Rafa hails “positive” talks on transfer plans

Rafael Benítez spoke today about the meeting he had with Tom Hicks and his son Tom Jnr at Melwood yesterday, and sounded very pleased with the outcome. Much will be read into what Rafa had to say, and how it clearly shows where his loyalties lie with regards the ownership situation. Except it doesn’t. He’s not being drawn in public one way or the other. He’s never said he’s felt in an awkward position when talking to Hicks, he’s never said he’s felt Hicks is the only option.

When Rick Parry received a letter from Hicks recently in which he was asked to resign, the reasons given included some that could easily have been written by Rafa. But these were long-term concerns of Rafa’s, going back to the days before the new owners arrived. In Rafa’s mind Rick Parry kept messing up his transfer moves, and although the Hicks letter was probably the first detailed public acknowledgement of the problem, it was well-known amongst supporters.

Despite the speculation over new ownership of the club, which is a two-way fight between DIC and Tom Hicks, time is ticking on and it is important to keep day-to-day business ticking over, which at this time of year concerns transfers. Rafa had mentioned after the Chelsea match that he wanted to talk with the owners and Rick Parry.

Today he said: “You know we have two owners and a chief executive. We need to progress – my responsibility is to prepare the squad for the future and to improve the squad. So, I had to talk to them. We have had a very good, positive, meeting.”

He was asked if he was given any hints about how the ownership situation might be resolved, but he said that wasn’t the point of the meeting: “Not really, we were talking about targets and things like this; this was the key to the meeting. It was good.”

He was asked if he’d spoken to them about the situation, but again wouldn’t be drawn: “We were talking about how the club must improve and progress because it’s important to sign the right players for the future. That was what I wanted to talk about.”

It was suggested to Rafa that fans felt progress couldn’t be made with the ownership situation as it is, but Rafa suggested this wasn’t a problem: “After the meeting we are trying to progress with some targets. It’s okay. Last week we were doing this and this week it’s the same. I think we will be stronger next season. You need to keep going if you want to improve. That is what is really important.”

To say relationships between various members of the Anfield management, from Rafa upwards, are strained is an understatement. Rafa himself is keeping quiet as far as his ownership allegiances are concerned, but there’s no point trying to pretend he’s best friends with Parry. The owners themselves stopped speaking to each other some time ago, but Rafa feels they’ve all got to pull together, and said Hicks agreed they should all speak: “We need to work together and he agreed we must talk together. If we want to go forward and sign players, we have to all work together.”

As a result Rafa is confident he can get the players he wants: “I do not doubt we will achieve those targets. I have a scouting department that is working and progressing. Now I have told the owners how we need to progress.”

Rafa isn’t talking about concerns over how transfers are going, he’s grabbed the bull by the horns and is determined the negotiations won’t be scuppered. Where the money’s coming from wasn’t mentioned, although the January refinancing deal did mention an amount of £45m being set aside for transfers and working capital, although there was no indication as to the split or how long it had to last.

If the money’s in place then there’s only one real obstacle, and Rafa is confident that’s been dealt with too: “Rick Parry will be working too, and if everyone works hard and we work together, it will be easier. Clearly, I expect agreement on recruiting players for the summer. We are ready now for going forward.

“Now we have had a meeting, we are in a better position. We need to think about our games at Birmingham and Chelsea, but we must also think about improving the squad.”

Rafa said co-owner George Gillett was kept in the picture: “George knows about what was said, everybody knows. Everyone has the same information.”

The two Toms had visited Rafa at Melwood on the day of the Chelsea game and – according to the Mirror the next morning – the “DIC PR Machine” had tried to claim to reporters that they had been turned away. Hicks was surprised to hear that tale, commenting on Tuesday: “I visited the manager at the training ground and we had a great meeting. We talked about a lot of things and it was a very positive, encouraging meeting. We have agreed to meet again to discuss the future and it is a very healthy situation. Rafa is happy and he wants to talk about where he is taking the club in the future. The talks were really positive, so I am surprised if anyone else is saying different. We plan to all get together and discuss the future and Rafa is happy with that.”

Embarrassingly for the “DIC PR Machine”, no doubt at this stage still enjoying the benefit of the doubt from many reporters, Rafa then confirmed in the post-match press conference that not only had he not turned Hicks and son away, he had enjoyed a short positive meeting: “We spoke about maybe having a meeting together, the owners and everyone. It was positive and just to say hello and arrange to meet. That will be a positive meeting. We will all be together. The idea is to meet with everyone. After the meeting if we have something important to say, we’ll say it.”

The “DIC PR machine” is nowadays spreading the word that Rafa would be safe under their ownership, but until George Gillett accepts their offer and Tom Hicks either allows that or loses a court battle, they remain outsiders as far as Rafa’s planning is concerned. Rafa has to focus on the current situation, with both Americans in joint control and Rick Parry in the CEO role. Rafa’s frustration with Parry played a part in the events that culminated in Jurgen Klinsmann being sounded out for the job of LFC manager. Talks in November with the German coincided with Rafa’s infamous “just concentrating” press conference, and it took some time before Rafa was really showing any genuine signs in public of having forgiven either owner.

That came late in February, at a time when George Gillett was still in exile. Rafa said of a meeting in December: “After the meeting we had, everything was clarified. The misunderstanding was clarified and after the meeting I have had the support of Tom Hicks.”

