BBC: Hicks family wanted out last season

Liverpool’s future remains on a knife’s edge, with conflicting tales coming out from all involved in that future. Today’s Sportsweek programme on the BBC’s Five Live radio channel carried some interesting allegations that add yet more weight to the stories that the owners are looking to get out.

You can listen to the programme here: Five Live Sportsweek Podcast. The story on Liverpool FC begins a couple of minutes into the piece.

According to the presenter, the future for the American owners now seems to be “quite clearly” away from Anfield. He said that negotiations have actually already taken place for DIC to take over, but that DIC won’t pay over the odds. They remain insistent they will pay no more than the true value of the club, which they now consider to be “around £300million”.

The presenter went on to say that DIC were keen to stress that their desire is to make the club financially stable, and to invest in players.

He also says that he had been told relationships between Liverpool and the owners have not been good from day one. He was told by a source that a close family member of Hicks had told him after a game at Anfield last season that, “They couldn’t wait to get rid of the club and they were sick and tired of it.”

The source also said that the relationship between Hicks and Gillett is strained, and that once against Foster Gillett has disappeared: he’s not been seen in Liverpool for two weeks.

The presenter claimed that the relationship between Tom Hicks and Rafa Benitez was “like a tinderbox” and that a contact of Benitez had told him last week that Rafa views Hicks with “complete contempt”.

Meanwhile the BBC’s banking sources had claimed that the refinancing deal with RBS would be completed this week, and that this would put Hicks and Gillett in a stronger position to sell.

The present said a city source said he was sure it was only a matter of time before a deal is done.

The BBC had tried on several occasions to get Hicks to an interview, but he had declined on every occasion.

It was the BBC website yesterday that claimed a bid was about to be made by DIC for the club. In fact of course it’s one of many recent claims along those lines. Yesterday’s BBC report said this bid replaced DIC’s earlier plan, revealed midweek in the Liverpool Echo, to buy out Hicks alone. They now wanted to buy out both owners. The figure quoted originally in the BBC report, £500m, was later amended on their website to a substantially lower £350m. That’s dropped again today in the BBC’s radio report, to “around” £300m.

Back from a break, Chris Bascombe was again writing in the News of the World this morning. It was his revelations last summer in the Echo, and later on during the autumn in the NOTW, that set alarm bells ringing about the mess the club seemed to be heading for. Chris’s report this morning also spoke of the bid from DIC, worth £350m according to his report, in which he quotes an ‘Anfield source’ as saying: “In a strange way DIC may think it’s worth waiting for the Americans to refinance because it will lessen the value of the club because of the level of debt. But the best thing that can happen is for the pair of them to get out now. It’s clear the old board has made a huge mistake selling to these two.”

The Gillett camp is maintaining its silence of the past couple of months.

The Hicks camp is maintaining its stance of being unaware of any offers and of having no intention of selling up.

In reality the businessmen who own the club will both have their own idea of what kind of price they’d sell for. It was on Monday that the Echo revealed the owners came close to selling 15% of the club to DIC before Christmas, the deal falling through because the price equated to the club being worth £1bn. This was in the same set of reports in which they exclusively revealed the admission by Hicks that he’d lined up Klinsmann, as an “insurance policy”. But if £1bn seemed too high to DIC before Christmas, it’s way over their valuation now.  The lowest price quoted for their bid – £300m – would be enough to pay off the finance taken out by the owners for the deal last year, but would not leave them with a great deal of profit.

With all of these reports of DIC making a bid for the club, and no denial from DIC who have come out with replies along the lines of “we can’t comment on that yet”, there is very little doubt that DIC have made that bid, or are about to make it. And they would not make a bid without feeling there would be at least a chance of success, suggesting an indication came from the owners that an offer would be likely to be accepted. It’s as if the offer has been made for the lowest possible price that DIC feel the owners would accept. As if DIC knew how much to bid to make it a tough choice for the owners. If they refuse the offer, and DIC decide to once again call it a day on their attempts, Hicks and Gillett could be stuck with a club they can’t afford, one where the fans sing their names in derogatory terms every game, singing from under banners that demand the owners leave. But DIC may no longer be willing to bail them out by then.

