Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has promoted a member of his
Hicks Sports Group into a newly created role, which will include some involvement
with the running of the Reds. Hicks Sports Group is owned by Hicks Holdings.
Casey Shilts, 39, is to become chief operating office of the
group, which is the holding company that owns Texas Rangers, the Dallas Stars
and Hicks' half of Liverpool FC (through another holding company).
According to reports from the States, Shilts (no relation to
the oft-sung about Peter Shilton), will be overseeing operations of the three
sports sides (or franchises) on a day-to-day basis – including Liverpool FC. As
part of the web of companies owned by Hicks, she'll also be sitting on the
board of Center Operation Co which runs the American Airlines Center (used by
the Dallas Stars). She'll also be taking charge of running Hick's golf course
and hotel development in a place called Bariloche in Argentina.
Speaking about her new job, Shilts said: "The biggest
challenge will be the global breadth of all of Hicks Holdings and being able to
manage between what Tom has in Liverpool to what we're doing in Argentina as
well as the important teams we have here." As for working with the
executives of each team, including Rick Parry of course, she said her intention
is to "cross-fertilize those businesses so we can learn from each other."
In the background to this appointment is a rumour that Hicks
has fallen out with Gillett, his co-owner of Liverpool. Some rumours claim the
fall-out is over money, others say it is over Hicks' perception that his half
of the partnership is being pushed to one side, because Foster Gillett, and not
one of Hicks' sons, will be getting the dominant role in the Anfield boardroom this
autumn. It's this alleged row that is said to be holding back funds for Rafa Benitez. Perhaps this new appointment will help smooth things over, although of course the opposite could yet happen.
Hicks says that Shilts was an obvious choice for the role of
coordinating both the Hicks' sports interests and various building projects (including of course
the new Anfield stadium), thanks to her experience on the £300m Glorypark
development, adjacent to the Texas Rangers' stadium in Arlington. Hicks said: "She
brought it all together. We made tremendous progress with the city and in the
project, and she led all of our efforts doing that." The Glorypark building
work is set to begin this year and will open in two years, with retail, office
and entertainment properties.
A similar project is coming soon for Shilts. Planned to be next
to the Dallas Stars' home is an office, residential and hotel project to be
called Champions Park. This is still at the design stage and it seems Shilts is
tasked with getting city leaders on side.
Is Hicks getting bored with his sports teams? Hicks is
reported to have said Shilts' appointment allows him to focus more of his time
on his private-equity dealings. He has just bought 40% of SafeMed, a healthcare
software company and he also announced plans to try and raise £200m dollars to
buy more companies.
Shilts herself has been a Hicks employee since 2000 after
being poached from the Coca-Cola Company.
According to the US newspaper the Star-Telegram, she's also a member of the board of directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Texas. This volunteer organisation describes itself as one "that provides children support, guidance, friendship and fun by matching them to adult role models".