It was noted at the time that he’d only mentioned the name of Hicks, who keeping in constant contact: “Almost every week, not every day but before or after a game, he contacts me. He sends me e-mails saying ‘come on’, ‘well done’ and ‘you can do it’ – very positive. I e-mail him back saying ‘thank you’.

“He does it for different games. Before this game against Middlesbrough he e-mailed me saying ‘come on.’ Before and after the Inter game he e-mailed me. After Barnsley he said ‘come on, keep focused on the Champions League’ – he’s very supportive.”

He was also asked at the time if he’d had the same kind of contact from George Gillett: “No.” Or Foster: “I haven’t seen Foster Gillett.” And a quick mention of that November dispute: “I was not doing anything different; I was just trying to keep in contact with them through Rick. After the meeting, communication has been much better.”

He also wouldn’t answer questions on whether or not the supporters should continue the regular protests that were taking place: “I cannot say anything to our supporters in terms of what they must do or not.”

Rafa’s issue with Parry was far deeper than most people had thought, and in the wake of the Hicks letter to Parry and its revelations of these issues Rafa’s February words have a different light shed on them: “My relationship with Tom Hicks is good and I don’t have any problems because I’m professional. It was a misunderstanding and I think he understands now all the things I was telling him before.”

Rafa had been trying in November to bring an end to the lethargy that saw him miss out on Florent Malouda in the summer, but in November there were still conflicting versions of events being passed across the Atlantic. In effect it was Parry v Rafa, with Foster Gillett perhaps the only witness to the dispute. It seems Foster’s initial report to his father, and in turn Tom Hicks, favoured Parry’s side of the story, much to Rafa’s annoyance. The Klinsmann approach was intertwined with all this, and it seems George Gillett’s relationship with Rafa never actually recovered.

Rafa said in February: “I am a fighter. I have always been a fighter. So when we had the problems I was fighting. When everything was much better I was really focused. I like to do my job, I am a professional and I try to do my best – always.”

And when Rafa was asked at that time if he was worried Hicks might look to another replacement for him he couldn’t make it clearer: “I don’t have any concerns.”

Rafa wanted to stay out of any public discussions regarding the ownership situation even then: “I don’t know the situation, so I am trying to concentrate on football. The communication with Tom is through e-mail, it’s just talking about games or business for the future with players but nothing really serious because we go through Rick to do the other things – it’s just to support me and the team.”

As we come close to the end of the season that “business for the future with players” is obviously a priority, but Rafa’s work seems likely to ensure the ownership impasse doesn’t leave the club without the ability to move forward, even if only slightly, as the transfer window opens. If all concerned can act in a professional manner until George Gillett’s shares finally pass into someone else’s hands then it actually would, for once, see them all acting “for the good of the club” at the same time.

It gives Parry a chance to prove the criticism levelled against him was either unfair, or fair but a thing of the past.

It gives the club a chance to start a new season under expected new ownership with a happy manager.

It gives the fans something else to think about, the usual summer speculation over names being linked, and their merits or otherwise.

84 thoughts on “Rafa hails “positive” talks on transfer plans”

  1. There’s Rafa trying to bring the club together – calm things down and here you go, Jim. Your life must be quita trip at the moment:-)

  2. You don’t even have to win a championship every year to draw the fans. You just have to show you’re really trying.
    Tom Hicks

    Looks like he is really trying to show us he’s trying!!

    How you are falling for Hicks PR machine I don’t know. You seem to despise PR yet you haven’t criticised his PR machine in months now. What gives – can we please have a bit of balance – please. This is becoming a joke now and you really are pushing people away from this site!!

  3. Rafa walks on water. All hail the rafalution.

    You say you got a real solution
    Well, you know
    We’d all love to see the plan
    You ask me for a contribution
    Well, you know
    We’re doing what we can
    But when you want money
    for players this summer
    All I can tell is brother you have to wait
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
    all right, all right

  4. MR – Rafa’s happy, Tom Hicks is happy, Rafa’s not indicated George Gillett’s unhappy, Parry’s getting some praise from Rafa. All according to Rafa. Bit of background about how Parry’s role in the manager’s angry outbursts could have been underplayed, transfer funds must be available if Rafa’s happy, quick mention of DIC’s attempt to make everyone unhappy, Parry gets chance to show he can do his job with Rafa’s blessing, should mean DIC or Hicks don’t take over unhappy club, fans get something different to think about.

    I thought it was quite a happy post!

    Stephen – See above, but balance? If you approve of DIC’s “PR Machine” spreading a false story about Rafa turning Hicks away from Melwood then I’m sorry but I’m not sure how I can write the way you’d like! DIC need to have words with their “PR Machine” (as The Mirror dubbed it) about these claims. The “PR Machine” being mainly one person.

    I wonder how Rafa felt about the story being invented about him.

  5. Jim,

    You mentioned that the money for transfers might come from that 45 mil surplus negotiated in the previous finance deal. Next year, where will the money come from? Does this depend on how Hicks restructures the finance if he gets control? Is there a possibility that the following year there will be no significant money?

  6. Hicks has been using Rafa more than anyone in this whole debacle. Yes DIC are using PR but Hicks’ PR is so much more in your face yet you go on as if its not happening and he is just a straight up guy who wants to do well for the club. You need to wake up!! DIC don’t own Liverpool FC but Hicks does and quite frankly the man is a disgrace.