The BBC claim that a Hicks family member made such a comment after a game at Anfield last season seems quite far-fetched. There were no signs of problems last season, the first signs really started to show themselves as we got towards the end of May, and the Athens final. Perhaps behind the scenes they were worried after finding their speed-dating approach to due diligence meant they’d missed something big. Maybe their post-takeover talks with Rafa had made them realise literally for the first time that the European transfer market was well-and-truly a seller’s market, not to mention quite unlike the US systems for acquiring new team members.

This raises a question that Liverpool fans still need to ask. Are we sure that DIC are not just a fire to jump from the frying pan into? Are we certain that DIC’s intentions really are more honourable than what we now believe Hicks and Gillett’s are? Are we sure that the masses of anti-Hicks reports are not just propaganda put out to strengthen DIC’s position whilst weakening Hicks and Gillett’s?

If it is propaganda, the Hicks camp have handled it badly. Most of the claims that were made before Christmas have turned out to be true. The reasons given for lining up Klinsmann would perhaps be acceptable to some supporters, if only they actually matched what the situation was at the time. The “insurance policy” argument fails on a number of counts. First of all, were not struggling in the league at that point in the season. We were still unbeaten, if perhaps with too many draws against our name. The Thanksgiving holidays, the time Hicks says the Klinsmann interview took place, came at the end of a two-week break from domestic football due to internationals. So there were certainly no poor results that could prompt this move at that time, unless it had been planned far in advance of that week. Managers do not get sacked for being knocked out of the group stages of the Champions League. Yet Hicks admitted that Rafa would have been out of a job had that happened. This threat caused the club’s first league defeat of the season, a few days before the last group game in the Champions League. There was no way Rafa was going to take a risk against Reading that would lessen his chances against Marseilles.

So in reality the so-called poor league performance wasn’t poor enough to be sufficient to sack a manager like Rafa – in fact had the pressure not been telling on Rafa and his demoralised squad during the recent run of three drawn games, Liverpool would have been three points off the top when taking their game-in-hand into consideration; three points that perhaps wouldn’t have been dropped in that Reading game. The other reason given was that the owners felt Rafa was going to leave. This is quite laughable really – they say that they believed press speculation enough that they had to get someone lined up to replace him. The same people that tell us to ignore the stories of the past few months because it is – they say – just press speculation, were now expecting us to accept they lined up Klinsmann because of press speculation!

There are too many contradictions in their denials for us to be able to trust them, and without trust they will struggle to ever get the supporters back on their side. Denials have been made either individually by Hicks, by the club on behalf of both owners, by Hicks’ spokesman on behalf of both owners, or by Rick Parry on behalf of both owners.

We saw the story the stadium was to be downgraded carefully denied one Saturday, only to be admitted two days later. That admission included a denial that the credit crunch was to blame for delays in getting the new finance deals in place. This denial came about 30 days after Hicks had said it would take 30 days to get that finance in place, finance that still isn’t in place. And Hicks admitted on Monday that the credit crunch was a factor in the delays after all. Hicks also said in an interview with SI in the US that the UK press had made up the stories he was planning to fire Rafa – and of course his admission on Monday that Rafa had been one game away from the elbow was in effect an admission that he’d lied to SI!

Unless they make big efforts to explain the long list of contradictions and to demonstrate with actions rather than words some of the claims they make, they are in an irretrievable position. They say they support Rafa, which would contradict the claims on the BBC today, but saying it proves nothing. They have effectively stolen a season from Rafa in terms of his being able to have a crack at the league – so they would need to offer him a 12-month extension to his contract to give him that season back. If they genuinely are concerned he could up and leave one summer, why not structure this new contract in such a way that Rafa walking out of his own accord would hit him financially, through the use of loyalty bonuses and so on?

An explanation of where the money went last summer would help them, but it would need to be done honestly. Liverpool’s income after a long run in the Champions League would have been slightly higher than normal last year already, but those massive TV contracts the owners were enthusing about at takeover meant that Rafa’s transfer budget should have been higher than normal even without the owners adding to it. Don’t forget also that sales of players brought in more than in a normal summer. They borrowed a substantial amount over what was needed to buy out the previous shareholders, and there seems to be nothing to show for this. It doesn’t necessarily mean that money has been wasted, or that the owners should have put more money in, but until it’s explained it actually does look that way.

