BBC BLOGS - Dan Roan
« Previous | Main | Next »

Liverpool co-owners playing for extra time

Post categories:

Dan Roan | 06:44 UK time, Sunday, 11 April 2010

Martin Broughton has had quite a weekend.

On Friday, the horse the British Airways chairman co-owns, Ringaroses, won the 1655 at Aintree.

On Saturday, his beloved Chelsea FC reached the FA Cup Final at Wembley with victory over Aston Villa.

Now, the former British Horseracing Authority chief seems set to be installed as the new chairman of Liverpool FC.

I understand Broughton has been approached by the club and is considering forming part of a restructured board with a view to finding new investors.

In recent weeks, Broughton has had to contend with the bitter industrial dispute with the BA cabin crew union, Unite. Ideal preparation, perhaps, for the infamously-divided Anfield boardroom.

But what does his possible arrival and the further appointment of Barclays Capital, the bank's investment arm, mean in terms of the future of the club?

On the one hand, it appears to buy co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett yet more time.

The Americans have built up a £237m debt at Anfield since taking over the club in 2007, and their principal creditor, RBS, has requested that the loan is reduced by £100m by this summer.

hicksgillett595.jpgGillett and Hicks need to find new investors. Photo: Press Association

Managing director Christian Purslow, along with two different banks - Merrill Lynch (Hicks' choice) and Rothschilds (Gillett's bank) - have been searching for months to find new investment without success.

Fresh capital is desperately needed to extend the debt with RBS, make money available for manager Rafa Benitez in the transfer market, and enable more loans to help pay for a much-needed new stadium.

Last week, Hicks and Gillett rejected a £100m offer for a controlling 40% stake in the club by the Rhone Group, to the dismay of Benitez.

The package would have reduced the stakes of both owners and Gillett to just 30% each in return for nothing, hence their refusal to do business.

Now Broughton and Barclays, the sponsors of the Premier League, will take over the effort, with the owners hoping a more streamlined, united front will help lure potential interest.

Barclays may even provide a cash injection themselves and replace RBS, but some are sceptical. One well-placed source close to the negotiations told me: "This defies belief and is an act of desperation. Hicks and Gillett are clutching at straws. It just means more delay, more interest repayments, and more fees spent on bankers."

A City insider said: "Broughton is a serious business heavyweight but even if Barclays bail Liverpool out for now, their problems remain. It's a sticking plaster, not a solution, and a new buyer still needs to be found if a new stadium is to be realised.

"The crux is that Hicks and Gillett's valuation of the club is much higher than everyone else's"

However, the appointments of Broughton and Barclays could also signify that, rather than wanting to attract simply minority investment, the owners have had enough and are now preparing to leave Anfield altogether.

Their presence together at Anfield last week, for the first time in six months, certainly suggested a change of approach.

An outright takeover still depends on the owners being more realistic with their valuation, however, and is likely to only happen once the club's Champions League fate is known.

Fresh capital cannot be found quick enough for Liverpool and their manager, who believes he needs to spend £60m this summer to remain in the Premier League's elite.

If they fail to finish in the top four of the Premier League, I understand the club will struggle to pay the huge interest payments on their debt burden.

If no one can be found to lend them more money, prize assets such as Fernando Torres could well have to be sold.

Twice before, Hicks and Gillett have come close to a complete sale of Liverpool. Many Liverpool fans will hope now hope this latest twist to their tenure will result in third time lucky.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    The Yanks' 'leadership' has been a joke. It is high time they leave Anfield for good, and promptly.

    Liverpool could do with an Arab Sheik right about now...

  • Comment number 2.

    Nice article Dan thanks. What bothers me about H&G is that they seem to signalling a new type of owner, one that actually doesn't want to invest a heck of a lot of their own money in order to accumulate wealth through success. The Glazers are the same at Man Utd, now much as I dislike Man Utd I do have empathy for their fans in so much as there is no sign of "Glazer Money" being put into the enhancement of the club. H&G are a smaller scale version of this and as long as they are there we will have problems competeing with the cream of the crop domesticlly and in Europe. Recent deals with Standard Chatered Bank, Carlsberg and (rumoured) Adidas will bring vast sums of money through the door, however because Statler and Waldorf have heavily geared the club with debt guess where large portions of this "new" money will go. On the plus side Purslow has proven himself to be a canny operator, everyhting is there at Liverpool apart from owners who invested due to passion and business sense, rather than just the latter.

  • Comment number 3.

    It seems obvious they are playing for an extension from the bank with the board shake up.

    Even as chairman, Martin Broughton will have to show an exceptional charm to convince people he is not simply a front man for the Americans.

    The lack of confidence in Liverpool from investors is my greatest concern and I wonder how much of that relates primarily to the behaviour of Hicks and Gillett. While we are often privy to the thoughts of Hicks, such as his intent to reject bids based on personal profit, I am just as unsettled by any silent agenda Gillett holds.

    As for missing out on the Champions League next year, I doubt it would have a massive impact on the clubs ability to pay the bills. Certainly not if it is at least tempered by a league challenge next season as well as another good run in the Europa.

