was always going to be a redesign. I actually really like the proposed designs. The first stadium was class but the downgraded stadium is still top notch. However, I don’t see any financing being put in place to build it and all we have are pictures. I judge on actions not words.

    4) He didn’t have the money to buy the club at the start?
    OK THAT MAKES SENSE – HOW DID HE BUY IT THEN? MAGIC? THE GUY OWNS TWO OTHER SPORTS FRANCHISES AND HAS FOR A DECADE… HE ALSO HAS HAD A PRETTY SUCCESSFUL LIFE AS AN INVESTOR. THIS JUST MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. HOW DO YOU THINK HICKS AND GG BOUGHT THE TEAM IF THEY DIDN’T HAVE THE MONEY? THAT JUST DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE.

    I don’t have the money to buy a house. But if I go to a bank they buy the house for me and provide me with a mortgage. If I stop paying the bank they take their house back. It’s quite simple. The same applies to Hicks and Gillett.

    5) He hasn’t provided the money to back Rafa.
    WHAT DO YOU CALL LAST SUMMER? HOW CAN YOU DENY THAT HICKS AND GG DIDN’T SUPPORT RAFA LAST SUMMER? THEY SPENT MORE THAN MOORES EVER DID! I THINK THEY SPENT MORE THAN $100MM IN ONE SUMMER! SINCE THEN THEY HAVE SIGNED MASCHERANO AND SKRTL – THAT IS A LOT OF $$$ TO INVEST!

    Addressed in earlier post– I’ll ask you to back up the more than $100m claim.

    They spent £2million more than Moores ever did with loaned money despite a record of £54 million in prize money alone coming into the club.

    6) He refuses to answer questions about finance.
    WHEN DID HE GET ASKED ABOUT HIS FINANCIAL SITUATION? DIRECTLY? ALSO, MOST PEOPLE DON’T LIKE TO DISCLOSE THEIR FINANCIALS. HICKS HAS MAINTAINED THAT HE HAS THE FINANCIAL CAPACITY FOR LIVERPOOL SO I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU ARE GETTING THIS.

    Addressed in earlier post.

    Jim I will happily change my opinion of Hicks when he starts doing right for this club. But I have yet to see it.

    By right I mean – running the club with dignity, treating the fans with respect, treating employees of the club with respect, increasing our advertising and commercial revenues, removing the burden of purchase debt from the club (stadium debt is fine), not using Rafa in a PR battle, addressing the fans concerns directly not via Sky TV, replacing actions with words, building a new stadium, providing stability to the club etc, etc. Respect begets respect. These are things this club deserves and anyone who says otherwise doesn’t have the club at heart.

    I agree with Midlands Red lets concentrate on the football. 2-1 tonight – Torres and Babel

    YNWA

  7. Seems to be working now – must have been my Daily Mail link (i removed). Similar problems to Anthony by the looks of it.

    Anyway – I do agree today is about football so no more takeover talk.

    To say i’m nervous is an understatement. We need to keep our heads tonight. If we go a goal down it doesn’t change much – we still need to score. However if we score first – then game on!

    Thanks

    Stephen

  8. @Adam Tomkin – very informed view. I like it, however accurate/up-to-date it is. Your input reminds me of our old mucker John Steele – who’s taken leave of absence from this site. Bring back JS for his insight, after the game – if he’s reading this.

    But we must stick to the nitty gritty of tonight. No distractions until after the game, it’s my call to the masses.

    For some reason, and it will be different once the game starts for sure, I’m less apprehensive about this game than I was when we played Arsenal. Maybe it’s the Morinhuo factor and that, realistically, our record at Chelsea hasn’t been great. I don’t know.

    But let’s hope the boys are fired up, cool, controlled and ready to deliver as they have done so many times in Europe. And remember lads, even if Chelsea go 1 goal up, our mission is still the same – we have to score one goal.

    So walk on my brothers, tonight could be our time yet again!

