Hicks issues denial, but these differences must be ironed out

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has issued a statement in the wake of the stories in today’s press which had made fresh claims that Dubai International Capital (DIC) were close to a takeover at LFC.

Hicks’ statement reads: “Reports in the UK media that I am about to sell my stake in the Liverpool Football Club, or to invite DIC to examine the club’s books in preparation for such a sale – like other such reports planted in the UK press in recent weeks by parties with their own self-interested agenda – are absolutely and categorically false.

“The reality is that I am personally, professionally and financially committed to the club and its supporters and that I will continue to honour that commitment to the best of my ability now and in the future.”

It’s unlikely to be a coincidence that we saw these fresh reports the day after the sports pages had been full of the story relating to Tom Hicks Jnr’s visit to The Sandon on Saturday. As well as the negativity towards the club most of those stories contained, they also made it quite obvious that the Hicks family were from being desperate to get out of the club has had so often been suggested previously. After watching a league match at Anfield, the owner’s son had visited a pub in the heart of Anfield, mixing with supporters and talking fairly openly about the future before deciding to leave in advance of things turning nasty.  From there he went and met other supporters as part of a pre-arranged get-together and spoke some more. This was hardly the sign of a family who couldn’t wait to sell up and move on.

The more cynical could say that the visit to the match, then the Sandon and from there the Malmaison were all carefully-planned PR moments, but that’s not being exactly fair. Certainly the appearance at the match was going to attract the cameras, and the appearance at the Sandon was almost guaranteed to be fairly big news, even if only locally, but the third part of the day wasn’t intended to be publicised.

But the publicity was enough for the DIC PR machine to swing into action. At least three newspapers reported very similar facts, and although it’s not unheard of for papers to copy big stories from each other after seeing first editions, that wasn’t the case here. The report in the Telegraph, from David Bond, had a little more meat on it than the others, talking about deals being struck with banks, and Bond has been first to break stories relating to DIC before.

Analyse the Hicks statement and you can see how it can be made without actually contradicting all the days’ reports. For example, Hicks says: “Reports… I am about to sell my stake… are false.” This could be read as referring to “all or any part of my stake”, but that’s not what it says.  Today’s reports also suggested that there still hadn’t been an actual offer made, or a price agreed.

The statement also calls the reports false when they claim Hicks was about to “invite DIC to examine the club’s books in preparation for such a sale.” But being pedantic, it isn’t Hicks that would be inviting DIC to look at the books if Gillett was selling his half.

One thing that does seem certain is that the details in all of these stories has come directly from DIC or their agents, and Hicks isn’t such a fool that he can’t see through this: “Like other such reports planted in the UK press in recent weeks by parties with their own self-interested agenda,” his statement says. Certainly if DIC are looking to do business with Hicks, they seem to be going about it the wrong way, because this statement sounds like it was written by someone who is quite annoyed, to say the least.

Although it’s been pretty much an open secret since the finance deal went through, this statement further makes it clear that George Gillett and Tom Hicks are no longer working in partnership, and also that Gillett wants to sell up. The statement says “I” rather than “We” and there is no reply at all from Gillett.

Gillett may well be looking to sell, may have even agreed a price informally and be now allowing DIC to see the books before making a firm offer, but Hicks is not looking to go quite so quietly, quite so easily. DIC look like having to accept the fact that Hicks is going to be a partner of theirs if they do buy Gillett out.

If DIC and Hicks are to be partners, in whatever split it turns out to be, they really need to sort out their differences, because it was differences in opinion and differences in vision that played a big part in the demise of the Hicks-Gillett partnership. That demise sees Liverpool in effect a rudderless ship, with only the most basic of decisions allowed to be made by Rick Parry. Any big decisions can’t be made – Gillett and Hicks aren’t speaking to each other, so how can they agree on important choices relating to the club’s future? Sami Hyypia has spoken about his desire for a new contract, but who can actually offer him that? If the lawyers finally resolve Javier Mascherano’s situation in terms of his purchase breaching Premier League rules or otherwise and actually draw up a contract, who will sign that massive document? It’s a little early to be talking transfers now at the sort of level that requires the owners’ input, but deals can be struck now if all parties are willing, to take effect in the summer, but Liverpool haven’t got anyone around to get involved in rubber-stamping such deals.

And the renewal of player contracts or deals to make loan players permanent is actually tiny money when compared to the new stadium. It’ll cost £17m including wages to make Mascherano a Red for the next four-to-five years. It’ll cost far less to give Sami Hyypia another 12 months to make it ten special years. If those decisions can’t go through, what hope do we have of seeing progress on a stadium that could cost as much as £350m?