    What has Hicks done for this club in 15 months??

    Name 1 (thats all – 1) good thing that he has done for this club? Surely, you manage that Jim

  7. I wonder how Rafa felt about the story being invented about him

    I wonder how he felt about Hicks going behind his back and meeting Klinsmann in his own home. Or how he felt being told to shut up and coach the team. Or how he felt when the promised transfer budget didn’t materialise last summer, or Hicks continuing to email Klinsmann with transfer targets.

    Rafa, has been outstanding in this whole affair and deserves better than you are any one else dragging him into this.

    It is very easy for Hicks to promise money this summer – its already there – the borrowed £45 million sitting in Liverpools account. As martin says its next summer we need to worry about.

  8. A very quick preliminary thought on Jim’s article…

    If the story that broke a couple of weeks ago about Torres and Babel being bought with borrowed money turns out to be true, where is the money for Rafa’s new transfer targets going to come from? If money had to be borrowed for last summer’s signings (and what about for Skrtel?) then doesn’t that undermine the credibility of a £45m surplus waiting to be spent?

    The “don’t count your chickens…” adage comes to mind – Hicks could promise Rafa the moon at this point, but his ownership status is by no means clear and frankly there is little to hold him to his word apart from promises made when stakes for the popularity contest are at their highest.

  9. Perhaps I have my cynical hat on at the moment, but Jim, this could have easily been a well drafted party political broadcast for Hicks.

    I sense that slowly you are releasing snippets of why you are, to put it mildly, re-valuating your stance.

    Lets not be fooled by what is going on…..this is election season and everyone wants to get Rafa onside.

    One other point which has been made on countless occasions. Parry is being made a scapegoat in all this for all the wrong reasons. He has his faults but this was well known from the outset of the new ownership. Why wait until now?

    Julie..my view is that purchases would normally not be paid in one installment and in this respect, my feeling is that a substantial amount from the pot will remain unused.

  10. You’ll all know my distrust and dislike of Hicks but…

    Do we all agree that we trust Rafa to do what’s best for the club?

    Do we all agree that Rafa has more knowledge of off the field events than all of us?

    Do we all agree that (on the face of it at least) Rafa seems to be throwing his support towards Tom Hicks?

    And do we all agree we find this contrary to what we would have expected to be the case after Rafa’s famous ‘training and coaching’ speech?

    A few months ago I would’ve seen his support of Hicks as being insincere, perhaps a way of maintaining job security. But he has that in spades now, so if Hicks is so negative for the club, and we know that Rafa has us in his heart, then why is Rafa clearly saying that things with Hicks are ‘positive’?

    I’m not throwing my support towards Hicks, but this is a difficult question to answer. Perhaps Benitez has forgiven Hicks? Or believes that Hick’s future plans are solid? Or Maybe he isn’t in support of Hicks at all and it’s all a front?

    Just questions, not intimations or statements before you lambaste me!

  11. Martin, the £45m: “Where the money’s coming from wasn’t mentioned… £45m being set aside for transfers and working capital, although there was no indication as to the split or how long it had to last.” That’s my point. The finance was over 18 months, there’s nothing to tell us how that £45m is split, or if there were plans for raising funds for next year’s transfers or if this had to be spread over 18 months.

    It’s the only place I can imagine any money coming from, because I can’t see Gillett putting extra in now, or him letting Hicks put extra in (if he wants to or not).

    I would hope that Hicks’ new plans include provision for transfers, as I’d hope DIC’s would.

    Stephen – name one good thing. So you can shoot it straight down? Torres? (Pah, with borrowed money). Better stadium plans than we thought we’d see? (Pah, had to downgrade them, still no planning permission). Got key players on new contracts? (Pah, that’s the least he could do).

    I don’t agree with “Hicks has been using Rafa”. And some would have you believe it’s the other way round. Rafa can look after himself, don’t you worry.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, so DIC’s decision to spin that yarn on Tuesday still needs answering.

    But if Rafa is now happy, as by many accounts he is, with Hicks, does that not suggest he’s forgiven Hicks for his part with Klinsmann? That he’s found out reasons that might not be perfect excuses but are good enough not to get stuck with a bitter grudge? If so the “shut up and coach” stuff is tied in.

    The “promised transfer budget” is something I need to go back and look at again. But again, if Rafa’s let it go then shouldn’t we? Or do we not trust Rafa’s judgement?

    This “or Hicks continuing to email Klinsmann with transfer targets.” You should read up on that again. The only target mentioned AFAIK is Skrtel, who Parry went to meet on January 5th, so any email to Klinsmann must have been before that. Rafa met with Hicks et al on December 16th. At the most that alleged email must have gone to Klinsmann two weeks after that meeting. I don’t think anyone thinks the bridges had been rebuilt so soon. Hicks had heard a different version of events on December 16th than he’d heard before. It’s up to Rafa, but I’d probably have spoken about this, then let it pass. It seems he has.

  12. Quick reply Julie:

    Paul Eaton 19 April 2008
    Rick Parry today rejected claims in The Times newspaper that Liverpool would be forced to sell Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel.

    “The story in Friday’s Times newspaper was garbage,” said the Reds’ chief executive.

    “I want to make it clear in the simplest and most straightforward terms that the purchases of Fernando and Ryan were funded in the same way as every other transfer.

    “The scope for any other interpretation is nil.”


