Gillett: Time heals wounds with Hicks – no comment on sale

Bob McCown (r) and James Deacon (l)The last time George Gillett gave an interview to Toronto’s sports-based radio station The Fan 590, the war for control of Liverpool FC went right back to the top of the headlines again; it signalled the beginning of one of the ugliest phases in the fiasco of the past six months. It was the first time one of the owners had admitted they had a problem with their partner since DIC’s hostile takeover bid began late last year. Gillett admitted his relationship with Tom Hicks had broken down some time before. The interview included allegations from Gillett suggesting he’d received death threats from fans. It also contained a vow from Gillett that he would not sell a single percent of his stake in the club to partner Tom Hicks.

What followed was a public war of words which involved Gillett, Hicks, Rick Parry and David Moores, with Dubai International Capital sitting back and enjoying the fireworks, hopeful that when the dust settled they’d find both Hicks and Gillett standing pens in hand waiting to sign the shares away.

That didn’t happen, in fact very little has changed at all in terms of the club’s future. The battle was potentially damaging, certainly to Liverpool’s reputation, although the team did play on as if nothing was going on off the field. All that heartache for fans,  yet the club is still jointly owned by Messrs Gillett and Hicks.

So when news filtered out that Gillett was about to do another interview with the same presenter on the same station, fans were understandably anxious about what was going to be said, and what the fallout might be. It was made more worrying in that it followed on from a statement two weeks ago by the Liverpool supporter’s union, Spirit of Shankly, implying the ball was now firmly in Gillett’s court: “Is George Gillett still looking for every last penny?” the statement asked. “Well, why is he still here? Gillett is happy enough to give the impression he wants to sell. Well, SOS has been told he can sell whenever he wants. The opportunity is there to get out of our club. Why hasn’t he?” The impression was this information had come from the Dubai representatives in contact with SOS. And Gillett was possibly looking to defend himself.

Presenter Bob McCown told Gillett that fans had contacted the Toronto station in huge numbers ahead of last night’s broadcast, making it clear they wanted the interview to throw light onto the ownership situation. Gillett said that wasn’t going to be the case: “They’re going to be sorely disappointed; the reaction we got last time was so profound that we are going to have to tone it down. In fact just two seconds before we got hooked up on this I got a call from Norway saying that it had been disclosed over in Norway that at  11.00 or something tonight I was going to be on your show, so the world knows it.”

The co-host, James Deacon, asked Gillett if he’d ever experienced a reaction like the one to his last interview on the station: “No, I haven’t. It was really amazing. Notwithstanding your wise-guy comments regarding Portugal, soccer is the leading sport in the world! It was just shocking how popular Liverpool is so it did surprise me, but er…”

Deacon cut into Gillett’s pause, suggesting it must be humbling as Liverpool’s owner to know he has such responsibilities to Liverpool’s “fervent” fans: “Absolutely right.  It really is an amazing responsibility. You know, we’ve always felt, you know, for 40 plus years I’ve been around professional sports, that we really hold these assets in trust for the fans and that we have an obligation, er, to the fans, and we feel that very strongly, both in Montreal and Liverpool.”

McCown then asked Gillett if there had been any developments in terms of the ownership since that last interview. Gillett was unwilling to give anything away: “No, I, I, nothing… Nothing that either I would talk about or would be worth talking about.”

He did however say that the relationship between the warring partners had improved: “I think it’s fair to say that there has been, erm, the communication between the Hickses and the Gilletts, erm has been, erm, substantially improved and I believe that it will erm, it will be for the benefit of the club.”

The Gilletts, The Hickses, Parry, MooresMcCown suggested this was surprising, given the reaction from Tom Hicks to that last interview. He said Hicks seemed not to have taken it too well: “No, but time is a healer,” said Gillett. “And there were things that had happened previously the other way as well, and er it took a while for both of us I think to realise, well, I think that we both realised, that perhaps we weren’t communicating very well, the huge responsibility we have to the fans and to do the right thing for the club, and I believe the Hickses are communicating better with us and we’re communicating better with them. And I think that will be much better for the club.”

In light of this admission of better co-operation, McCown asked if, for want of a better phrase, the “For Sale” was sign still up. Gillett was tight-lipped: “I’m not going to comment on anything Bob, specifically on… anything.”

Instead Gillett seemed to suggest that the co-operation was related to the day-to-day running of the club: “All of us are focused on the transfer window coming up and so forth, we want to be ready for that and we want to have adequate resources and good communication with Rafa and our hope is that we’re making that kind of progress.”

Asked for his views on Liverpool’s season, Gillett again seemed reluctant to put his own feelings forward: “I would rather the fans be the ones to make that decision, but for a club that has a history of winning trophies, any season that you don’t win one of the five or six trophies we compete for, I suspect the fans as well as the Hickses and the Gilletts, are disappointed.” Liverpool’s first team competed for the standard four trophies last season.