    It will not have hurt us leaving the competition early at the group stages if we go on to win the Europa and I am sure even fans of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester would prefer to win the Europa than go out of the CL in the quarters.

    I don't think the problem will be finding the 100 million investment. The current owners terms might have to change, it could all be a simple game of brinkmanship.

    They want the best deal possible, they will do what they can to extend the time to sound out more investors, one they will eventually meet in the middle somewhere and that will be that for another year. At least that is until they realise that two might be company, but three...

    More Drama.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Dan,

    Good report. Could you explain one thing please. If G&H loaded a debt of £239M on the club when a much lower level (£80M?) existed before they bought wouldn't they have to pay off the balance after any sale?

    When you buy a house with borrowed money the debt doesn't remain with the house when you sell. Why is this any different?

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Scary stuff indeed, but whatever happens - whether it's the 'sticking plaster' approach or a full takeover - if there is money generated for transfers in the summer, it would be a huge mistake to give it to Benitez. The man simply cannot be trusted to spend it, he has proven this time and time again. Get him out and get Mourinho in.

  • Comment number 8.

    harper0481

    im a united fan but why do you forget players like torres,alonso,kuyt, mascherano,riena? all managers sign donkeys weather it be rafa,fergie or wenger

  • Comment number 9.

    Why make a Chelsea fan the chairman of Liverpool ?
    Isn't that a conflict of interests ;)

  • Comment number 10.

    "Good report. Could you explain one thing please. If G&H loaded a debt of £239M on the club when a much lower level (£80M?) existed before they bought wouldn't they have to pay off the balance after any sale?"
    ==========================================================

    No, not at all, that depends on the terms of the sale.

    The debt belongs to the holding company, not the owners. If they sell the holding company it is likely that the debt would stay, they would simply sell the company for a much smaller fee (as it includes debt).

    On the other hand if the holding company sells the club, then the debt would stay with them.

    Don't forget that debt is usually the most desirable form of raising money, far more so than capital, so I find it unlikely anyone would buy the club without taking the debt.

    Even then it's not as simple as that, remember when Ken Bates bought Chelsea for £1, including all the debt.

  • Comment number 11.

    "Why make a Chelsea fan the chairman of Liverpool ?
    Isn't that a conflict of interests ;)"
    =======================================

    Not really, on that basis every player could only play for the team they support.

    Don't forget our own Carra used to be an Everton fan, he even turned up to training in an Everton top when he was young. Doesn't mean he didn't want to do the best he could for us.

    Someone like this new Chairman doesn't get to his position without the professionalism to do a good job.

  • Comment number 12.

    Liverpool fans should be asking George Gillette why he hasn't invested the 550 million dollars he made from the sale of the Canadian Ice Hockey team and Stadium, The Montreal Canadiens, three months ago

  • Comment number 13.

    THanks for the explanation of the debt situation. It's all too flippin' complicated isn't it? As long as they don't burden the club / holding company with a substantially higher amount of debt than before they bought I will be satisfied.

    But we've been here before with potential buyers. DIC and the Middle East Prince. Is there any proof that this reported sale has more credence than those two? It's getting very tiring having your hopes raised only to have them dashed again.

    My only hope is that G&H are finally realising they have either got to invest substantial sums to keep the team competitive or sell. There is no 3rd way as investors won't buy into a club with such divisive owners.

    And if the club is sold let it be to a single owner. Multiple owners (like co-managers) just don't work.

  • Comment number 14.

    Quite a good read. Let us hope that both ManU and Liverpool find buyers who need not borrow in order to buy.

    re 3: "It will not have hurt us leaving the competition early at the group stages if we go on to win the Europa and I am sure even fans of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester would prefer to win the Europa than go out of the CL in the quarters."
    --------------------------------

    Nope. Any season, I would much rather we played CL quarters than staggered all the way thru a revamped UEFA Cup, thank you. I would even value an FA Cup win over Europa, by the way. Europa is a good way for clubs such as Zenit to shine thru, show they can kick the ball, and put their players on display so they will cash in more for them, eventually. There is, in my opinion, little point in playing the competition for internationally established clubs from widely followed league competitions. It's a wonderful place for Partizan Belgrade, for Club Brugge, for Maccabi Haifa... clubs that will rarely experience CL and if so, then without much fanfare. But maybe you foresee Liverpool as a part of this tier of clubs. Or maybe you feel you need to sell some players to stay afloat.

    I hope you won't be telling us next that it would be better to qualify only for Europa Cup and forgo CL altogether, since winning Europa eventually is so much better than qualifying for a competiton one will get knocked out of anyway.

  • Comment number 15.

    I often see this figure of 237m for the debt but am I correct Dan that this is just the debt of Kop Holdings and that Liverpool FC has a seperate debt now approaching 100m?

  • Comment number 16.

    Liverpool fans should be asking George Gillette why he hasn't invested the 550 million dollars he made from the sale of the Canadian Ice Hockey team and Stadium, The Montreal Canadiens, three months ago
    ........................