  9. Just one final word on the issue of ownership! I cant see GG or TH remaining shareholders for long in LFC. If anybody would like to verify the poor response TH received from financial investors I suggest you call some of the UK private equity investment houses such as APAX, Permira, Blackstone etc. etc. and get their view. As far as the banks are concerned, spreads are wider and most US and UK banks are reluctant lenders – just this week HBOS and RBS are looking to raise £16bn! and perhaps Barclays may join the queue! There are some European banks open for new business but they are being very selective and at minimum will charge Hicks 10% interest per annum while equity investors have shunned the idea of a minority positions in illiquid investments.

    DIC are waiting in the wings knowing full well that they have Gillette in the bag and will then turn the screw on Hicks. All they have to do is for the 90 days to lapse, buy GG’s holding, instruct the board to issue new shares to dilute GH or simply buy him out. I am sure that as a good businessman he will do the latter by taking the cash on offer.

    Liverpool fans – i suggest that you be patient and look forward to your summer holiday as by then it will have been resolved.

  10. @Adam Tomkin: Thanks again Adam.

    Not to dispute the rest of what you say, because it does sound feasible, just wanted to mention this –

    We are not in a 90-day countdown. I can’t be more certain. I was already pretty doubtful about it for a while thanks to hints and signs in what different people were saying (GG was evasive when asked mid-march if the veto was in place for example). But now it’s being confirmed by, well, none of the current board but certain people who would know!

    That said, end-of-May is still being mentioned. And this idea of the end of our CL run (end of May please!) signalling the end is also still being mentioned. Mainly down to claims about how much difficulty Hicks is having over a) getting the money and b) keeping what he’s already got. It could be true, but it does sound more like something like we’ve been hearing over and over again.

    One key point to consider is whether DIC, shareholders in at least one bank, have any influence themselves in this (alleged Hicks difficulties).

  11. Jim – There may be no 90 day limit written into a contract between H&G, but it doesn’t mean to say that there is not a president that the courts will use to allow the sale to take place. The law will not dictate what happens in these situations it will be the responsibilty of the people entering into an agreement, so for that reason I believe that something will be written. The only way Hick’s will be able to stop Gillette from selling is if Gillette would be breaking a legaly binding agreement between the two.

  12. Jim, The 90-day is real – ask your contact at Allen & Overy (the law firm) who drafted the agreement.

    Anthony – I am a liverpool fan, fell in love with everything liverpool during my time at Liverpool Uni in the 80s!

  13. Adam Tomkin – I agree with you on the points made recently particularly the existence of a time limit clause, whether its kicked in yet is another matter.

    Some stellar posts! keep it up as there has been an apparent intellectual deficit on the posts in this forum lately.

    Anyway, I am all nerves in advance of tonight’s match.

    Come on you REDS. Skrtel to score!!!! (I don’t know why – just a vibe!)

  14. ” Some stellar posts! keep it up as there has been an apparent intellectual deficit on the posts in this forum lately. ”

    Raju – It is a football forum not an mensa forum.

  15. @Adam Tomkin: Thanks Adam,

    I’m not disputing a 90-day limit exists. I’m disputing the idea that the time has started ticking down.

    Any such limit would only start ticking down when an offer had been formally accepted.

    I’m also under impression that Dubai don’t see any problem whatsoever in overruling the “veto”, through the courts.

    For the first point I see no reason for those giving this info to lie about it in this way.
    For the last point I can only say that they seem extremely highly confident (almost blasé) of their chances of winning in court should Hicks try to block Gillett from selling.

    By the way, sorry if I missed it earlier, but which company is this agreement relating to? It’s a debate we’ve had before as to where the actual company for sale might be based, and which laws it might be subject to.

  16. @Anthony Fakir: Hicks has got until Gillett formally accepts an offer from Dubai. It’s only then that whatever’s in the pre-emption agreement would kick in.

  17. ” @Anthony Fakir: Hicks has got until Gillett formally accepts an offer from Dubai. It’s only then that whatever’s in the pre-emption agreement would kick in. ”

    Jim – How can Hick’s go to court to stop Gillette selling his shares if he hasn’t been able to get the money to buy out Gillette and he has not got the money to buy out gillette. A court is not likely going to favour Hicks if he can’t come by the money to buy Gillette out. And why has Gillette not yet accepted the bid from DIC, surely if gillette wants to sell to DIC then time is of the essence. Strike while the iron is hot.