    We actually made a profit in the January window, excluding Mascherano. We got Skrtel for less than we took in for Momo. The refinancing came after that.

    And the Mascherano transfer is a story in itself. So many mixed messages on that one I’m not going there.

  13. Jim, unbelievable!!!!! You actually can’t name one good point of his tenure. Not one. Yet you go on as if he is the best Liverpool can hope for. If you name one thing that Hicks did i will not shoot you down. If he did it he did it i can hardly argue.

    Lets see what were we looking for when Hicks took over – Stadium, wipe out debt and money for players. None of which arrived – in fact it has gotten a hell of a lot worse – as YOU say what happens if we don’t qualify for the champions league under Hicks??

  14. Jim, 45 Milion….

    Fair enough, I should’ve taken the time to actually read what you were saying. However the question still remains as to where the money is going to come from and how? (rhetorical)

  15. Raju – You’re entitled to wear that hat. I have a similar one myself.

    I doubt everyone wants to get Rafa on side. But Hicks and DIC do.

    When I first heard claims Rafa was very supportive of Hicks I didn’t believe it was anything much more than self-preservation whilst waiting for the (DIC) cavalry to arrive. At that time I was still falling for the claims Hicks would be forced to sell and so on. Maybe it is still self-preservation, but I believe that he is genuinely willing to work with Hicks for the long-term, that he can get resources he’s happy with. It doesn’t mean he’s taken sides. It means he’s accepted Hicks as an option.

    Election season isn’t as bad as this.

    I don’t think Parry’s faults were known by the owners from the outset. Who would have told them? David Moores? No. Rafa? If Rafa said stuff against Parry who would new owners believe? The CEO or the manager? Other directors (or former directors who still get their perks in and around the boardroom)? The fans? “Don’t all fans moan about CEOs?” would be the likely defence.

    What if it took until the end of December for the faults to truly become apparent? I’m not saying it did, just saying it could.

    Martin – good points to ponder.

  16. I thought he named 3 stephen?! lol, just kidding.

    Would Torres have arrived if it wasn’t for Hicks, borrowed money or not?

    The 20 million net spent last season was an absolute joke though considering how much we should’ve had to spend, so perhaps he would’ve arrived anyway, and without borrowed money.

  17. Stephen – predictable!!! 😉

    Jim, unbelievable!!!!! You actually can’t name one good point of his tenure. Not one. Yet you go on as if he is the best Liverpool can hope for. If you name one thing that Hicks did i will not shoot you down. If he did it he did it i can hardly argue.

    I named three, and predicted your responses. But he’s not the best we can hope for. He’s one of two choices. I don’t know which one is best. Partly because DIC are wary of giving too much away in public and are saying different things to different people in private.

    Lets see what were we looking for when Hicks took over – Stadium, wipe out debt and money for players. None of which arrived – in fact it has gotten a hell of a lot worse – as YOU say what happens if we don’t qualify for the champions league under Hicks??

    New stadium – yes. We could have had the Parry Bowl, they went for the new version, made a mess of announcing it without pricing it up, now the latest version is close to a decision on planning. Work would start August or September.

    Wipe out debt. Not sure that was ever what we were looking for. But because we didn’t listen properly it’s what we thought we were getting. But all we got was debt moved to one side and made bigger. As we would have with DIC. If we didn’t want to be purchased with debt included then the only other option was to stay with Moores as owner.

    And Moores had already had to lend the club £10m for Dirk Kuyt because the club wasn’t making enough money. When you think about it, the club borrowed under David Moores’ tenure to buy a striker, but nobody complains. It still owed it back, even if it was interest free (was it?) And why wasn’t the club making enough money?

    Players. Torres again. I’ve not mentioned Babel either. Or that list of players for the future. Arbeloa. Lucas. Big contracts for key players so they didn’t leave under this rule where you can buy yourself out as you near the end of your deal. (£100k a week for 5 years is £26m). It’s not nice to think of all the debt, but it’s nice to think of all these players.

    Without borrowing, we’d not have even had Kuyt, pre-takeover. The issue isn’t the borrowing, the issue is whether we can pay it back.

    If we can close those revenue gaps on other top clubs we should be able to easily.

    Remember this from Gerrard?

    “Torres has all the attributes to become firmly established as world class,” said the Liverpool captain, who was nine when the club last won the title in 1990. “Some of the other players we’re being linked with excite me too. It’s great to see us looking at young, hungry players with their best years ahead of them.

    “Since I’ve been in the first team I can’t remember us making such a major statement of intent in the transfer market as this. In recent years it’s only really been Manchester United and Chelsea buying players around the £20m mark, so it’s great to see us able to compete for players of that kind of value.

    “The Liverpool board has always backed the manager and we’ve invested heavily over the years. Roy Evans and Gérard Houllier spent a lot of money, but we have all been looking to that extra step to close the gap and attract the kind of players United and Chelsea would be able to afford.

    “This is the first summer in a long time we’ve been able to do that. I’ll bet players and fans from other clubs have been looking at us and thinking: ‘Aye, aye, Liverpool are making a move for some of the big boys now.”

  18. Liverpool have agreed to sign either a Swiss or an Austrian defender for a club begining with the letter B can’t rember to many details, think I was listening on the radio.

    As far as next seasons transfere kitty, well that will come from the new TV rights.

    Anyone watch this is Anfield tonight because I was the first caller. You can have autographs if you wish.