    It was the same situation.The money from the sale was all owed to banks not him personally.It's how they work and have done for 20+ years.

  • Comment number 17.

    Liverpool fans should be asking George Gillette why he hasn't invested the 550 million dollars he made from the sale of the Canadian Ice Hockey team and Stadium, The Montreal Canadiens, three months ago
    ........................

    It was the same situation.The money from the sale was all owed to banks not him personally.It's how they work and have done for 20+ years.

    ..........................................................................

    Not when he bought an 80% stake in the Montreal Canadiens for $185 million and sold his stake 9 years later for $550 million after - That's a $365 million profit !!!

  • Comment number 18.

    £60 million Benitez wants? So if Rafa does get new investors or even new owners who turn out to be the real deal where will this money go?
    My money would go:
    1 attacking/creative midfielder
    1 right winger
    1 left winger
    I would buy:
    Aimar (AM) - Would be relatively cheap. £10 million. Experienced. Worked under Rafa before. 30 years old so rotation wouldn't be a huge problem.
    Zarate (RW) - Would cost about £20/25 million. Highly rated at Lazio. Has had problems with their manager so is looking to move and Lazio are in difficulties on/off pitch. He would be a gamble but has great potential, his temper could be a problem though.
    Silva (LW) - Would cost £30 million. Left winger. Young. Skilled. Yet to prove himself. Injury concerns. Too much of a lightweight for premier league. But again potential to be world class.
    The only problem with my list is no english talent. The only ones I could think of were: milner and Ashley Young but value for money is questionable.
    Also I have not put a striker on my list. Basically I think Kuyt should be our back up striker. He isn't creative or pacey enough to be a right winger and who could we buy that would want to sit on the bench to Torres? And rumous are that we have signed Jovanovic, so I guess he is back up striker.
    Views?

  • Comment number 19.

    G&H raised the money to buy the club from the banks (400 mil), in their own names and promised it would stay that way. However, once they had bought Liverpool they then changed their minds and transfered the debt to the club. They had effectively bought the club for free. Liverpool then have to pay wages, buy players, invest in infrastructure, and pay the installments on the debt. Any buyer of the club takes on responsibility for the debt as well. The Glaziers did the same at Man Utd, it's a common trick.

  • Comment number 20.


    Liverpool will do well to get a new investor ASAP. They desperately need it. Nothing against foreign ownership but these particular guys do not have a clue about how to run a football club. Take note Manchester United. The Glazers will eventually do exactly the same thing to that club which is happening at Liverpool! IE sell good players and not replace them. Eventually clubs fall to lower levels of the league. It's inevitable! Lots of people here in the UK have no idea what happens in American Sport. Few people know that the Glazers have a controlling interest in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers State-side. I speak to supporters of the Buccaneers and common perceptions of the Glazers are not exactly glowing either! Hicks & Go, Glazer and co don't have the same zest or passion for their clubs that Roman has for Chelsea. Roman is all about winning. These US dudes are all about the dollar bill!

  • Comment number 21.

    Let's hope the Liverpool fan's can organise the money and get rid of the entrepreneurial profiteer's, forever !

  • Comment number 22.

    Martin Broughton must like a challenge if he is seriously considering adding Liverpool to his 'to do' list.

    ==============================================

    No 9) Why make a Chelsea fan the chairman of Liverpool ?
    Isn't that a conflict of interests ;)
    ==============================================

    No, it's not a conflict of interests. Players support different clubs, even referees support teams, and they must have to ref a game in which the result might effect the team they support at some stage of the season.

    It's only if you own a certain amount of shares in more than one club, that it becomes a conflict of interest.

    Anyway, the main point is that these men are business men 1st, and fans 2nd, or anywhere from 2nd to 92nd. They are only interested in what they can get out of it, not what the fans want.

    Liverpool fans worst nightmare for me, must be that they get rid of the yanks, only to find that they are replaced by another group of investors, maybe worse, and only interested in whats in it for them.

    Of all the names you hear linked (if they are true), it sounds like that is all that the future holds for Liverpool.

    It would appear that there is not too many Oil Barons, from Russia or the Middle East, who are prepared to throw good money away just for entertainment.

  • Comment number 23.

    There is enough local talent. no need to spend £60 million..In General Liverpool fans gate money wont even cover the dent interest let alone the player wages ... Another Portsmouth in the making

  • Comment number 24.

    It's amazing why managers always just want an open cheque book anyway.
    I'm not going to start saying Benitez wastes millions as most managers do, in contrast Torres, Reina, Alonso etc, have been good signings.

    Why not invest a bit more in youth, the Liverpool area still seems to unearth talent, so why haven't Liverpool tapped into it? Everton have.

    Or is it that they have the players in the youth system, or reserves, but they never get a chance?

    The biggest problem Liverpool have is if you did give him £60M, he couldn't afford any mistakes this time. With the finances at Liverpool surely that would be playing Russian Roulette with the clubs future.

  • Comment number 25.

    It is this time of year where stories about the club being sold surface and the end result is always that yanks are still in charge.