  18. raju: apparently you’re not the only one who thinks so…
    (copied from the BBC message board leading up to today’s match)

    comment by stellartodger2-LFC- (U8833621)

    posted 1 Minute Ago

    Trying to do a history essay…not easy when your minds set on pressing the f5 button!liverpool to win tonight 1-0 with skrtel scoring….mark my words!

  19. @Anthony Fakir: If I give the reason why I think GG hasn’t accepted the offer, based partially on what others feel too, promise not to throw things at me…

    Because he doesn’t see any rush in accepting the offer on the table now, and thinks there might be more in it for him if he holds fire for now. I can’t think of any other reason. Except…

    (This is based on the conflicting stories about how Dubai could or couldn’t force Hicks out with a 50% stake.) Maybe Gillett’s offer is conditional on Dubai also getting some or all of Hicks’ half. So Gillett can’t actually accept until Hicks does. But that’s not from anything I’ve been told.

  20. Jim – So correct me if I’m wrong, you believe that DIC wont buy 50% of Gillette unless they can buy some or all of Hick’s shares. Or you may believe that Gillette may be playing hard ball to get more money from DIC. If the latter is true then do you not think that Gillette is playing a potentialy dangerous game.

  21. @Anthony Fakir: The other question, Hicks and court.

    Assuming all the conditions in the pre-emption agreement are met, I don’t see how Hicks could win anything in court.

    If, as everyone thinks, the pre-emption agreement gives him a limited time to match an offer then once that limit is passed that condition has been met.

    The time hasn’t started ticking yet, from what is being said.

    But it’s possible there are other conditions he thinks he can use in court against them, but I’ve no idea what they might be.

    It’s odd to admit the time limit hasn’t started to tick yet, but at the same time to say you won’t be blocked because you’ll go to court.

    Even if there’s evidence that Hicks has been turned down by 20 banks and 20 investors Hicks would only need to show a court he’d been discussing the options with other investors to possibly satisfy the court he can continue to run the 90 days down. So in theory, if GG accepted tomorrow Hicks could still force GG and Dubai to wait three months.

    Which is where it all gets confusing again.

  22. Prediction – DIC will not walk away again after what they’ve been through, they really want to own the club. They WILL buy all Gillett shares and I’m sure they can handle good ole Tom !
    Sheik Mohammed Rules…………Du Bai !

  23. @Anthony Fakir: I’ll correct you.

    Dubai haven’t made it clear if they’d go in at 50% with Hicks. Seriously, the information on that is full of conflicts and contradictions. Al-Ansari spoke recently in a way that suggested they’d not take anything less than 51%. But it could have been interpreted in more than one way.

    The suggestion I made about an offer being conditional on them getting control at the same time was nothing more than a theory.

    They’re all playing games, one way or other. Gillett’s only playing a dangerous game if he thinks Dubai will walk away. Although he may find his offer drops if Hicks is actually forced to sell (as keeps being claimed).

  24. ” Jofrad // Apr 30, 2008 at 6:26 pm
    Prediction – DIC will not walk away again after what they’ve been through, they really want to own the club. They WILL buy all Gillett shares and I’m sure they can handle good ole Tom !
    Sheik Mohammed Rules…………Du Bai ! ”

    Jofrad – “LONG LIVE THE SHEIKH AND HIS 30 BILLION FOR THE BETTERMENT OF LFC”

  25. Jim – The one thing which we can all be sure of is everyone has got their own agenda and its making for a very confusing picture being painted. Its just bloody frustrating, the not knowing is the worst part, the suspense.

  26. Jim,
    You just do not make sense, DIC would not be Gillett’s guests at Anfield and Stamford Bridge if the deal wasn’t done. They’re not going to be made fools of again.

  27. “Anthony Fakir // Apr 30, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    ” Some stellar posts! keep it up as there has been an apparent intellectual deficit on the posts in this forum lately. ”

    Raju – It is a football forum not an mensa forum.”

    Damn…I have been posting on this site under a false pretense all this time…

    BTW are you suggesting that the two are mutually exclusive?

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