He suggested he wasn’t pleased with the middle part of the season, but did notice Torres wasn’t a bad signing: “Overall, I thought the team played quite well, erm, particularly er, beginning and late. I think they were very representative and I think Torres was a wonderful, wonderful selection last summer, I think that the rest of the boys played quite well, and er, you know, I think we’ve got to help Rafa try and be more competitive in the chase for The Premiership.”

25 thoughts on “Gillett: Time heals wounds with Hicks – no comment on sale”

  1. Still think we need new owners can t see them work togheter WE need money for new players and it seems that theese two twarts haveint got any to spend on LIVERPOOL so I say please go now before it gets wearst and let DIC

  2. This “interview” changes abolutely nothing. Nothing on future plans and that includes the stadium. How can there be any viable future for the club under these 2 guys ? It just will not work.

  3. like mei am sure there was disappointment out there when the news came out that the rift was healed. because the way it stood dic would buy gillett out and then force hicks out through financial leveridge. they cannot afford liverpool.

  4. @Jofrad,

    I agree completely. They break and they make up. We’re in the same situation. If anything, them being re-united could and should present an easier target for DIC.

    They promised us three things; any player Benitez wants, a new stadium, and to respect the fans.

    They’ve delivered barely the 1st one. It will only be a matter of time before one opens his big mouth.

    A plus point, news of our interest in David Silva really pleases me, I’d love to have him in our team.

  5. I don’t see Gillett’s comments as meaning anything more than the pair agreeing to be professional for the sake of the club (their investment).

    We can read a lot of other possibilities into it.

    For example – if Hicks has matched DIC’s offer, and Gillett is at least on tentative speaking terms with Hicks – why not accept the offer? Maybe there hasn’t been one.

    But – if Hicks can’t block the sale, as DIC told SOS, and it’s all in GG’s hands – why hasn’t GG accepted the offer? Possibly there hasn’t been one, there has been a conditional one, or Hicks can block the sale (or part sale).

  6. I don’t see how much will change. Hicks can barely run a Major League Baseball Team in the U.S. and has made some awful player purchases. His Dallas Stars of the NHL does not pay for great players. The Montreal Canadiens, the most storied franchise in the NHL, could win as well. They have a good team, but Gillett won’t pay for big-time players. If the Canadiens had signed a couple of of top players at the trade deadline, his team may have made it to the Stanley Cup Final.

    I don’t think Hicks and Gillett realize what they have gotten themselves into. If Rafa can’t sign world-class talent, I don’t know how the Reds can compete against Man United, Chelsea, and Arsenal. And Spurs is giving Ramos some money to throw around as well.

    I guess only time will tell what will transpire. In the meantime, we have to sit back and wait with a heart full of hope.

  7. I think this just confirms DIC have no chance of anything, at least for the time being. I don’t know why people keep harping on about it, it must be the most boring story in LFC’s history.

  8. The GG interview reveals nothing except they are communicating a little more, no doubt with their own benefit in mind. It has become blatantly obvious that niether of them has the knowledge or financial resources to own and run LFC, their only financial resource is borrowed money for which they put up a small percentage in surety and then the club pays all of the interest. Both of the Americans have only their own personal financial interest at heart otherwise, they would have allowed LFC to be owned by somebody who does have the resources to take them forward. What is the next stage, that the Americans agree to a shared stadium as that would halve the amount they need by way of security to obtain loan funds, always assuming somebody will lend them money.
    There is little doubt that the club would have been better off still owned by David Moores as he did support the Manager even to the extent of loaning money to buy a player.

  9. Nothing like a few quotes to flame the fire!

    Gillett’s words were welcome. After seeing Hicks hit the headlines for bashing ‘Chelsea for Torres’ talk, we finally got a few words from his other half.

    We now know that the relationship is no longer unworkable. And that they’ll be working together to make Liverpool more competitive in the PL. But what we don’t know is how?!

    We now know that Gillett sees it as a family affair – talking about the Hickses and Gilletts. And that the communication between the two families have improved. But does this mean they’ll be showing a sign of solidarity by sitting next to each other at home games?

    We also know that Gillett realises the huge responsibility he has to the club and the supporters. And that he and his partner are taking their responsibility seriously. But when they gave their first press conference I thought they realised that at the time?

    So, we know more than we did a week ago but not enough to put rumours and serious doubts to bed.

    I look forward to more quotes gained from tough questioning journalists not friends in Canada or a ‘heart to heart with Sky Sports New.’

    @Jim I liked your post. After months of talk and counter-talk on this subject you’re as baffled as the rest of us as to where this current ‘situation’ leaves us!

    Let’s hope Rafa’s spend and work on the stadium, makes us feel more positive about the future. Time will tell.