    I can blame the Yanks for many things, but the person who must take the most blame for the financial mess Liverpool is in, is the previous owner David Moores. It was he that undervalued Liverpool and allowed these two American used car salesmen to buy the club and turned down the offer from Dubai. It was he who thought the Americans, who openly stated they knew nothing about soccer, were better owners for Liverpool than the richer DIC group headed by a lifelong fan of Liverpool. I suspect he opted for the Yanks based on their nationality, which is very ignorant.

    Hicks and Gillett were just oportunist. Liverpool were sold to them for around £300 million. Liverpool is one of the two biggest clubs in the world. Barcelona play wonderful football and Real Madrid have won a lot of trophies, but no team has as many paying fans around the global as Man Utd and Liverpool. Adidas figures shows that the Liverpool shirt is their biggest selling item they produce in any sport and when you think that they sponsor teams like Bayen, Real Madrid, Milan, Germany and the French national team, Liverpool have a fan base that outstrips these giant teams. The Americans purchased the 2nd best supported team in the world at a quarter of the value of Manchester United, one third of the value of Arsenal and half the value of Chelsea. If someone offered you a Ferrari for £20,000, even if you couldn't afford the insurance or parts costs, you would still buy it because it would be too much of bargain to turn down.

    If Moores had valued closer to the real value of the club, which is between £600-900 Million, these chancers could have never purchased Liverpool and only people who had the funds to invest in the team could take control.

    My problem with the American owners is rather than being satified with making a big profit of around £100 Million, knowing that they got the club far too cheaply and sell the club to a person who can take the team forward; They are holding out and stagnating the club because they want to make a killing and sell the clubs at double the price they paid. They will do that because they are not football fans and only see Liverpool as a financial investment. The problem is potential buyers are just going to wait until Liverpool get in a worst mess than they are now so they can buy the club as cheap as they can.

  • Comment number 26.

    Year ago I met Billy Liddell who was one of my footballing heroes. At that time Liverpool FC represented something that we all felt proud of. Loyalty, hard work and a sense of community. We had a great ambition but that was a by product of doing things "the Liverpool way".

    To me, the Liverpool FC of today no longer represents those virtues and I don't feel good about the club. Newcastle had to go out of the Premier League to get rid of their prima donnas and forge a "team". With Mike Ashley support and a new manager they have become what they traditionally always were - a hard working TEAM which represents the community. Their position in the league is a by product of this and not an end in itself.

    Winning a game doesn't mean much when you don't respect those involved.

  • Comment number 27.

    25) Derek02000, didn't the Yanks offer Moores a seat on the board?

    Whereas DIC wanted to come in and bring their own people to run the club, and to occupy all the seats in the boardroom.

    I'm sure I heard this before, but I could be wrong.

    It would be amazing if Moores sold the club to the Americans on the understanding that he kept a seat on the board.

  • Comment number 28.

    What scares me is Liverpool ending up financially crippled in the same way that Portsmouth currently are, or Leeds United were. A big club, and they fall right down to to the 3rd tier of English football, and almost went out of business.

    I don't take any pleasure in saying this, but I was one of the few at that time that Sheikh Mohammed and D.I.C. to take control. The reason for that is partly because he is known and RESPECTED in the horse racing world, and IS KNOWN TO PROTECT HIS INVESTMENTS, something which I do not see with the current owners. I agree with others though; Gillett & Hicks' valuation of the club is over-inflated. I can see the RBS loan being recalled if the reds fail to either win the Europa League, or finish 4th (which after todays result looks a forlorn hope). What is being proposed with Martin Broughton and Barclays; is it really the answer? That, I'm not so sure of.

  • Comment number 29.

    Hicks and Gillette really are a joke. They are a business equivalent of 'The Odd Couple'. It seems that after purchasing the club with borrowed money, investing none of their own money, reaping no rewards in terms of silverware and frustrating players, management and supporters, they are trying to sell the club at a profit, not forgetting that we are still in something of a global recession (which has deflated the value of many assets - since the date of purchase).
    If these two really were the 'canny businessmen' that everyone has been told of, they would attempt a different path. Both have sold alternative assets in the UK, and the club would look more promising to investors if the teams were actually winning. In order to achieve that goal, investment into the team and partial payment of the debt would need to occur. This would be more likely to lure potential investors.
    No one wants to board a ship that is lurching from one crisis to another, moreover, it is even less likely that people will want to take over as captain of this crisis riddled ship.
    The fact that the team I love and have followed for almost thirty years, stands on the brink of an abyss saddens me deeply, as does the fact that I am powerless to prevent the events that will ensue. If fans stopped buying Liverpool merchandise, would this prompt the onset of change or push the club closer to the brink on which it stands so perilously?

  • Comment number 30.

    Anyway - great result at Blackburn today - ha ha! Looks like the Mancs will end up with just the 'milk cup' this year. Hopefully this new chairman will bring in some decent investors and we can wave the 2 cowboys goodbye and good riddance! We need something after our poor performance against Fulham - we should be winning games like that.

  • Comment number 31.

    # 29:

    If fans stopped buying Liverpool merchandise, would this prompt the onset of change or push the club closer to the brink on which it stands so perilously?

