By Nick Harris
28 May 2010
Tom Hicks and George Gillett got off to a bad start as the owners of Liverpool. And then it got worse. Inside their first year they made – and then broke – a string of promises to supporters, as outlined in this piece written for The Independent in January 2008. Some of the key claims and (lack of) action based on those claims between the 2007 takeover and early 2008 were:
- George Gillett, Feb 2007: “[Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher] spoke extremely warmly about Rafa and made us aware that they feel this man is truly one of the great geniuses in the recent history of the sport.” By Jan 2008: Interviewed Jürgen Klinnsman behind Rafa Benitez’s back.
- George Gillett, Feb 2007: “The first spade will start going into the ground on that [stadium] project by March .” By Jan 2008: Work yet to start.
- George Gillett, Feb 2007: “We have purchased the club with no debt on the club so, in that regard, it is different [to the Glazers’ buyout].” By Jan 2008: £105m debt on the club’s books. (£60m previously).
- Tom Hicks, Feb 2007: “It was not a question of money, it was a question of ‘Are we the proper custodians?’ and I believe we are … Over the next 30 years I’ll be happy to put a lot of my family’s money into this club.” By Jan 2008: No money up front from either Hicks’ or Gillett’s own reserves.
- Rick Parry, Feb 2007: “The partnership created by George and Tom is a very special one. They’re bringing to the table… real resources and a strong commitment and understanding of the traditions of Liverpool.” By Jan 2008: Real resources of £350m borrowed money.
Now the Spirit of Shankly fans’ group has undertaken their own “claim v reality” analysis (which can be read here in full) in the light of claims by Hicks in response to David Moores’ letter to The Times (which has been “annotated ” with links to contemporary news reports).
Sportingintelligence looks at some of the main bones of contention now between what Hicks says and SoS believe.
HICKS: “We have a substantial transfer budget in place”
SoS: Oh really? That’ll be because we’ve been saving up for the last three transfer windows then, as we have had a net profit in the past two seasons from our transfer activity and since then our financial position has spiralled further and further into the red whilst the Club’s auditors have publicly humiliated the Club and its supporters by qualifying the accounts for the last two years saying that there is “a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt on the Group’s and parent company’s ability to continue as a going concern”.
HICKS: “We will sell the club, we’re not gonna sell it to the wrong group, we’re not gonna sell it for the wrong price, we’re gonna take our time and do it in a very thoughtful way and try to find the right steward to own Liverpool Football Club. We hope it gets done by the end of the calendar year, we don’t anticipate it will necessarily be done before the beginning of the next season”
SoS: You’re not going to sell it to the wrong people for the wrong price, but to the right people for the right price? Excuse us if we don’t believe you Tom, you’re hardly one to talk about the right people. You and the Club are so financially distressed the risk is that you’ll sell to anyone for what you consider the right price without consideration of the suitability for our Club.
HICKS: “I have said £600-£800m is not an unrealistic value range, but the markets will see. We’re more concerned with finding the right next owner, somebody that can make the investment in the club, get the stadium built and to let Liverpool Football Club be the best possible football club in the world”
SoS: It is unrealistic Tom. You paid a third of that, and it’s damaged goods after your reign. We have no reason to trust you as your promises have consistently been found out, like these bare faced lies will be too.
HICKS: “New stadium is fully designed now, global financing markets are back, so I think with the change of ownership coming we will be able to have the new stadium built for Liverpool”
SoS: George Gillett promises to start work on the stadium in “60 days”, you don’t stick to it and all we have is a few pretty pictures that to date have cost £45.5m. I suppose we can finally say at least you’re now admitting your own failure at our Club.
HICKS: “There has been so much misinformation put out by people who have their own agendas and it’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it is”…..”Our debt is £237 million”
SoS: You’ve been caught in a lie. Look at the accounts (Page 26, Section 17 if you’re struggling to find it). We owe the banks £237m, and we owe other loans of £144.4m. You remember these? The ones you loaded on the Club with the 10% interest rate that we don’t pay but which just gets added and rolled over year after year, after year. Remember?
HICKS: “I’m disappointed on a personal level that our efforts have not been received as well as I wish they had of been”
SoS: Which efforts would these be Tom? The lies, broken promises, contempt for fans or this latest nonsense? Or the effort you went to in travelling to Anfield now and again on all expenses paid trips, with this and other expenses costing us over £2m to date?