  19. ” When I first heard claims Rafa was very supportive of Hicks I didn’t believe it was anything much more than self-preservation whilst waiting for the (DIC) cavalry to arrive. ”

    Jim – I don’t think Rafa gives a monkeys to be honest. He will want who will support him the most in the transfere market. That is the top and bottom of it. It will only affect Rafa on the transfere front.

  20. Liverpool have reached a pre-contract agreement with Swiss international right-back Philipp Degen, according to reports. He is a defender from Borussia Dortmund.

  21. Jim – To be honest with you I think the only reason Rafa is here is because of the fans. If it wasn’t for the fans then I think Rafa would have thought sod this. I think he is also here because he has started a job and he wants to finish it. As for DIC, Hicks and Gillette he probably gives them the finger when they’re out of the room.

  22. Anthony,
    that’s a good point you make in relation to Rafa. I’ve been thinking about that one for awhile. I really do believe that he is intent on winning the premiership.

    He has set it as a personal goal or project. Yes he wants it for the fans but also for Rafa. The guy’s a winner.

  23. Probably spot on there Anthony. Plus his wife is happy enough here to allow him to spend so much time at work, daughters love it here.

  24. Jim, as you had consistently stated over the months Liverpool generated more than enough money from the Champions league runs over the last few years to more than easily afford £20m to be spent in a season. Hicks buying Torres is real crap and you know it. Would Hicks have allowed the banks money (repaid by fans) to buy torres if Rafa didn’t sell Bellamy, Cisse, Garcia, Gonzalez etc.

    Why was Rafa upset with HIcks in the summer over transfer fees when Liverpool got massive income from Champions League, biggest ever TV deal for premiership and massive player sales. These three figures alone dwarf anthing we spent on players yet Hicks is getting the credit for buying Torres. Wake up and give us a break.

    We don’t have a new stadium, fact. Where is it?? Promises mean very little when they are constantly broken.

    I’m still at a loss from your answers what extra Hicks has brought to the club?? More debt, no new stadium and no extra commercial activity that I can see e.g. where are the 12 – 15 new sponsors!!

    Would you give up on the Parry Bowl, the idea was scrapped years ago. It was never going to happen – nobody was ever going to build it.

    Are you telling me when Hicks took over the club and identified the potential improvements needed in the commercial end and the unbuilt stadium fiasco that he didn’t feel that they were not in some way the responsibilty of Parry, the CEO?? Did he not even know it after 1 month, 2 months, 5 months , 1 year!!! No, he only discovered it when Parry stopped him putting £350m of debt directly on the clubs books and safely away from his assets.

  25. ‘What has Hicks done for this club in 15 months??

    Name 1 (thats all – 1) good thing that he has done for this club?’

    What about:
    – Sanctioned purchases of Fernando Torres, Ryan Babel, Lucas Leiva, followed by Martin Skrtel and Javier Mascherano. All first team players, all at this stage very good signings. The team has clearly taken big strides already since the Americans came in, however the purchases have been funded.

    – Identified and publicly pointed the finger at Rick Parry for being totally self-interested and bone idle. Pity Gillett is preventing that little problem from being sorted out.

    – Constructively worked with Rafa post Klinsmanngate to the extent that they now seem to have quite a good and even unusual working relationship. Its almost as though Parry has been pushed to one side and you have manager and owner working together quite closely. And it does seem to be effective. Rafa seems happier these days and the team is generally playing better, IN SPITE of all the off-field dramas.

    I’d say those were signs of some pretty good leadership from Hicks. Imagine what he might be able to achieve if he got full control!

    Martin – well said re Rafa and Hicks. I think those are very good observations.

  26. If Hicks is to be given credit for bringing in Torres and Babel, as well as for better stadium plans, then by extension the same credit is due Gillett.

    I’m with Stephen on this, though – the stadium is in limbo, so plans are still for a dream, and work for bringing Torres and Babel to Anfield would have commenced before G&H arrived.

    Jim: thanks for posting the article where Parry denies the story about Torres and Babel being bought with borrowed money. Considering how often you cast aspersions on Parry’s trustworthiness, it seems ironic you would use quotes for him as a source of rebuttal.

  27. Slightly off-topic, but…
    This is an article appearing in today’s Toronto Star (a reputable daily newspaper) about the possibility of Maple Leaf Sport and Entertainment buying an English football club:

    There’s some relevant discussion about why such a purchase has become a more popular investment and money-making prospect for North American sports conglomerates, one rationale being: “A common recipe for success in the sports industry is buying a franchise that plays in a decrepit arena or stadium, building a new one and realizing newfound revenue from the sale of personal seat licences and increases in prices for season tickets and sponsorships.”

  28. Julie, I was actually taken aback by the Parry denial. I looked for carefully chosen words and there seemed to be none, but that last sentence was almost a message to us all not to doubt him!

    As for the amount of spending available, extra quotes have appeared from Rafa:

    “If you want to win the title, you must spend millions and millions,” Benitez said. “It is not easy, so the key is maybe to sign the players that you need and the players that will make the squad stronger. Then you have to try to progress with those players. How much have Chelsea spent in the last five years? If you want to go to that level, you need to spend millions and millions, but nobody can guarantee that players costing £20m will settle down.

    “If you need to write on a piece of paper, I could give you the best pen in the world. But maybe you don’t need that pen for the paper.”