    ==================================================

    It's very difficult for fans to do anything in a situation like this. Us fans always end up as piggy in the middle. Clubs always come out with platitudes about how important the fans are - well that's just a crock of ****. Fans are the last to be thought about, consulted or considered. That's modern football.

  • Comment number 32.

    Sadly its just not Liverpool who are effected by the farce of overseas ownership of our football clubs. Where were the premier league, F.A etc when all this loading the club with the debt was taking place. So much for vetting new owners to ensure that they are fit for purpose. Some of these guys treat our clubs and take the responsibility of ownership in much the same way as kids playing Monopoly. Its time that the critera for ownership/take overs was considerably changed and the rules tightened up, to prevent the debt being tranfered in such a manner. As these clubs are in effect limited companies the Board of Trade has a duty to ensure that the directors do not trade the club while it is insolvent, that in itself is illegal.
    Owners, managers and players all come and go, the only loyalty shown to any club is by the supporters, and it is them that usually pick up the tab for the mis doings of all the others. Liverpool, great club, has had some wonderfull management and players, great supporters, just a shame about the owners .

  • Comment number 33.

    32: swinfan58

    Have to agree with all you say. The football authorities must take a lot of the blame for the state of football, after all they make the rules and administer the game. I love my club, Liverpool, have supported them for nearly 40 years. However, it's all about money now, loyalty, community, fans mean nothing to these people, it's just the bottom line. We will never get back to the old days, I'm afraid the spirit of Shankly and Cloughie and all the great managers have long since gone. Football has been lost to big business the the corporate ethos.

    Anyway - well done Portsmouth - hope they do Chelski in the final - maybe dreams can come true!

  • Comment number 34.

    £237m in debt. Rafa wants £80m to rebuild the team. Liverpool have to win the Europa League,because at present in 6th position and having played more games than the teams around them,they are not going to qualify for the Europa League never mind the Champions League.Who are they going to buy? A massive club like Liverpool have to be in europe and top quality players want to play in europe. Surely no european football,no £80m to spend.

  • Comment number 35.

    For me it is very simple, Hicks & Gillett need to be more realistic with the valuation of the club, sell it to someone passionate about the club and leave. Whilst these two are in charge the club simply cannot move forward. Liverpool Football Club has about as much chance of returning to the glory days under their stewardship as a one legged man in an arse kicking contest.

    I am also concerned that Rafa claims to want £60-80m for new players. It's not that I don't agree with this assessment, I do. The thing that concerns me is that Rafa history in the transfer market is not what could be considered productive. Of all the players he has purchased only about a 3rd could be considered to be some sort of success and of those only about a 3rd remain at the club. Rafa needs to identify the right players first time around rather than buy 9 in the hope that 1 will be a success and remain at the club for years to come.

  • Comment number 36.

    When will you get it Hicks and Gillett, we want you OUT NOW, it's our club and our best interests are for you to GO!. GOOOOO. You are not wanted. No more time. Lets get the ball rolling again.

    Benito our faith is in you!

  • Comment number 37.

    I don't understand this!
    How on earth can they be allowed to do this?! Or the Glazers?
    We talk about Liverpool being £250m in debt and United being £700m in debt, NEITHER club has this level of debt, these are debts of the owners, they took out the loans, so how on earth can the two clubs be made responsible?! This is a total and utter disgrace, morally and financially.
    They took out the loans not the clubs, so how do they get to walk away and sit there, unburdened by these loans they took out?
    Why, I could go and buy the club, then take out a £300m loan against the club and get the club to cover the payments until it was all paid back.
    LUDICROUS.

    It's about time the premier league stepped in and threaten to boot both clubs out of the league unless ownership is changed hands, the owners are hardly going to stay with that sort of threat.

  • Comment number 38.

    People make too much of the fact the ownership of Liverpool is foreign. Can I remind everyone Newcastle and Leeds are both British owned, while Villa and Chelsea are both foreign owned... the nationality of the owner makes no difference, it's how they conduct their business.

  • Comment number 39.

    Why, I could go and buy the club, then take out a £300m loan against the club and get the club to cover the payments until it was all paid back.
    LUDICROUS.
    .....................

    That's how virtually every business in the world expands.Borrow money and pay it back from the supposed increase in profits.

    You are describing the world financial system.

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    steviegmbe reveals precisely the attitude that doomed both Leeds and Portsmouth to financial oblivion. Would you take out a huge loan, invest in a thoroughbred horse and good trainer/jockey and hope you make that loan back and then turn a profit? Most sane people wouldn't, because the uncertainties in horse racing, like football, are huge and anything can happen. For example, the horse could be injured, underperform or be beaten by better horses, leaving you facing financial ruin.

    Despite the obvious logic of the above, we see over-zealous idiots (or people looking to make a fast buck) welcomed in with open arms by unrealistic fans who see nothing wrong with their club taking its place at the races with borrowed money. Then the dream turns sour and we get scenarios like Notts County.

