Time to go George, Hicks and DIC want to talk

The sun rises again on Anfield for another day, and still no resolution to the ownership saga that’s been played out in the press for some time, in particular in the past couple of weeks. Every time we think we’ve got a breakthrough, a denial seems to be issued officially or otherwise and we are back where we started.

There are now so many versions of what is going on that it’s becoming extremely difficult to actually what really is going on. If you went straight to each of the three parties involved you’d get different answers. Newspapers reporting in good faith what their sources have told them are contradicting each other.

George Gillett has reportedly been offered a potential £80m profit to go now. Tom Hicks’ position seems now to be that he would accept DIC buying 49% of the club, with him buying a further 1%, thus seeing Gillett out of the club and Hicks getting control. That was considered to be his minimum requirement for some time, that whoever came in had to accept Hicks would be the majority shareholder, and Hicks would block any offers that didn’t allow this to happen. DIC were exploring the legal avenues to this, according to earlier reports, but now are said to be willing to accept the chance to buy the 49% maximum.

That now seems to be the key elements of what is happening. Various denials are being issued unofficially but the aggregate score seems to be an agreement between Hicks and DIC that a 51-49 split in Hicks favour would be acceptable in principle. What remains now is for Hicks and DIC to agree how their working relationship would pan out, any clauses to be added or taken away from any agreements, and the nitty gritty of whether a new holding company would be set up or if Kop Football would remain. The banks also need to agree to whatever steps are taken with regards the finance. And then there’s just one more sticking point, the one that should arguably be the shortest hurdle to face – the shortest man has to accept the bid.

Publicly George Gillett has given up on Liverpool FC. He’s no longer interested in how the club does. He wants to take his money and run having failed in his supposed plan of having a football club for his son to help run after he’s retired. Foster Gillett went back to Montreal some time ago, abandoning his post at the club, reportedly glad to get out of a city he and his wife didn’t like living in.

Gillett has supposedly still not accepted the potential £80m profit on offer. He arrived at Anfield 13 months ago, and the amount of work he’s put in since is hardly noticeable. If anything it’s noticeable for the mess it’s made of the club.

He promised Rafa would be backed in the transfer market and announced he had agreed a plan with the manager. He promised “Snoogy Doogy”, if Rafa wanted him, just before the Champions League final in May, tackily waving various pieces of paper currency around to emphasise his point. Rafa was angered by this childish stunt – there was a lot of talk and little action. Why was he being held up in getting the players that had been agreed with Gillett in “the plan”? As it turned out, Gillett was promising something that wouldn’t be delivered and “the plan” soon had to be amended. But whilst waiting to be told he’d have to lower his sights, Rafa’s anger saw him publicly say that things need to change at the club. According to strong whispers at the time, “the owners” were angry enough themselves to consider sacking him there and then. None of the whispers specified which owner it was, or if it was both owners, but after being strongly advised that the timing would result in a furious backlash they held back. The original thoughts over which owner was pushing to get Rafa’s head on a plate were all pointing at Tom Hicks, but now there is a strong feeling that Gillett was as strong – if not stronger – in his urge to see Rafa gone.

Most of this season went on without an appearance from Gillett at the club or at games at all, until he arrived in Europe in December to watch the Reds beat Marseille. There’s a suggestion, in hindsight, that he’d gone to that game so that he could start the process of sacking Rafa Benítez. Talks had already taken place with Jurgen Klinsmann by then, although it isn’t yet clear if he’d made a decision on whether to accept the offer. Liverpool had lost against Reading a few days earlier after Rafa had withdrawn key players at 2-1 down, knowing his future depending on the Marseille game that followed. It was the first defeat of the season, and came because Rafa was concentrating on the Champions League and keeping his job. Before the Reading defeat Liverpool had won five games in a row, scoring 21 goals, conceding just one and were unbeaten in the league. But Rafa already knew that Gillett was heading for Marseille. Hicks was only to arrive in Europe later in the week, to watch the Manchester United game and meet with Rafa for the long-awaited discussion planned to follow on from the “concentrating” press conference.

Why else did Gillett choose to go to the Marseille game alone? Was he not in unison with Hicks any more? Was he letting Hicks be the public bad guy (after all he never spoke about the Rafa issue in public after it started to hit the headlines) whilst he was the real driver of the efforts to get Rafa out? Maybe we’ll find out for sure one day, but given his current stance, the good of the club is low down George Gillett’s priorities.

There’s time yet for George to get off his sick bed and accept the deal, because reports now suggest a meeting in London is set for Monday between representatives of the Hicks family and DIC. The meeting is intended to allow the potential new partners to work out details of their working relationship. DIC are hardly likely to pump £200m plus into a deal and let somebody else have all the say. Some compromises must have been made at least verbally.

