George Gillett, high-and-mighty in his condemnation of Tom Hicks last week, has shown how hypocrisy works Colorado-style. It was Thursday evening in the UK when Gillett came forward with his views on the Hicks interviews that had aired throughout the day on Sky Sports News.
“Here we are, a few days away from a vital Champions League semi-final match and Tom has once again created turmoil with his public comments. Tom should stop.”
It was already a hypocritical statement to make by the owners of the Gillett-Evernham NASCAR outfit. Gillett had created turmoil of his own the month before when he came out of lengthy hiding to tell the world he could no longer work with Tom Hicks, that he’d received 2000 emails a day from fans telling him how much they hated Tom Hicks, and that he’d had death threats warning him not to sell to Tom Hicks. He’d done it just two-and-half days before a vital league match that Liverpool had to win to make sure Champions League qualification for next season was in their own hands. So he was a fine one to talk.
But tonight the news has come out that, if true, will trump any of his previous actions.
According to the Press Association, the Canadiens’ owner has invited the leveraged-buy-out investment arm of Dubai Holdings, Dubai International Capital, to Anfield tomorrow night. Better known as DIC, they failed to exercise an exclusive right to buy the club in January last year for a little over £200m including debt, reportedly on principle, but are now trying to spend over twice that amount, with reports ranging from £400m-£550m as the price they will pay.
Tom Hicks was criticised for not coming to Anfield for the second leg Champions League quarter final against Arsenal, and although his son Tom Jnr was there on his behalf the Texan was attacked by many for the perception he’d put his Rangers baseball team first. Yet George Gillett’s presence was seen as somehow a positive.
When reports over the weekend filtered out saying Hicks would attend tomorrow night’s clash with Chelsea, there was more criticism of Hicks, because his presence would be disruptive. If he doesn’t attend he doesn’t care, if he does attend he doesn’t care. It’s hypocritical and distracts from the real issues fans have with his ownership, not all of which are of his doing.
The PA report says Gillett “has invited senior officials from Dubai International Capital to be his guests at Anfield on Tuesday for the Champions League semi-final showdown with Chelsea.”
For the second time in recent months, Gillett has pulled a sicky:”Although Gillett himself will not be able to attend the match because of illness, his party – including son Foster, a fellow director – will be there in force to welcome DIC’s representatives.”
The report was by Paul Walker, one-time alleged striker-off of Peter Crouch goals, who wrote: “It is a remarkable move by Gillett…” Remarkable is an understatement.
Walker wrote: “It is believed that DIC’s chief negotiator Amanda Staveley will be among Gillett’s party, along with Liverpool fan and DIC chief executive Samir Al-Ansari.”
Staveley has been talking to Gillett for some time, with reports in March claiming Rick Parry had also attended meetings in her office, but she seems to jump the gone somewhat. Prior to a meeting between representatives of Hicks and DIC in Dubai, she said: “All parties have now reached agreement, Tom Hicks knows that in the long run we will be 100 per cent owners of the club but we are prepared to play a waiting game.” But all parties quite clearly had not reached agreement. So why say they had?
Walker’s report also said: “”Hicks could also be there, although significantly his spokesmen in the UK have been unable to confirm the Dallas billionaire’s movements. Hicks had made it clear at the weekend that he intended to be at Anfield for the first leg of the Champions League semi-final – but there are now doubts that he would want to be in the same director’s box as DIC.” Whose doubts? Whoever tipped PA off over this perhaps? In fact it could be argued that Gillett has so far been the one avoiding certain people in the directors’ box.
Walker also repeated the latest rumour doing the rounds via the hands of DIC: “The problem over Hicks’ alleged veto of any Gillett sale is likely to be challenged in court before the summer.” Why would Gillett be prepared to see LFC’s name dragged through the mud so publicly. What is it that is really stopping him from selling to Hicks?
If this stunt of inviting al-Ansari and Staveley to the match is true then Gillett has made it clear his first concern is getting that profit from DIC, his second concern is getting one over on his enemy Tom Hicks. Any possibility that he cares about LFC is growing slimmer by the second. Yet some fans will still buy that as his reason for a refusal to sell to Hicks.
Bearing in mind that a large amount of the significant criticism of Hicks can also be levelled at Gillett, and in many cases should be levelled at Gillett instead of Hicks, it’s difficult to see exactly why Gillett can say his decision not to sell to Hicks is somehow out of love for the club.
DIC continue to be blindly accepted by many fans purely on the basis that somehow they can’t be worse than Hicks. Some fans actually believe DIC will definitely buy the club without using loans or other debt. DIC changed the wording on their website last year to hide the use of the words “leveraged buy outs” (LBO) when describing how they make their investments. They bought Tussauds for £800m in 2005, selling 80% of it for a £200m profit just two years later.
Has Gillett got the guts to come out in the open and explain exactly why he won’t sell to Hicks? And will that tell us why it is acceptable to invite such trouble to the ground on such an important night?
Although Tom Hicks was criticised for not being at that Arsenal match, many fans were hoping he would change his mind and not attend tomorrow night just to ensure Rafa’s men could play without distraction. But Hicks is hardly likely to miss the game now, and the most important match of the season so far will become a side-show.
Hicks has been criticised for attacking Parry on issues most fans agree with. The timing of the letter was attacked for being just after a big Champions League win. Hicks was criticised for his Sky interview, with it broadcast five days before this Champions League match.
All those who condemned him for his timing should also now condemn DIC and Gillett for theirs. Especially if, despite the players so far showing brilliant drive not to be distracted, Liverpool lose the game.