    Liverpool simply cannot afford to compete with the big boys at the moment and would do well to adopt a more realistic financial model before it's too late. Chelsea, Man City and Man U will all suffer in the future too as their ridiculous accounts come home to roost, so scousers will have the last laugh IF they have the bravery to suck up a few lean years to get their house in order.

  • Comment number 43.

    It will not have hurt us leaving the competition early at the group stages if we go on to win the Europa and I am sure even fans of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester would prefer to win the Europa than go out of the CL in the quarters.
    _______________________________________________________________________

    No, not one of theses teams would prefer this. The Champions League is a tournament for Big Clubs, the Europa league is for also rans and ambitious middle of the road teams. Which one have Liverpool fell into for you to believe this?

  • Comment number 44.

    Reading the comments above and all the other "Yanks Out" nonsense from Rafa-supporters makes me question whether they even realize that per season net transfer spending has increased under the hated Americans. Liverpool rank fifth in net transfer spending since the Americans arrived but note that only ManCity and Spurs rank higher than Liverpool on both the net spending and actual Prem table. The other clubs above you in the Prem (Chelsea, ManU, and Arsenal) rank 12, 14, and 19th in net spending since your club was bought of the twenty clubs currently in the Prem. I'm sure you'll point out that those three spent more in the past which is true but Liverpool rank 3rd in net spending since Arsenal's unbeaten season and also third since the start of the Prem. I can see little reason to blame the foreign owners for your current problems since clearly Rafa had more net funds available than Fergie, Wenger, and Chelsea's various managers since the purchase of Liverpool. The lack of quality and depth in your squad is Rafa's fault alone. He is a poor judge of player talent, fails to get the best out of his players, and then sells players for less than he paid. Giving him another pound let alone millions to waste would be madness.

  • Comment number 45.

    With Liverpool's Champions League fate having been sealed at the weekend I'm afraid Hicks and Gillett are in big trouble. No CL = No Big Bucks = no chance of Premier League Title again next season and a big struggle to finish in top four with little investment!!! It is the start of the end for the club unless the Saudi Royal Family come to our aid.

  • Comment number 46.

    H&G thought this was going to be a money spinner, get in get out, makes lots of money. This is ruining the EPL. The sooner they go, the better.

  • Comment number 47.

    It's easy enough to blame the owners, refeshing to hear Benitez admit for the first time he's made mistakes, however a good manager he may be (which is debatable anyway) he's brought in too many useless players, dispensed with too many good ones he himself has bought too soon, ostracised players like Alonso and Keane and even the half decent ones more often or not have been overpriced. That doesn't leave many good ones.

    Ironically the owners worst mistake was giving Benitez such a large contract that given their financial woes they can't afford to sack him. Given Benitez promise of finishing fourth he should resign but I bet he won't, as someone who's not a liverpool fan he should do it on that failed promise alone.

  • Comment number 48.

    as cannon stated Liverpools poor performances are due to Rafa's poor transfer record.

    see http://www.transferleague.co.uk/ for details but here is a quick summary

    # Net Spend 04 - 09 Purchased Sold Nett Per Season
    1 Manchester City £299,750,000 £71,900,000 £227,850,000 £37,975,000
    2 Chelsea £267,950,000 £123,300,000 £144,650,000 £24,108,333
    3 Liverpool £249,230,000 £140,480,000 £108,750,000 £18,125,000
    4 Tottenham £259,000,000 £162,250,000 £96,750,000 £16,125,000
    5 Aston Villa £130,200,000 £40,255,000 £89,945,000 £14,990,833
    6 Sunderland £105,080,000 £30,400,000 £74,680,000 £12,446,667
    7 Manchester United £193,650,000 £161,550,000 £32,100,000 £5,350,000
    8 Stoke City £42,350,000 £11,595,000 £30,755,000 £5,125,833
    9 West Ham £101,645,000 £71,325,000 £30,320,000 £5,053,333
    10 Fulham £60,025,000 £30,825,000 £29,200,000 £4,866,667
    11 Birmingham City £66,800,000 £41,825,000 £24,975,000 £4,162,500
    12 Everton £102,100,500 £79,000,000 £23,100,500 £3,850,083
    15 Hull £22,415,000 £2,975,000 £19,440,000 £3,240,000
    14 Bolton £42,400,000 £26,300,000 £16,100,000 £2,683,333
    15 Wolves £22,075,000 £15,575,000 £6,500,000 £1,083,333
    16 Burnley £14,005,000 £8,625,000 £5,380,000 £896,667
    17 Wigan £60,850,000 £66,250,000 -£5,400,000 -£900,000
    18 Blackburn Rovers £49,052,000 £59,790,000 -£10,738,000 -£1,789,667
    19 Portsmouth £92,200,000 £116,490,000 -£24,290,000 -£4,048,333
    20 Arsenal £112,050,000 £138,320,000 -£26,270,000 -£4,378,333

  • Comment number 49.

    so as a United fan I'd be happy to win the europa rather than go out at quarters stage in the champions league would i? Well let me tell no I would not. To not cut the mustard in the real grand stage of champions league football and to call yourself a big club particularly given the history of both clubs (united and liverpool) it would be an embarrassment to then have to play in the european silver plate even if you would win it which again given the history of the clubs would be an embarrassment if you didn't so you'd better hope you do.