The Hicks camp are aware that protests are planned for tomorrow night’s game at Anfield, but it’s difficult to predict exactly how much that will hurt them. It’s important to point out that the protests are not against the US as a whole, despite the inevitable wording on banners and in songs, but are against the current owners. And the protests remain against both owners – Gillett has made no effort to respond to requests that he put his side of the story forward, to distance himself from the actions that seem mostly to have been carried out by Hicks. With ‘soccer’ still so low-key, despite recent growth in interest, in the US the protests may barely register in Hicks’ homeland, although US Reds will no doubt do what they can to draw attention to the banners and chants.

This week could be one of the most memorable in the club’s history. There is no doubt whatsoever that DIC are making a bid. The amount of that offer is in doubt, due to the fluctuating reports in that regard, but an offer is there to be made. The doubt is whether either of the owners will accept the offer. The indications are now strong that they will, finally, be able to get the new finance in place this week – finance that could leave the club struggling in the future due to the high interest rates it will inevitably attract. The offer from DIC would give them at the very least a small profit, depending on which figure finally turns out to be true.

Whether the owners sell to DIC or stay on with that new finance deal, there’s no doubt that Liverpool’s ownership structure will differ substantially from what was promised at takeover last year. The club will be heavily in debt under Hicks and Gillett, and with that debt in place could not afford much more delay to the new stadium. But the new stadium plans still haven’t been chosen from the two currently on the table – and neither of those have planning permission. If on the other hand DIC win their battle to take over, we’re really unsure of how our future will map out. They seem to be intent on releasing money for investment in the squad, but how heavily remains to be seen.

Whatever happens, we have to accept that the Liverpool of old has already gone. What we’ve got to hope for is that the new Liverpool will try harder to keep to the traditions of the old than this interim version has.

26 thoughts on “BBC: Hicks family wanted out last season”

  1. Where is Steve Morgan? Where’s Robbie? Where’s King Kenny? I know that the DIC involvement is probably good for the club but surely there’s some Liverpool millionaire who can afford to spend some money here or put together a consortium for the future of our club.

    Something else that occurs to me is that the Murdoch press seem to be rather enjoying sticking the knife in. The heat seems to be of Rafa now – they’re trying to undermine the whole club. If we win both of our games in hand we can still place some real pressure on the teams above us but the team all look shot in terms of confidence. The short passes all look a yard too short, the players need each other.

    This ongoing debacle helps no-one apart from our competition and whilst the top three have all improved significantly, we are still struggling to finish 4th.

    Come on boys, dig deep!

  2. Long time RED and I now live and work in the US. There is no mention of the 2 owners in the US press or the mess theyre making of our club. I can only hope they leave and that DIC have good intentions for our club.The future of the club looked so bright back in August but now I’m very worried and disappointed that once again a title challenge has gone by the way side. I have very little confidence in Parry or anyone at the board level. Liverpool were sold for $ and not long term success. If Parry really wants whats best then he needs to let the fans know whats really going on.Right now if the 2 owners and Parry were on fire I wouldnt even spit on them!!!!! Their actions have been a disgrace and not inkeeping with the clubs traditions.We dont do our business in public like this!!

  3. I have supported pool as long as I can remember but am struggling to equate this debarcle to anything that has happened at the club in the past! Sure we have had problems in the past but not as laughable as our current situation, I always wanted DIC to take over if we had to sell even though I was against that idea the day it was mentioned. Look at Arsenal, a class manager in Wenger and investment in young talent and the team with the full backing of the board, how the hell were we unable to do the same with our football heritage I do not know. Well I feel dejected, I dont know about everyone else but I feel that our current owners are not commited or knowledgable enough about our beautiful game or club, a manager that could possibly take us somewhere but as time goes on and I see more rotation, more 2nd class signings and am losing confidence. Here is to the yanks out and DIC in with hopefully funding for the new stadium to help them with their profit margins and allow us more opportunity to win the league once again!!