The sooner Gillett is gone the better, his attitude since the beginning of the year quite frankly stinks. He’s not shown any desire to be involved, to fight his corner or to help the club in any way. He’s called his want-away son back home again so he doesn’t have to deal with the people his father betrayed. The sympathy many fans had for him was probably unfounded in hindsight – his enthusiasm always seemed to be the greater of the two owners, Hicks always being more reserved, but this enthusiasm always seemed to accompany some promise that was never delivered. “Snoogy Doogy” was perhaps the most memorable example of Gillett’s enthusiastic bullshit, the bullshit that seemed to endear him to fans.

Gillett and his son have two seats on the six-man board, Hicks and his son have two also, and the remaining pair are taken up by David Moores and Rick Parry. A third of the board is in hiding. The rest might not be in hiding, but are still despised by a large majority of fans for differing reasons. And as things stand, the board aren’t able to act in a way that would get the fans back onside, back believing that the club is heading in the direction it should have been heading in originally.

Gillett has to go. Hicks isn’t looking like leaving, not at the sort of money DIC are offering. Whatever is happening between Hicks and DIC – and clearly something is happening – it’s time both parties worked harder to meet in the middle. DIC and Hicks look like being partners, they need to learn to get along with each other. Only then can Liverpool Football Club move forward and away from the mess of the last 12 months.

9 thoughts on “Hicks issues denial, but these differences must be ironed out”

  1. really, we need both to move on. they both lied to us, and they do not have the money, required, to help us progress. hicks is being greedy, noone at liverpool want him, ask his son. he should do the right thing and move on,if they want to have any respect from us fans, they BOTH should leave….

  2. Jim to be honest I think its too easy to read between the lines of a statement like this , twist things about a bit and paint a far glossier picture than what is in fact the reality of the situation.

    I do understand what you are getting at when you dissect certain passages but I do wonder whether at times like this fans write things that they would like to be true rather than the stark reality of the situation.

    For example Im referring to passages above such as (“Analyse the Hicks statement and you can see how it can be made without actually contradicting all the days’ reports. For example, Hicks says:Reports… I am about to sell my stake… are false.” This could be read as referring to “all or any part of my stake”, but that’s not what it says. ) I just think this is being very optimistic.

    Dont get me wrong i’m not having a go at you or your article , Your articles are always a good read and always incorporate both sides of the story. I suppose what im trying to say is that I believe Hicks’s statement today is pretty much true to its word. He has no deal with DIC and will fight tooth and nail to keep it that way. I dont think Hicks’s words were written with any hidden meaning.

    You are correct though it is glaringly obvious that Gilette is no longer in Hicks’s picture and the use of “I” instead of “we” highlights just how far their relationship has deteriorated.

    With Hicks being as adamant in his denials as his statement suggests I really do fear DIC will walk away from what seems like a never ending situation which will leave us further from a premier league title than we ever were under Moores.

  3. I think we’ve been here before and, sadly, for us: two into one doesn’t go.

    Hicks and Gillett does not work.

    And neither will DIC and Hicks.

    Evans and Houllier did not work even though they were trying to make it work. Someone had to be number one and Houllier won out in the end. The same goes here.

    Compromise in big business is a fallacy unless both sides have the same goal -and agrees that one side has the upperhand in terms of appointing employees, board members etc.

    Tom Hicks’ personality does not suggest he’ll be prepared to be a ‘Roy Evans’ and without a shadow of a doubt the same applies to DIC.

    So where are we, in my view – Hicks wants money, money money. DIC want a cheap – Gillett-like – deal. Hicks knows that DIC has money. DIC knows that while Hicks will play hardball he can only do so for so long.

    In the meantime, we’ll get more media/PR ‘initiatives’ like Hicks Jnr until Hicks Senior believes they’ve won a) the battle of wills with DIC to get more money or/and b) they’re in the driving seat with the fans to drive a higher bargain with DIC. Business is all Hicks is interested in and the more zeros the better.

    We must continue to get Hicks out – now that Gillett really is a ‘Dead Man Walking’. But we must also not lose the ‘battle’ with DIC – we must do all we can define their future relationship with the club/fans…..as much as this is possible!!!

    Jim, it’s been interesting reading the changing tone and direction of your articles in the last day or two. I think Hicks PR people – Financial Dynamics – has a way to go to earn the huge sums Hicks is no doubt paying them. And, Square 1, DIC’s PR people, need to start telling us what exactly DIC plans are for the club.

  4. If there’s any truth in the constant speculation regarding DIC, then without a doubt it relates to the Gillett 50%. Hicks has no intention of selling at the moment–in fact I would suggest he is still trying hard to acquire Gillett’s 50% himself. I think this is what he meant by ‘getting more involved’ a month or so ago.