    With all due respect to fulham they haven't won 5 eurpean cups have they, just qualifying for europe is a big deal for them? So it's a fantastic achievement for them to get to the semis.

    Then there's the relative money rewards between the two. United will make bucket load more money than liverpool.

  • Comment number 50.

    If we were top of the league would we be saying anything about our owners? If we were flying high in the CL would we be saying anything about our owners?

    Just a couple of questions there to all true liverpool fans.

    My honest answer is No and No. If we were successful on the pitch then i dont really care whats going on upstairs. However, due to the lack of spark, inspiration and some pretty abysmal displays this season, all our focus is on the owners and how badly they are running the club.

    Now dont get me wrong, im not a fan of the american owners, but what im also not a fan of is the way we are playing this season.

    So my attention turns to the players. We have a load of players who should be sold on, they are not liverpool standard.

    Cavalieri, Insua, Lucas, Ngog, Aqualani, benayoun, Riera, Babel - thanks for your efforts but please leave.

    Its time to give our youth a chance -

    Martin can be a decent back up GK
    Darby and Kelly look good enough to play in Defence
    What exactly did Ayala do wrong in the first few games of the season?Spearing and Plessis can fight it out for Lucas role
    Ecclestone and Pacheco can replace Ngog and Beni.

    Yes, id sell Aqualani, the poor bloke gets lost in games and cant keep up, id sell him to an Italian team desperate to make up their quota.

    Id then go and buy two brilliant wingers with the money we have received from selling the above..



  • Comment number 51.

    A controlling stake is more than 50%. Hello?

  • Comment number 52.

    I'm sorry but Rafa has had 5 or 6 years at the club and is now admitting he needs a major overhaul in the summer to basically re-start his team around the basic spine.. ie Torres, Reina and Gerrard etc.. This means he has failed in my book.. I like the man but he has made too many mistakes and has gradually been taking Liverpool backwards.

    He has been getting many plaudits just now (rightly so) so I dont want to jump on the bandwagon but look at Roy Hodgson's theory on coaching.. ' to take a talent that has yet to emerge or more importantly has stalled and make it better' .. Rafa has been buying established talent and in some cases making it worse.. Hicks and Gillette for all their failings have not been the ones in charge of team affairs and the teams steady slide downwards.

  • Comment number 53.

    Looking at the respective financial positions of Liverpool & Everton, and being an Everton fan, for once I am not in the slightest bit financially jealous of the reds!
    OK so we are skint, and have been for some time, and every close season cannot spend anything until the Sky money comes in, which is why we lose players we're after. Prime example being one Ryan Babel - I bet he wishes he had come to us where he would have been a first team regular, and more importantly, treated with some respect, something Mr Benitez seems incapable of (ask Robbie Keane).
    Yes we're skint, but at least we have a chairman who is a true fan and won't sell the club down the river to any old foreign chancer(s) who happen along, and a manger who acts in a dignified manner and doesn't resort to petulant name calling and whinging at the drop of a hat.
    IMWT

  • Comment number 54.

    The main problem is that football now has two types of owners. One group are the business guys like H&G, the Glazers, and a bunch of others. They look at it from a business perspective. If they can make money (personally) from putting the club in debt, they do it. They know they can suck assets out of the club during their ownership, then sell it on for a profit later.
    The other group of owners are the super wealthy who can run a club as a hobby, and don't mind losing 100s of millions while doing so. Sheikh Mansour has dumped around 400 million into Man City... there aren't many people around willing to throw that kind of money down the drain.
    Only thing a supporter can do is pray for a bailout from billionaire... how pathetic.

  • Comment number 55.

    Another thing is the youth system at LFC. Errrrr where is it? While Everton are bringing through players to be worth multi millions, LFC has had nothing special since....Gerrard?

    LFC have been shafted by the Americans but wanting to sell to an Arab sheikh is hardly the LFC (mythical??) values.

  • Comment number 56.

    To Karim1981....

    Obviously if a team is on course to win the league and the champions league no-one has any negative things to say because the team is being successful. People are only negative when a team isn't achieving what it should be able to achieve. Questions are then asked as to who is to blame. Clearly Rafa isn't getting the results that Liverpool should be capable of getting. However, money talks in this industry and when your not given the same money as the likes of United, City and Chelsea it's going to be hard to compete. We were given false hopes so yes, Liverpool fans have a right to grumble about the direction in which it's being led.

    Also, give Aquilani a chance.. The likes of Henry was terrible in his 1st season and look how he turned out. It takes time to adapt to the English game, he deserves that time the same as any other player.

  • Comment number 57.

    It is such a shame that as always, Liverpool fans grasp at the old Big Club Straw, as it they have a divine right to continued sucess. The fact of the matter remains that football is all about money. The players know it, the owners know it and the tv companies know it. The only people who fail to realise this are Liverpools fans. Liverpool was sold by their owner for profit plain and simple. The new owners invested in the team and the team did not deliver. Mortgaged up to the hilt and with the champions league golden egg now gone, perhaps the arrogant reds will now re-consider the inevitable and groundshare with Everton

  • Comment number 58.