Hicks is due back at the spring training camp for his Texas Ranger baseball team today and no doubt the local press there will be desperate to see what they can find out about Hicks’ plans, because of course the possibility of a sale of part of his overall Sports empire hasn’t been ruled out yet. If the deal to join forces with DIC does come off, the need for that sale would be less urgent, but would not necessarily go away. So expect another perspective on the situation this afternoon UK time.

The current finance package has 16 months to run and if it isn’t replaced to coincide with Gillett selling out it will be in need of changing before the end of spring next year. Some reports have suggested that Gillett’s financial issues were the main reason that finance took so long to secure, and following this along it seems clear that a Hicks-DIC alliance would be capable of attracting far-better finance deals than the Hicks-Gillett partnership.  However some commentators believe that DIC see this as their opportunity to get more than 49% at a later date, feeling they can make it difficult for Hicks to get new finance so that he’s forced to sell part of his stake. That’s clearly an opinion as opposed to anything that has genuinely come from the DIC camp.

The Hicks camp are supremely confident of not only being able to get the club through the forthcoming period as the new stadium goes from drawings to reality, but to making the club seriously successful. That’s not just in money terms either; they make it quite clear that they see success on the field as a part of their plans for the club’s future.

The idea of Hicks taking 100% of the club appals the majority of the supporters. Confidentiality means that many of the negative events of the past year have been attributed jointly to both owners, and with Gillett cleverly deciding to keep quiet whenever something bad had to be said, Hicks has been painted as by far the worst of the two. He’s certainly not seen as any better than Gillett, and with the Klinsmann talks taking place at his holiday home, around the time he was publicly giving Rafa a dressing down, he’s just as unwelcome as Gillett.

But the idea of DIC taking over is just as appalling to another large group of fans. That group is far smaller, and far less vocal, but is still concerned that DIC may be no better for the club than Hicks and Gillett.

In reality we don’t know how the future will pan out under either DIC or Hicks, whether alone or in partnership. DIC could be worse than expected, Hicks better than expected. Certainly Hicks has a lot of work to do to convince most fans that he’s not going to leave the club on the brink of serious failure.

In fact neither DIC nor Hicks have publicly revealed what they would do as single owners of the club in terms of funding. Nor is it known how exactly the funding plans could be carried out under 51-49 split ownership. There’s a danger of assuming the worst from what Hicks could offer yet assuming the best from what DIC could offer, and that is quite a huge gap.

Protests show the current owners and also DIC that Liverpool fans will never be so trusting again, ever, and so are extremely important. DIC need to be sure their plans won’t see them protested at in such a way, their reputation is important to them and they don’t want it damaging through TV images shown across the world. Their plans better be good. It also reminds Tom Hicks that his new plans really have to be good if he’s to ever start winning the fans over. If he wins the battle, he’s got to get things moving as quickly as possible, announcing with honesty what it is he intends to do. Protests against Newcastle might just ensure that DIC and Hicks really are confident they can deliver.

Hicks has a massive uphill battle to win fans back, far more daunting than half-time in Istanbul , and may find it an impossible task. All fans are going to make their own minds up, but before we can get to any new stage in ownership we need to see George Gillett accept the reported massive bid, and get out of our club. Why’s he still here? He has no love for the club, no wish to help the club through difficult times.

So go George, go, and let us move on.

17 thoughts on “Time to go George, Hicks and DIC want to talk”

  1. I still think this is all negotiation, with Hicks looking to get the best deal possible. The only reason DIC would go for the 49% deal is because they know Hicks is under financial pressure and that sooner or later he will sell up. The fact that there are three parties involved is making this far too complicated and eliminating one of them, even as a minority shareholder, is progress from a DIC perspective. As I say, I think they are convinced that Hicks wants to sell – nay, needs to sell, sometime within the next 16 months. They say every cloud has a silver lining – all LFC fans should be grateful for the credit crunch!

  2. i never doubted the dic for a minute.. if you just do some googling you will understand the sheer financial muscle these guys have. they make roman look like an ant.. when they want to win, they spent billions of millions of dollars on race horses.. buying the worlds best players wont tickle them.

  3. Bottom line facts are: DIC have the money but Hicks has the say on who can buy the shares. Also the club needs to refinance their £350M loan in 16months & raise another £300M+ for the stadium.

    Therefore the I think the likely outcome would be that DIC would come in as a 49% shareholder & would loan Kop Holdings or the club the £700Mplus needed. If there is any default on this loan & Hicks couldn’t pay up, then DIC would simply take some of his shareholding in the future (thereby getting control of the club).

    If the club does make loads of money, then the loans get paid off, Hicks will keep his 51% shareholding, but DIC will make a lot of cash on the interest charged.

    It would be a “Win Win” scenario for all the owners, assuming DIC can agree a price with Gillett. Hicks won’t be able to raise the money for the stadium on his own or with Gillett, so he needs a deal like this.