    So now its all about whether Hicks can somehow wrest total control of the club. Ultimately its probably all about money but I suspect the price is going to have to be pretty high to get Hicks out. If DIC won’t pay it we could end up with Hicks owning the lot. Its a contest of wills; DIC aren’t going to be interested in paying a premium for LFC if they don’t get sole control.

  5. I think you are right to analyse his comments in the way that you have because, no doubt, those comments will have been deliberately altered by his PR people to political levels of specificity. It’s difficult for this reason to determine his exact intentions but it does look like he wants to stay involved.

    The question I would ask though is can he afford to financially? This question is tantamount to asking: can Liverpool afford Hicks’ stay financially? If Liverpool can make the interest payments, no matter how ludicrous they are, and at whatever cost to the club on the field, then he might just want to stay for the $$$. But i’m not sure that this is viable when you consider the massive future stadium costs and that achieving this seems dependant on European qualification. And what if we fail to make Europe and we have to meet £60 million in interest payments, then players have to be sold, etc. Which in turn creates a spiral of decline as we cannot qualify for Europe the following year.

    Then theres the issue of whether or not DIC and Hicks can co-exist. I don’t think they can – Hicks made a deliberate reference to them in his statement today and made it clear he is pissed off with them feeding the press with information for their own agenda. I know your article states that they would have to reconcile their differences but, in my own personal opinion, I dont believe that either has the motivation to achieve this.

    So if Hicks and DIC cannot co-exist and Gillett, by the looks of it, ceases to exist, and categorically wants out, then that means Hicks has to buy out the remaining 50% of the shares. But he can’t do that because he (or the club) do not have the financial capability. The result: a majority takeover with DIC making the decisions.

  6. If the reality is that Hicks couldn’t go it alone, then its just a matter of time, he’s got no choice other than to sell sooner or later. If there’s any way he could though, he will. He knows that LFC is a goldmine.

  7. Excellent articles, excellent work

    First of all if I interpret Midlands- red’s final pargraph correctly about the change of direction in these articles, it appears to me that there is a softening of opinion towards Hicks.

    Previously, the articles, no matter the subject matter, always managed to get around to some form of attack on H&G. To be honest the vitriol and venom in your words would be hard to disguise.

    There now appears to be a shift of that hatred towards Gillet only, maybe I am wrong. But from what I read it seems obvious, at least to me any way. The PR machine appears to be working.

    But anyway ..my comment. Hicks has stated that he is financialy committed to the club. Correct me if I am wrong but hasn’t the recent re financing moved all of the personal debts incurred by him on to the club, either directly or indirectly via KOP Holding. Where is this financial committment?

    Don’t fall for the spin…get Hicks and his silent partner out of our club.

  8. Martin, I agree with your post. It must not be forgotten when considering Hicks that when he was up against it he did cut and run and bankrupt,liquidate a South American football club.
    You have to ask yourself what kind of a human being we have here. Whatever his level of ignorance was about our club at the outset he must by now have realised the emotional attachment we have as fans LFC and the deleterious effect his duplicity and financial gymnastics is having on us and the club he claims to have a commitment to. His own son says he has caught the bug and is a brother red supporter yet this has no effect whatever on him and he relentlessly chases his own financial gain. He surely has enough financial security for his and his family’s needs so this is about power. Do the right thing man for once in your life sell up!


    Hicks is focused on an end game.

    How can he maximise the value of his shareholding whilst eliminating as much of the downside risk as possible?

    Clearly once the ground is built (and full each week) the business will be worth of alot of money. As Arsenal has shown. But the cost of getting there; the stadium and keeping a player roster that keeps liverpool in the CL each year is prohibitive.

    What he needs is a risk free and cheap way of getting to that prize.

    Gillett selling presents an excellent opportunity. Despite noises to the contrary he wont be buying Gillett’s stake. Too much financial exposure. He needs a partner. He needs access to additional financial strength.

    He wants DIC as a partner. He wants to sell a portion of his stake to cover his share of the future ground development costs (the extra £300m that is needed on top of the £350m). And if he can clear off the original loan even better. A 20% holding for free if you like. Or if he doesnt clear off the original loan a guarantee that as a minority holder he can still have access to his share of club surpluses/ revenues to pay his interest debt.

    He does not want to cash out now. He wants to get to the profitable end game. But DIC cannot walk away expecting to call his bluff. Hicks has a plan even with his disengaged partner.

    The plan would include a ‘fire sale’. Gerrard and Torres to go (£70m) would help eliminate the need for CL qualification for each of the next 5 years. Just maintain a presence in the Premiership and perhaps UEFA as a bonus. And rebuild once the stadium is in place.

    Parry who is on a £1m payment clause should his contract be terminated at any point for any reason is culpable of a crime against football. Liverpool is heading for meltdown.

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