Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hicks and Gillett start packing quietly

Fuck off, you smug c*nt.

A quiet drink in a Liverpool pub over the weekend turned sour for Tom Hicks Jnr, and now, it's looking like the sour taste is spilling over into the boardroom.

The news this morning is that the ownership team of Hicks and Gillett is going to grant the Dubai International Capital [DIC] permission to examine the club's accounts, the first step towards making an official takeover bid.


This isn't going to be good.

The Americans' reign in the EPL has not been very calm, with several highly-publicized fights in the media with Rafa Benitez, as well the uproar over their shaky financial standing and loan re-financing. It's been rough, but they did manage to bring world-class striker Fernando Torres to town, along with some other unpolished gems, and yet, it's time to sell up.

At this point, it's so hard to know what's prompted all of this. They pledged just four weeks ago that they were committed to the long-term prosperity and heart of the club, and now they're suddenly eager to maximize their profits after 12 months in charge.

Gillett will apparently be the first to sell up, although he's been more and more of a ghost over the winter, having little to do with the club and leaving his son to do most of his heavy lifting.

Hicks, meanwhile, has been vocal and outspoken at every turn, and it's highly likely that the incident over the weekend was the straw that broke the camel's back. He knows they're not wanted, but it will be some time before we, the fans, realize that DIC is no bed of roses either.

Of course, the Yanks know how to stretch a dollar, and the likelihood is that they're going to over-value the club in order to bleed more from DIC. The initial takeover in 2007 was valued at 218.9 million pounds, but Hicks & Gillett now put the club's worth in excess of 400 million. They do need to get their 350 million pound loan swallowed back up, but considering the way they went about funding their purchase, that seems a little cheeky to me.

DIC will likely be relucant to meet that estimate considering that it's not a guarantee that LFC will make the Champions League next season, but as a life-long fan, I have to trust in that happening.

Will we ever see this get realized?

This is a fascinating time to be a Liverpool fan, or a fan of soccer in general. This is the first time we as a club have dealt with these issues, and the sudden shift of power in both management and ownership will surely affect the product on the pitch.

Fact of the matter is, this is football now. This is what we have to accept. Clubs are becoming less tied to their localities and more tied to their mythical brands and their long reach over the rest of the world. Identity converted into commerce, history translated into future profits.

Wrapping up fourth place [or even third, ha] in the league, and a long run in the Champions League would certainly remove a lot of this bitter taste. But whatever happens in the boardroom, I have to trust that the club won't fall too far from its grace.


Josh said...

I wonder what 'pool fans will use as an excuse when they can't win in the prem under new owners, either.

This whining about the American owners has always been bullshit. If you can beat Inter Milan but lose to Barnsley, you have a coaching problem, not a personnel problem

Lingering Bursitis said...

Josh, we're not exactly searching for excuses, and I'm not trying to scapegoat the Yank owners either.

I'm not sure what the problem is, but something has to be changed. The house has to be burned down in order to save the village.

I am of two minds about new owners. I hate the way Hicks & Gillett have stirred the shit and now looked to go back on all their words, but I'm not entirely happy about the DIC's track record as a financial wing of a dictatorial, ruthless government.

Lesser of two evils.

Also, this sort of problem is not unique to us. Look at Chelsea.

Josh said...

I hear you. I guess what I meant was, while you aren't using the owners as the scapegoat, I think a great many supporters are, and I think that is a cop out (Kop out?), given the amount of talent on the roster, the players that WERE brought in, and the wild inconsistency with which they've been used.

Plus, as you noted with Chelsea, throwing more money (good money after bad, as it were), is not the solution. Look at how much Real Madrid struggled (up until only the end of last season, when they finally got it together)...look at AC Milan...look at Chelsea this season. Hell, look at the Yankees!

The problem is on the bench. I'm not sure if it's the mindset of the players, how they're being motivated, tactics...probably a combination. On paper, it looks like they're back on track, after Inter and Middlsborough. But they were damn lucky against 'boro...the final score did not tell the true story.

Let's put it another way: do Everton or Aston Villa have anywhere near as much talent as Liverpool?

Ian said...

While I agree with you James that DIC are probably not the most savory of characters, I think they would be a much better owner than the duo of the incompetent Texan and the silent one. As a sovereign wealth fund, they are likely to look for good returns over a 10+ year period, which means they understand the need to reinvest in the team and maintain Liverpool's position in the big 4. That would be very unlike Hicks and Gilett, who have larded on additional debt and taken cash out of the club at every available opportunity.

The sticking point here, as you rightly mention, is that the amount of debt means that Hicks and Gilett need to be taken out at a very high valuation, which DIC may (rightly) be unwilling to pay right now. It wouldn't surprise me if they wait until Liverpool fail to qualify for the Champions League and manage to talk Hicks & Gilett into a lower price.

Anonymous said...


The real issue with G & H's ownership for many Liverpool fans (or at least those with a real grasp) is not that they're to blame for the on-field issues, it's that they've created off-field issues where none previously existed. In their very short tenure, they've done a knock-up job of trying to chip away at the dignity of one of the most-illustrious clubs in the world, who used to do things the right way (i.e., handle things internally and keep quiet)

Josh said...

What specifically have they done, Sven? Not trying to be argumentative, but the only specific thing I've heard was about not giving Rafa all the money that he wants. What are the issues other than that?