  4. Gillett, Hicks or DIC are all business people with the intent to make money; until whoever owns LFC make high revenue from both the new stadium and world marketing sales of merchandise, we will not be spending the kind of money the fans crave.
    The best way to spend our time (as opposed to half time protests) as Liverpool SUPPORTERS is to get behind the players we have. The West Ham Fans chanted “where is your famous atmosphere?” Good question.

  5. While it’s good to be getting rid of one of the yankee double-act; I’m very depressed to think of Hicks gaining control of the club.

    Heck, if I were DIC, I’d be very tempted to hang fire and let the yanks sweat. Time is not on the side of Hicks and Gillett. Every premiership game involving the club, as well as those involving it’s close merseyside neighbour, must have the yanks reaching for the anti-depressants.

    Sweaty paws are gonna get even sweatier. If we should finish fifth in the permiership (and we do have some very tough fixtures to come), then what do the yankee duo do then? If we have no summer transfer budget, or heaven forbid they start to sell our top players, then things are just gonna get a whole lot worse, in double quick time. And let’s not even mention the little issue of finding a further 300 million quid to build the new stadium.

    It’s difficult to decipher what is going on. But the line of best fit, amongst all the various reports, is that Gillett is about to sell to DIC, Hicks won’t stand in the way of the sale, Hicks may even grab a further one percent himself.

    But if DIC are happy to get only 49%, then I’d imagine they must have a longer term plan in place (for getting Hicks out).

    Either way, our top priority is getting the new stadium built. The DIC access to ready available finance is gonna help get that underway. That is what we desperately need. It’s what Hicks desperately needed too. For once, we have similar needs.

  6. Jim B: “Nor is it known how exactly the funding plans could be carried out under 51-49 split ownership.”

    Exactly. This is the most important part as it is fundamental to the problem we have with Hicks.

    Forget Hicks’ (and Gillet’s) lying for a moment and the main reason I am personally so opposed to Hicks is because of the vulnerable state he is going to put the club in financially, as has been stated a thousand times before.

    If DIC do take a 49% shareholding, will they be able to buy the club in the way we want them to? i.e. Buy the club outright, therefore no interest payments?

    I’m sure there will be a very definite (and complicated) answer to this question but i’d be worried that it isn’t what we want. In other words, maybe the loans will remain.

    I personally, unless it can be proven otherwise, feel that Hicks retaining any sort of control other than a minority stake can be any good for our club.

    Expect it all to be resolved by the end of March (2009). lol.

  7. That should be…

    I personally, unless it can be proven otherwise, DO NOT feel that Hicks retaining any sort of control other than a minority stake can be any good for our club.

    Don’t worry, i’m not on the turn!

  8. Jim – you state in your article that “The Hicks camp are supremely confident of not only being able to get the club through the forthcoming period as the new stadium goes from drawings to reality, but to making the club seriously successful.” This sounds like exactly the sort of mindless horseshit Hicks was spouting when he first came in over a year ago. I’m sorry but this guy has brought nothing but debt, delay and uncertainty to the club from day one. The notion that he is somehow “getting the Club through” something is bullshit. I’m disappointed that after all the total lies this arsehole has told you would take anything he (or his PR machine) are says at face value. Hicks’s numbers have never added up which means there are only two possibilities. Either Hicks is too f*****g dumb to realize this or he’s just a cheap con artist. I personally consider the latter far more likely but neither is (or should be considered) an adequate explanation by the fans. Hicks is a cancer and I personally won’t rest until he’s gone completely from the Club.

  9. Anfielder – exactly.

    Hicks wouldn’t know the truth, if he tripped over it.

    He was at the same carry on down in Brazil, when promising in 1999 to build them a brand new stadium. The investment was a shambles and no stadium was ever built. His efforts at getting into the lucrative South American football market fell apart.

    Hicks takes far too many chances, in his efforts to make money for himself. IMHO The sooner he is gone, the better. .

  10. Good post by Craig. Anyone else care to speculate about what the outcome will be if its 49% for DIC.

    Billy you talk shit, its thanks to those supporters voicing their concerns that the current owners know they aren’t welcome. The chanting was done in a dignified manner at half time to minimise the effect it had on the players.

  11. FredThe Red
    Thoughts on DIC with 49%

    1. A 51% majority does not allow Hicks to block everything DIC want to do and does not allow Hicks to bulldoze everything he wants to do through. There will be a shareholder’s agreement and also the normal memorandum and articles of association of companies requires up to 75% majority for some issues.

    2. Hicks is in a weakening overall financial situation in the US. DIC will have paid over the odds for their 49% so they both have no choice but to build op the clubs value in terms of fixed assets (The stadium) and “walking assets” (The Playing squad) if they are ever going to see a profitable return.