  10. I dont like TH and GG, But after all this i am not sure if DIC are a good option, they are doing all it takes to buy the club but i m not seeing them repecting the club with the way they do business

  11. ” I don’t think Hicks and Gillett realize what they have gotten themselves into. If Rafa can’t sign world-class talent, I don’t know how the Reds can compete against Man United, Chelsea, and Arsenal. And Spurs is giving Ramos some money to throw around as well. ”

    @Ken Christian good point, I think as well that Liverpool where lucky last season that Spurs didn’t have the best of seasons. If they did we would have found ourseleves in a fight with them instead of just the Blues we could have easily found ourselves finishing 5th. We got out of it by the skin of our teeth last season, and only for spurs having a dodgy season we could have been in a lot of shit.

  12. UNWA,

    Having more money is no guarantee they will spend it. Neither is there any guarantee they will be the answer to all our prayers.

    Think back to how we greeted H&G. If they can resolve their differences then I would feel happier under American control than Arab. Whatever you think about Americans they do have excellent business acumen and like it or not, a football club is a business.

    OTOH, if they can’t get the money for the stadium and their differences continue to damage the club then they should accept that and sell.

    The problem is if you then don’t like DIC there is no other saviour waiting in the wings.

  13. To declare that americans have ‘excellent business accumen’ is like pronouncing that all Swedish girls are blonde, tall and glamorous. A pointless generalisation. And one no doubt Dumb and Dumber fell for when they made their disastrous decision to sell to these 2 scoundrels.

    Some Americans may have business accumen, and no doubt our 2 also have in their own ways. But they do not fit the challenge of Liverpool.

    One of the big lies of the sporting world is that football is ‘big business’. A yearly revenue of even £200m is piffling. It is not big business. Football isnt business in the true sense. Few clubs in the world make any profit. Whilst Liverpool would clearly benefit from being run on business lines, to run it as a business expecting it to make an attractive return is a nonsense.

    The essence of business accumen in many ways is to delay any decision to the last possible moment at which it can still be effective. G&H still have their loans. They dont need to sell now. They are best advised to sit tight and see how the situation pans out.

  14. StMichel,

    I should have said all successful American businessmen have excellent business acumen. I stand by that opinion.

    If they can run LFC at a profit then that allows for new players to be bought. I’m not suggesting the fans etc. should be fleeced to create that profit. Godo sponsorship deals and corporate ventures can help enormously as Man U and Arsenal have shown. That was one of the weaknesses under Moores.

    I didn’t say they should run it as a business. I said successful businessmen would have a better chance of running it well.

    So apart from loads of money what are DICs credentials? From what I’ve read they would sack Benitez. Is that really going to help the current crop of players? I doubt it.

  15. I should have said all successful American businessmen have excellent business acumen. I stand by that opinion.

    @Ray sorry for being picky but isn’t that true of all business men. Surley if you are succesfull in business then you have good acumen no matter wher you are from

  16. Egg Man,

    I wouldn’t disagree but large American companies tend to dwarf those of other countries’ and everything is on a larger scale.

    And of course we are owned by Americans hence why I concentrated on them.

  17. Right now Liverpool needs a benefactor. Yep, run the club on a commercial lines and create extra revenue yieds but do not expect the club to generate an income stream that can pay a dividend yield and service a debt.

    Liverpool as it it stands cannot generate enough money to compete in the transfer market. On top of this it needs to generate money to fund a stadium. In addition any commercial owners would need money to service debts and finally to pay themselves a return on the risk.

    The ‘American business owner’ model was obviously flawed from day one. The club was undervalued at the time of the sale (as it was when Morgan tried to buy, when he walked away over a difference in vauation of <£1m). Leveraged buy outs are successful typically when the value can be generated by 1) cost cutting 2) asset disposals/carve outs 3) balance sheet re-engineering. Not, when in the Liverpool siutation significant investment is required. The requirement for additional capital is too great the risk too uncertain.

    I truely believe that from day 1 the Yanks understood this. They have had no intention of building the stadium. Instead they are simply following the Warren Buffet mantra. Buy an undervalued asset, sit tight and then sell.

  18. @StMichel,
    Right on.
    The unvarnished truth is painful but the fact is we’ve all been conned and the only other show in town (benefactor or not) is DIC, so we’d all better be nice to them.


    “Liverpool need money, both for squad reinforcement and to build their new stadium, if they are to remain competitive. That is what Gillett and Hicks were brought in to provide and so far there is no indication whatsoever that they have anything like the resources to do that. Moreover, they have brought embarrassment on the club, squabbling not only with each other but with Benitez and Rick Parry, the chief executive. This autumn they are going to be under serious pressure to provide the funding for the new stadium. If they can’t do that, they simply have to sell.”

    Not much more to say really.

  20. @I don’t see how much will change. Hicks can barely run a Major League Baseball Team in the U.S. and has made some awful player purchases. His Dallas Stars of the NHL does not pay for great players. The Montreal Canadiens, the most storied franchise in the NHL, could win as well. They have a good team, but Gillett won’t pay for big-time players. If the Canadiens had signed a couple of of top players at the trade deadline, his team may have made it to the Stanley Cup Final.

    NHL has a salary cap and you don’t pay transfer fees. Completely different league. Texas Rangers are actually doing well this season.

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