  4. The Liverpool fans in both Canada and USA are fully aware of the money grabbing owners of Liverpool FC. But the general public in North America have no clue of the bad name they are giving both countries in Liverpool and the UK.
    I am an exiled scouser living in Toronto and can tell you in no uncertain terms if they do to the Montreal Canadians Hockey team what they are doing to Liverpool then maybe and only maybe would anyone sit up and take notice.
    I like every other Liverpool fan believe the board made a major mistake in selling their shares to these two and now they must face the music if you want to blame anyone blame Mr. Parry he sold to the Americans for financial reasons and only financial reasons he should be recognised as the Judas and dealt with accordingly.
    Lets hope that DIC do take over and provide the support that the club needs to progress.

  5. I agree Rick Parry could not clean Peter Robinson’s shoes but what about David Moore’s who banked an extra £8 million by selling to the Yanks, did he not have a say in who bought LFC, I hope all these board members who seen the $ are enjoying the extra cash.

    I can’t begin to tell all Kop fans how disapointed i was when Gillett made his 11th hour bid and cost us the chance of having an organisation behind our club that could really rival the Chelski’s the Manc’s.

    A year ago i was favouring DIC without a doubt and that remains the case today, lets see what the next week or so brings.

    On the subject of Rafa i really love this guy but get very frustrated when we rotate as often as we do, the great LFC teams of the past did not always have the best players in the world but players with lots of character and because the best 11 always started we had a team that knew each others moves inside out.

    Looking forward to the Villa game on Monday evening, hope the Yanks get the message and leave the running of our great club to people who are passionate about winning silverware as much as our fans.

    Bring on the DIC.

  6. They’ll sell…no doubt. I’d say they can’t get out quickly enough. They’re caught up in a busines they don’t understand and if DIC give them their money back with a small profit they will take the money and run. All of this BS about the shares not being for sale is simply the usual positioning t maximise the price paid. Anyway, what bank is going to give them a ball of money secured against assets which are clearly being run into the ground? So long boys.

  7. i am glad i read this article as it has helped to convince me that the hellish time of hicks and gillett will end soon. they have done nothing to help the progress of the club i support and have actually made it worse. the stadium design has had to be rethought, so that will take longer, transfer funds have been limited, they havent backed the manager in the media, what have they done right? the sooner they leave the better, it just makes me wonder why the board thought that the yanks takeover would be more beneficial than one of the richest man in the worlds group of investors. for a start sheik mohamed is a liverpool fan and so would show passion and commitment to make the club succeed.
    fingers crossed the takeover will be completed before end of transfer window. thats all from me, bye all liverpool fans!!!!

  8. Agree with the above, top article. I await the developments of this week with a mixture of hope and concern.


  10. i’m sorry to say it all came down to greed in the end. after all the support the moors family has given to the club over the years david had to go and make a complete balls up of this most important decision in the clubs history.

    he said when the hicks offer came in at the twelfths hour, and it is on record “i have the share holders to consider” which is a none football consideration purely financial. his duty was to the club nobody has ever bought shares in liverpool fc as an investment (not before the present cowboys anyway) the club has never paid a dividend to shareholders in it’s history. it has always been an honour to own shares in liverpool. any profit always went back into the club.

    david moors is a good Liverpudlian and when he decided to sell the club it was for all the right reasons he could not afford to build the new ground and he was not able to provide the funding to compete in the transfer market. if he could have he would still be in the driving seat. i was amazed when he changed sides right at the last minute. i was disappointed but i could never have foreseen what a complete and utter disaster these people would be.

    we all know that to run a big club like liverpool you have to be very wealthy and be prepared to spend some of your own money to keep the club successful. now these two are not prepared to spend a penny, all as they want to do is pile debt onto the club and this is only to pay for the purchase of the club, which they categorically said they would not do when they where negotiating the transaction. part of the deal, and it must be in the contract was to build the new stadium. they have reneged on it when it will start god only knows. they must know that the only reason that the club was sold was to build the new “ground” and it is hard to see any real money being available to buy the players we required to be competitive.

    the senior management at board level has been a disaster ever since john smith retired and although david moors’ heart is in the right place he is no leader and his advisers are a sick joke, parry is a prime example. it’s a pity that david moors is the architect of the whole debacle. he must hold his head in shame.

    one thing that hicks and his partner should consider is that the real owners of the club are the supporters without us there is no club. we showed our power against the sun so they should always keep this in mind.