    3. DIC are a stronger financial position and will be able to act as soon as Hicks wants out.

    4. It is unlikely that any Hicks/DIC agreement will be reached without a first refusal for DIC on Hicks’ shares.

    5. Hicks has a stadium design and the requisite planning permission in place. The fans generally like the design so there is a natural area for him to concentrate on. DIC are in a better position to put their nominees into the club (Amanda Staveley etc) so we will get away from management by email.

  12. Hicks won’t be able to pay for the stadium or raise the necessary from borrowing if the recession in the US economy bites deeper. DIC will in effect become his financiers as they will be able to both put up their half of the stadium cost and fund his. Hicks could be left with no choice but to either accept the dilution of his holding or sell.

  13. Anfielder – the point I was making is that they (Hicks) are making it known quite clearly that they are not at all worried about the forthcoming period of time until the new stadium opens. Remember TH’s “trying to fix it” comments? But all the signs (credit crunch, risk of finishing below 4th, high interest costs, etc) are that they should be worried, so why aren’t they?

    If it’s just bluster, being said to pump up their asking price, we’ll find out soon enough because they will eventually accept an offer from DIC.

    But if they really have got something that will win back the fans (and ticking over in 4th or even worse is not going to win over the fans) then we need an announcement, and soon.

    I have not seen one single fact that tells me they can win over the fans. To be fair to them for a moment, whatever this thing is that they are trying to “fix” is due to be “fixed” soon, but they can’t say what it is for confidentiality reasons. Fair enough, I’d not expect them to announce something that’s still under negotiation. But the minute it is “fixed” the need for confidentiality goes out of the window and it’s time for honesty. If they’re as confident of their plans as they make out, they’ll have no problems releasing the details in full and sitting in front of reporters and a selection of fans for a grilling. If they’re hiding something it will be spotted in no time at all. We aren’t pushovers any more.

    A year ago we took the “bullshit” at face value because we trusted David Moores to do the best for the club. Never again.

    At the moment everything we know is based on what each different party wants us to know. Soon we’ll have to be given genuine figures. That’s when those amongst our support who are experts in finance should be doing all they can to scrutinise the figures we’re given. Look for holes, for gaps, contradictions and the rest.

    My head’s literally been ready to explode of late, trying to decipher everything. And I’m not the only one, I know.

    One of the biggest issues for me has been that we’ve been lied to. That’s got to stop. If Hicks is to stay on board (as seems likely) he’s got to face us and be honest with us. As have DIC if (as seems likely) they get their hands on around half of the club.

    From the facts I have access to, the gut feelings I get, the experiences of the last year and so on – I can’t see how Hicks can get us to where we expected to be by now and take us to the new stadium in the way we expected. Hicks says he can, Jim says he can’t see how! What I’m saying is – “Prove me wrong”. I’ve not fallen for the PR and I don’t take it at face value. I also don’t stick my fingers in my ears and ignore it.

    DIC have also been using PR to get their points across, to help make sure we’ll accept them. It doesn’t mean anything they’ve said is false, but if they did have anything to hide then they’d use a PR firm to make sure they got the message out as it suited them. If they do get in, we want them to be just as willing to face a grilling from the press and fans as we expect Hicks to be.

    Sooner or later we’ll have a press conference and finally we’ll know the deals have been done. We’ll get the figures, we’ll have questions to ask, and if we get lied to, or the answers show an admission that we’re in trouble, we’ll protest louder than ever before.

    We can’t trust anyone, but we should at least listen.

    Thanks all for your comments again by the way.

    (Fingers crossed, but according to the grapevine, or various grapevines, we might just have had a breakthrough tonight, a first step if you like, but it’s all still very delicate.)

  14. Shame on those people who keep having a go at the fans who are determined to do anything they can to protect their club.

    At the end of all this if Gillett and Hicks are out of LFC then the fans who’ve demonstrated at games, joined Share Liverpool and Spirit Of Shankly, voiced their concerns on websites such as this should hold their heads up high. Without a doubt they will have prevented LFC going the same way as Gillett and Hicks’ hockey and baseball teams.

  15. Great news. But it may be a very big price to pay, to get Gillett out.

    I don’t want Tom Hicks to as much as step foot inside Anfield, farless have majority control of the club. He is the unacceptable face of greed.

    The sooner he is gone the better.

  16. Hicks needs to go and I think its only a matter of time now. DIC are determined and I certainly would prefer their investment as opposed to the americans for 2 very simple reasons. I think they want to see the club succeed as the head of their investments is a lifelong liverpool supporter and as well as this they certainly have the financial capabilities to finance our stadium and player needs for the future. Their plans for benitez though I am not so sure, by all accounts they want to remove him also and I dont think this is a good idea.

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