    Is Rafa trying to tell us his transfer spending will be on the low side?

  29. i think Hicks should welcome DIC then they seat together they can work togther all along Hicks had good plans for LFC but he had a wrong partner Gillet.. whom i think was either broke or is a poor CEO…with Hicks and DIC I we can revert back to the original stadium plans which Gillet dismissed as expensive and we can acqiure the best players in the market we should be talking of peole like Mondric,Rafina<Ronaldino,David Villa,Lahmn and Maxi Lopez

  30. Jim,
    Thanks for the article, that was good and balanced and more of the ”former” Jim we used to read here..

    Rafa seems very happy and that has got to be the most important thing right now, let’s worry who owns the club once the season is finished.

    As for spending last year, we can’t defend or praise the owners. Except maybe for tying up key players for long contracts, gerrard, carra, pepe.. It’s great we got Torres and
    Babel but Rafa was frustrated and had to wait and wait.. ”The owners are in the different timezone there’s nobody who can write the cheques”..Maybe that was the reason we
    lost some targets not Parry’s inability to do his job? I think every single Liverpool fan was dissappointed we didn’t buy more quality players last summer. The net spend
    20m was a joke when you compare it to other teams, man utd, city, portsmouth, spurs, even sunderland spent more money than us. Yet that was the summer we should and were expected to spend heavily.
    Where did money to buy Heinze disappear? Why Rafa couldn’t buy Kaladze when he wanted to? Also i have been suprised by some of Rafa’s comment’s about transfers, What was this meant to be in the Guillem Balaque interview?
    ”Now we can spend money on players if we can earn some by selling players. If we don’t have the 500m chelsea spent in recent years, we have to look to lay the foundations in the youth teams and reserve teams and build from there”

    Does that sound a little bit different to what we were expecting from the owners, or after the athens..

  31. The Independent at it once more (this time by Ian Herbert) again stating that DIC will take over the club within 2 weeks (presumably they mean Gillett’s share). Also interesting to see Tom Hicks meeting Rafa on his own and playing his usual authorative role when he’s outvoted 2 to 1 on the board. Presumably he let Rafa into the secret of how he was going to fund these new signings and remove the club’s debt at the same time. In addition to everything else the man’s a magician.

  32. Thanks Jussi – I mentioned above Rafa’s now saying something that sounds like he’s accepted having to make do and mend, so to speak. I might be reading too much into it, but his talk of how £20m players might not settle sounds like he’s not got the cash to try. Those quotes weren’t around earlier in the evening.

    Not to defend Hicks in any way until I’ve checked the quote, but I remember there being a mention of getting a better youth recruitment policy underway. This was said pretty early on. What I would like to check is how that was worded, I’ve a fear it should have warned us all we weren’t going to be buying Eto’o…

    I can remember questions about transfer funds always being met with “we’ll support the manager” rather than anything like a ball-park figure, or a commitment to outspend anyone else. We expected that. We don’t seem to have got that. As I’ve said before, it’s hard to get transfer fees right, so we can’t be sure about net spending, but I don’t recall seeing it worked out anywhere at over £25m, even in the most anti-Rafa articles (which is where such figures usually get most exaggerated).

    The Heinze money question is interesting, we’re talking a million quid or so difference I think aren’t we? (Between him and Skrtel). Mascherano’s deal is one that I can’t get to the bottom of really.

    If you remember it was quoted as £18.5m or £17m, with or without the first year’s loan included. And some of it was said to be wages, for the four or five years (I can’t remember how long the deal ran for in the end, and if it included that first year). I suppose the wages part comes out of a wages budget, which Momo is no longer included in. But what about the transfer fee part? Did we need the money left over from Heinze, plus the money from Momo, to fund both Skrtel and Mascherano?

    That theory only makes sense if the actual funds had to be placed somewhere or other before the refinancing was done, in my opinion, but it’s one to think about.

    Jofrad – I see your point, don’t worry about that, but GG would have been able to attend if he hadn’t been ill, and Foster too if he’d not been absent for some unexplained reason. Also we don’t know if Parry was invited and decided not to go, or just not invited.

    To be honest Parry should have been there. At the very least they should have set up a conference call at some stage. Nobody could complain at being left out then.

    As for funding these signings well unless GG’s agreed to sell to TH I don’t think there’s going to be any secret as such. TH, GG and Rick Parry will know how much is there, because I don’t see a way of anything being added prior to a fresh takeover.

  33. Jim,
    You can’t blame Parry for not being present at the meeting with Rafa. If TH wanted him there he would have been there. TH can’t call for his resignation then call Parry to a meeting with regard to the future of the club.

  34. Sorry, I’d not included the part of Rafa’s quote that really stood out from the later versions of the interview:

    “I’m sure we won’t need too much [money]. Our squad is much better now and we maybe need four or five players, but we will not need to spend big, big money.

    “If you want to win the title, you must spend millions and millions. The key is maybe to sign the players that you need and the players that will make the squad stronger.”

    Sounds to me a sure sign he’s accepted (happily or reluctantly) that his budget isn’t through the roof.

  35. Jofrad
    You can’t blame Parry for not being present at the meeting with Rafa. If TH wanted him there he would have been there. TH can’t call for his resignation then call Parry to a meeting with regard to the future of the club.