  11. During the whole summer they only showed up once for the new stadium’s design revealing, and since then they went off and hardly ever shed any light into any matter… and all of a sudden they appeared saying that the club won’t handle January transfers until December… and a couple of days later again appeared for the wrong reasons… when the club started stuttering “and surely because of them after reading this” they started making allegations that Rafa is the one who wants to leave, and the worst comment I’ve heard so far is “we are still commetted to the club”… they only appeared to give a sick comment, and everytime they show up in the news section I fear for the worst.

    I honestly feel that they are the only reason Liverpool is not doing well, Rafa have said that the players are affected by all this fiasco in a clear sign to these idiots to tell them to SHUT THE FUCK UP and let us concentrate on winning games now. I still believe that we have a shout at the title this season, and if we ever lost that chance it will only be because of these 2 cunts. I only wish they die and burn in hell over all this shit they’ve done against us… they are destroying our beautiful club and I’m more than sure that non of us Liverpool supporters are going to let these muppits do any more damage on us.

  12. If DIC were to sign Liverpool instead of these two clowns yanks we would have a hands on representative in Liverpool very often.

    The CEO of DIC is a true Liverpool fan. He always come to watch our game and supported the club for more than 20 years.

    Why the hell did Parry and Moores select the Americans other than more $ for themselves.

    If it is not $ then it must be that they are racists then.

    Get out you yanks and just sell your shares to DIC!!!

    These yanks obviously just want to make huge profit and it is all Parry and Moores fault!!!

  13. The phrase ‘Making cash from chaos’ springs to mind.

    As a conspiracy theory, I thinks Hicks has manufactured the situation, undermining Rafa, alienating the fans, knowing that DIC are waiting in the wings to land him with a substantial return on his investment.

    Why else would he make all of this so public, interviews in Sports Illustrated and someone feeding The S*n and Mirror details of internal discussions between the owners and Rafa.

    We would need some kind of long term commitment from DIC, at least the CEO is a Red. But I think the day that the Moores family sold up, was the day that those kind of guarantees went out of the window.

    At least we still have Rafa..for now.

  14. Another excellent piece of analysis, and hitting the nail on head IMO.

    Thanks, and keep the good work, as there are many who are too cynical to appreciate just how much trouble our beloved club is in.

  15. Another story, another view!! I agree the take-over has not been a success but please explain why the finger is pointing just at the owners!! After Rafas outburst to the press, many clubs would have replaced him! This is the same as his previous club, he couldn’t get what he wanted, so he moaned to the press, this is NOT the actions of a balanced leader, but the actions of a man that puts himself first and thats dangerous for us! I feel there has been negative from both sidesand find it very worrying that we as a club have now mounted a witch-hunt! I agree with this one side article to a point but please, tell it how it is and Rafas actions need questioning as much as the new owners, maybe more as he is the guy who makes the decisions on the pitch! In the summer Rafa came out and said he was happy with the summer transfers and achieved what he had hoped for … so why the public moan to the press and then the tracksuit thing next game, this is more the action of a spoilt brat, not a mature balanced manager! So no matter how much people want to stay blinkered, the facts are still there and always will be, Rafa needs to apologise to this great club for taking his issues to the press and as for the owners …. Im not sure, but whatever happens stop protecting Rafa from his unacceptable actions and this is the reason why they thought about a replacement, because after his childish spat at the owners via the press, I was expecting him to leave!!!

  16. Lets face it……..we are up shit creek without a paddle.I don’t like to blame Moores who has in the past dipped into his own pockets to fund a transfer or two such a Kuyt but it seems he and Parry are to blame but none of us fans know what promises the 2 cranks made to Moores.They promised a new stadium and to respect our clubs heritage they have thus far done neither.

    I’m certain that there is now light at the end of the tunnel.DIC will buy out the 2 clowns but it takes time.Hicks is never going to admit he wants to sell the club as that would make him look desperate he will just wait until the price is right and then sell and so will Gillett who has clearly realised he made a mistake and that explains why his son has once again disappeared for another 2 weeks.