    I’m not blaming Parry don’t worry. I’m saying he should have been there. If he wasn’t asked, then that’s wrong. If he was asked, then although it’s understandable it’s still not acceptable really. A compromise would have been to stick a chaperone or two in there, maybe Rafa’s and Parry’s secretaries to take the minutes.

    This could be over in weeks, or could drag on all summer, so they’ve got to find a way of working round it. Even Rafa said that.

    I heard / read that GG was going to try and be over for the second leg, it might not be a bad idea for TH, GG, Parry, Rafa, TH Jnr, Foster, Moores, all to set themselves up for an extra night’s stopover. Alex Miller can take training. Invite some from the scouting department if necessary.

    We don’t actually know what the hold-up is on the takeover, if it’s even reasonable to predict 2 weeks, or to claim May 27th deadlines. But Rafa needs to be getting those early negotiations under way unless it’s already 100% certain where the ownership saga will end.

  36. In my opinion, the Americans ownership since taking over has been a complete shambles.

    That’s not to say it couldn’t get better under Hicks (although i am anti-Hicks). However, I find it hard to believe how people can defend Hicks. He, along with GG has put the club in turmoil, MULTIPLE times during this season alone.

    Their disputes seem petulant and childish. Using ‘exclusive’ media interviews to slander their co-workers. I don’t particularly thank Hicks for signing Torres and Babel, but George Gillett must take just as much praise surely?

    I can’t believe people are trying to defend the ownership, it’s been terrible, let’s have a little look at the timeline….

    In their 14 months as owners, they promised us a new stadium, and also promised a spade would be in Stanley Park within 30 days of their takeover….DISASTER.

    Then there was the Athens debacle, it took a seething Benitez to almost flip his lid over transfer funds post-defeat. Nobody really knows the details but obviously things were not going smoothly at the top.

    Not too long into the season before transfers again came to the forefront. Rafa, disgusted with the progress of the Mascherano deal (and it would be ridiculous to JUST blame Parry) came out again begging for it to be sorted. Hicks accused him of ‘pouting’ and told him to ‘shut up and concentrate on training and coaching his players’. This is again was a disgrace, putting the club in the spotlight.

    Then there was Klinsmanngate. Rumours going round that Klinsmann had been approached were initially quashed, even Klinsmann denied it. Which was the right thing to do, keep things out of the public domain. So Hicks thought it would be the right time to come clean (mid-season) and admit that another manager had been approached because he was worried about paper reports Benitez was off to Madrid. Stupid mistake.

    So George then decided to run away and build his army, not to return until March.

    In the mean time there’s all kinds of PR games going on from DIC and Hicks, Gillett stays silent, but things start to go quiet and we learn that DIC could be in within weeks.

    Unfortunately that all collapses, DIC jumped the gun and Hicks comes out firing. He slams DIC, and states that he WILL be owner of the club. Okay, so thanks Tom, the fans love you so much we want you to stay….

    After a ‘short holiday’ George is back, like the Terminator, and he’s desperate to get a good rapport with the fans. Unfortunately many fans fall for this and think he’s just interested in the best for the club. Wrong, he wants lots of money and none of this British nonsense.
    So he decides to admit that he wants to sell, and that he’s completely fell out with Tom. Great news, the chances of our club being passed on have been shattered due to their pride. But anyway let’s carry on…

    So things have gone quiet again…Liverpool are getting to a crunch time in the season, we’ve won 7 games on the run and are ready to seal 4th. Things couldn’t be looking better….oh wait, Tom has something to say. It seems it’s a perfect time to ask the CEO to resign and slander him in the media, putting the club into turmoil again. So now we all find out that Parry is the real baddie in this, pointing fingers is a great way to pass the buck in this game.
    So there’s mayhem in the media now….

    Within a week, Liverpool once again is a soap opera and the laughing stock of the footballing world. Parry appears in the press looking like a lost puppy and everyones disgusted at Tom. So Tom decides to stage a world exclusive interview with those fair and honest people at Sky…(lets not forget Tom’s good friends with a certain Mr Murdoch who of course is a Liverpool lover).

    So we all wait for this interview, and we all come out of it knowing nothing new, and merely cringing at what was a terrible attempt at politics. Nobody will forget that shiny mug and those sleepy kids.

    Inevitably George wants the last word, and comes out shaming Tom and saying he’s a very naughty boy. Yes George, we know that.
    So just to make things better, and to help calm the fans, both owners decide to interchange their visits to matches, publicly appearing soon after eachothers respective public outbursts.

    Our last port of call is the Chelsea game, George decides to invite DIC as executive guests, DIC are present at a lot of Liverpool games, but this time they’ll be stuck in the same room as Tom’s gang. Hicks decides to have a go at YNWA and we all laugh at his attempts, maybe he wants to be the new Mike Ashley?

    So…that’s all i’ve got….I’ve missed out some lesser infringements but my general point is, to defend their ownership and put ANY praise at all on it is a sin.

    Sanctioning money for Lucas, Skrtel and even Babel is not worthy of praise, this is the MINIMUM expected from them, they did come here to do that job, and they shouldn’t be praised for ‘doing their job’. They are not heroes.

    It is not hard to come out and say ‘this is our last public message: do not believe what you hear in the papers about DIC, we are working together in private’.

    That is all that is needed, eventually things would die down. Our club is being used and abused, and that is the main crime here. No one is innocent.