    Will DIC prove to be any better? Who knows but the money they have is far greater than the Yanks and I can’t see the logic in them buying our club and to then not invest in any new players as that would mean ess success and drive the value of the club down.Look at the investments they have made compared to the Cranks:
    Usa v DIC

    Tom Hicks owns:

    Ice Hockey team Dallas Stars, bought for £42m in 1995

    Baseball team Texas Rangers, bought for £123m in 1998.

    Hicks Holdings is the company that controls his sporting and real estate empire, worth over Û1billion (£511m).

    Has interests in fossil fuel drilling tools, a data services company and an Argentine pet food company.

    George Gillett owns:

    Ice Hockey team Montreal Canadiens, bought for £95m in 2000.

    Gillett Evernham Motorsports, bought from Roy Evernham in August 2007.

    Booth Creek Ski Holdings Inc, running a range of ski resorts across America. Northland Services Inc – a marine transportation company Great Northern Bank and Sierra Organics – a landscaping and gardening company.

    Dic own:

    Travelodge Hotels Ltd, bought for £675m in 2006.

    The Tussauds Group, bought for £800m in March 2005. In May 2007 they merged The Tussauds Group with Blackstones Merlin Entertainments Group to create the second largest visitor attraction operator, after Disney, in the world. The Alliance Medical Group, bought for £600m in November 2007.

    Mauser AG (industrial packaging specialist), bought for £635m in June 2007. Doncasters Group Ltd (manufacturer of precision engineered components and systems), bought for £700m in May 2006.

    Owns ‘significant’ shares – estimated to be between 2 and 4 per cent – of HSBC, Sony, Daimler – Chrysler and ICICI Bank.

    Those figures were taken from the mirrors website.
    DIC have got to be better than the Cranks.

    Usa v DIC

    Tom Hicks owns:

    Ice Hockey team Dallas Stars, bought for £42m in 1995

    Baseball team Texas Rangers, bought for £123m in 1998.

    Hicks Holdings is the company that controls his sporting and real estate empire, worth over Û1billion (£511m).

    Has interests in fossil fuel drilling tools, a data services company and an Argentine pet food company.

    George Gillett owns:

    Ice Hockey team Montreal Canadiens, bought for £95m in 2000.

    Gillett Evernham Motorsports, bought from Roy Evernham in August 2007.

    Booth Creek Ski Holdings Inc, running a range of ski resorts across America. Northland Services Inc – a marine transportation company Great Northern Bank and Sierra Organics – a landscaping and gardening company.

    Dic own:

    Travelodge Hotels Ltd, bought for £675m in 2006.

    The Tussauds Group, bought for £800m in March 2005. In May 2007 they merged The Tussauds Group with Blackstones Merlin Entertainments Group to create the second largest visitor attraction operator, after Disney, in the world. The Alliance Medical Group, bought for £600m in November 2007.

    Mauser AG (industrial packaging specialist), bought for £635m in June 2007. Doncasters Group Ltd (manufacturer of precision engineered components and systems), bought for £700m in May 2006.

    Owns ‘significant’ shares – estimated to be between 2 and 4 per cent – of HSBC, Sony, Daimler – Chrysler and ICICI Bank.


  17. what a disgrace, hicks is the one with the big mouth. and gillet should speak up if he really disagrees with hicks. the yanks have made a laughing stock of us. they should do the best thing for the club and leave, noone at liverpool will trust them again, there lies, an d promises. and hicks is now hated more than the mancs, time to go ,and chase the dollar else were.

  18. I don’t think they’ll ever be able to come watch a match at Anfield again, someone might go and get a pop at them, and by someone I mean a number between 50 – 100 around the director’s box

  19. The silence from Rick Parry is deafening!! I think the DIC would finance the new stadium, give Rafa the money for players he wants, then sit silently and let Rafa get the results we all know he is capable of. Time for the yanks to go and stop making our great club the laughing stock of the entire football world…

  20. I think the yanks must Bugger Off…. they kill a great football club… maybe they should just stick to Rodeo shows… and Burger Huts …. Piss off Yanks

  21. I’m devastated at the way things are turning out, especially when it doesn’t seem that many weeks ago that we were banging the goals in at a rate of knots. The only thing to be grateful to Hicks and Gillett for is Torres, nothing more. Get them out, get DIC in, now. They’re undermining Rafa and it’s threatening to destroy our season.

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