    Hicks does not deserve our respect, he certainly does not deserve our praise, you must earn those things, and he has not done that, shame on those who give him it.

    Gillett does not deserve our respect, fans must not fall for his good guy image, he’s a wolf in sheeps skin. He wants money, and he wants to bail out. The mere fact he wants to go away is his only redeeming factor.

    DIC do not deserve our respect, what have they done for us? Ever? They had an excellent chance of taking us over, but walked away as a matter of stubborn pride, now they circle above us like vultures.
    Maybe they will be good owners and WHEN they leave us, they will leave us in a healthy position. But do not treat them as heroes or saviors, they haven’t proved anything to us yet.

    Okay, i think I’m done now…
    Sorry about the big post but all this ‘taking sides’ thing is just nonsense, there should be only one side, Liverpool Football Club. All current other parties are damaging us, every week.

    In Rafa we trust.

  37. “DIC do not deserve our respect, what have they done for us? Ever? They had an excellent chance of taking us over, but walked away as a matter of stubborn pride, now they circle above us like vultures.”
    Oh come on, DIC were shit on M&P who now must really regret their behaviour. Its amazing DIC are still interested in the club after the way they were treated and what could they ever have done for the club when they weren’t owners ??

  38. ST. Chris – excellent post mate. You have said things that needed to be said. With you on this one particularly in light of the pro-hicks traffic lately posted on this forum.

  39. DIC PR spin in Indy, Mirror, etc…
    Hicks PR spin in this website…

    Spot the difference!!!

    Good post ST. Chris

  40. ST. Chris – Bravo mate. Excellent post. Nothing can be disputed. Everything you said is true. As I have always stated, as have everybody who actually cares about Liverpool FC believes, the owners have been a disgrace and nothing they have done can be justified. Rafa has done all the work tying up players. Hicks doesn’t even know who klinsmann was so I doubt he ever heard of Lucas or Babel.

    They all must go. ALL of them – they are all idiots – but the Amercians are pond scum who suck decent people out of their money. Absolute parasites on society. DIC could be a disaster but at least the club would survive if we didn’t qualify for the champions league for 4 or 5 seasons.

    Gillett and Hicks out now and take Parry and Moores with you.

    Share Liverpool FC No 1 – I’ve pledged my £5k every Liverpool fan who cares about the club should do the same. Lets get our club back!!!

  41. Great post ST. Chris. You’re right of course. None of Hicks, Gillett, Parry, or DIC is likely to come out of this debacle with much credit.

    Love the ‘DIC circling like vultures’ analogy.

  42. Vultures prepared to pay twice the price they were going to 18 months before they were crapped on by M&P. Some vultures.

  43. And if the carcass of Liverpool is such rich pickings why aren’t there any other “vultures” other than DIC circling ?

  44. With regards to the apparent leaked story to the press yesterday where DIC apparently leaked the story that Rafa told Hicks to go away, was it even true that it was DIC that had leaked it or was it a hack making a story out of nothing like they normally do?

  45. Bits and pieces in the press this morning suggest that most of LFC’s transfer targets are likely to be squad players rather than big names. One report suggests Rafa has 30M to spend. We already know about Degen and Barry being targets, other names quoted are Antonio Valencia of Wigan, Fernando Amorebieta of Atletico Bilbao, and Albert Riera of Espanyol.

  46. Jofrad – Hicks and Gillette must have seen Moores coming from a mile of. He sold them the club for a fraction of what it was actually worth. About 18 months later the club has doubled in its value but the only thing that has changed is the debt on the club. Moores should have played hard ball like the yanks and he could have sold the club for 500 million but minus the debt. Moores must be sitting there now kicking himself.

  47. That’s a really good post ST Chris. Doesn’t matter if everyone agrees with all of it or some it, it’s from the heart.

    I think we’re going to have to ride this storm out, I hope it’s not going to go through a spell of 50-50 Hicks-DIC, first. That’s the least acceptable option.

    It’s as wrong to automatically forgive DIC for being messed about by Moores and Parry as it is to automatically forgive Hicks for Gillett’s possible hindrance.

    The day they take control, whoever it is, is day one of them proving to us what they can do for us.

    No more excuses.

    All parties have had enough time now to come up with the goods.

    DIC have had enough time to make their final decision on their final offers. They’d better not be holding back a few more million just in case, just make that top offer now.

    Hicks has had enough time to raise the money to match, or even beat, the DIC offer. If he’s got the money then he should have made the offer. If he’s not, then it’s time to step out of it.

    Gillett knows how much is on the table. Assuming DIC and HIcks have both bid, it’s a straight choice. If it needs legal action for him to get his choice, well it can’t start until he does choose.

    Make-your-mind-up time. Not for us either.

  48. Jim,
    Exactly what did DIC do wrong when Moores preferred to sell to H&G ??
    DIC and Hicks 50/50 is just what were we’re going to get in the short term until DIC squeezes Hicks out. He won’t jump until he’s pushed. Sorry to be a pessimist but its the real world we’re living in.

  49. Hop – The reason that LFC may ne only prepared to buy squad players and not spend big again like they did with Torres may be because no-one knows who is going to own the club in the summer. If Hicks and Gillette are going to sell up then they will not put their hands in their pockets, why would they want to reduce their potential profits. If DIC get it before the end of the season then the spending strategy that Rafa has in the summer may change, he may be given the go ahead to spend about 25 – 30 million on one player.

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