    @ ExPat-Kopite

    "I am sure even fans of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester would prefer to win the Europa than go out of the CL in the quarters"

    That is the most ridiculous statement I have read in a long time. No self regarding team would prefer to drop out of the worlds leading football competition to win a second tier one. This must be the type of self-deluding nonsense Liverpool fans have been reduced to.

  • Comment number 59.

    It is time to be realistic.... we are not going to qualify for the champions league. Man City and Chelsea have rich owners with money to burn, Arsenal and Man Utd have amazing managers and huge stadiums. These will be the new “big four”. We will not be taken over by super rich Arabs with more money than sense, all such people have been contacted 10 times already and are not impressed by the financial mess we are currently in.
    We need to set ourselves up to be financially stable and to be able to compete in all cup competitions (including the Europa league if we qualify). We cannot sack Benitez as his contract means this would be very expensive. Even if he quits we should not kid ourselves that someone like Mourinho would want the job. If we could get Harry Redknapp or Martin O'Neill either would be perfect. Whoever is the manager, the new reality needs to be explained to him. If he wants to buy new players he should sell players first. We could probably make 80m by selling Mascherano (40m), Aquilani (15m), Babel (10m), Lucas (5m), Skrtel (5m), Riera (3m) and Ngog (2m) and use it to buy Milner (20m), Lennon (15m), Crouch (15m), Defoe (15m), Parker (10m) and Upson (5m) which would give our squad a much better balance.
    Becoming financially stable would give us more chance of securing the required investment to build a new stadium. By the time the new stadium is completed, hopefully Wenger and Ferguson will have retired, and Chelsea and Man City’s owners will have found new expensive hobbies, and we can once again challenge for the big prizes.

  • Comment number 60.

    Hopefully no new investment is found forcing the holding company to sell its assests. Then lets hope the owners realise no one is going to give them a double your money offer and they take the decision to sell their biggest asset, the football club! And not start pulling the team apart to pay debt.
    If we do win the europa league of coarse its not the top prize. However it is still another trophy and title to add to the many. A tournament that does have serious european contenders (Roma,Juve,Galatasaray,Ajax,PSV,Valencia)
    If we don't qualify for next seasons CL and Benitez is still there it would be the first time he might focus (and want) to win the Premier League title as mich as the fans rather than european competition. Whether or not we have the team to do it is another question.

  • Comment number 61.

    Liverpool supporters not so long ago were deriding the likes of Everton & Fulham competing in the Europa League and calling it a "mickey mouse" trophy are now suddnly saying ...erm, well actually there's a lot of European pedigree in it, it's still a trophy, etc, etc.
    Ironic ain't it?

  • Comment number 62.

    Olly "If he wants to buy new players he should sell players first. We could probably make 80m by selling Mascherano (40m)"

    If you think Mascherano is worth 40m you are sadly deluded. 20m at best - especially after a distinctly average season this time round.

    I'm a Utd fan, so am following this story closely as there but for the grace etc etc go Man Utd. Realistically the only way out is to accept that for a couple of years you'll be outside the big 4 and consolidate rather than going for broke and splashing £80m you can't afford. It just shows how important a solid youth system is. Liverpool used to have one - what has happened to that?

    Clubs like Everton can basically cancel out any transfer losses by selling a player a year, Rodwell, Gosling etc will be the next ones after Rooney. Apart from training and minimal wage costs, these guys come for free and will keep the entire club afloat.

  • Comment number 63.

    Olly: #59 care to explain what makes you think Spurs would be willing to sell us 3 of their best players?
    Why Crouch (and for that matter Defoe) would want to go back to playing 2nd fiddle to Torres?
    When plans for their new stadium with its increased benefits are much more advanced than ours?

  • Comment number 64.

    62 Gawd I wish I had Rodwell's "minimal" wage of £20K per week! Yes, I know, it's relatively minimal in the excessive surreal world of top flight footy, but all the same.....

  • Comment number 65.

    boils wrote:
    Another thing is the youth system at LFC. Errrrr where is it? While Everton are bringing through players to be worth multi millions, LFC has had nothing special since....Gerrard?

    --------------------------------------

    We've won the FA Youth twice (06 and 07) since Benitez has been first team manager, yet not one player from those teams has broken through into the first team. And yet youth teams not as good as Liverpool's have yielded players for their first teams.

    Additionally, can anyone think of an unproven player that Benitez has brought to the club and then made into a better player? I can't. The successful buys - Torres, Mascherano, Reina, Alonso, Johnson - were already established top quality players.

    Conversely, there is a whole catalogue of players who he's brought to Anfield with a strong reputation (and accompanying chunky transfer fee), only for the player to disappoint and, all too often, leave the club for a sum significantly less than was paid for them.

    I like Benitez and wanted him to succeed, even after a first couple of seasons when he over-rotated the squad and we couldn't find any consistency. Although the lack of ability to bring young players through/improve players has been a concern of mine for a couple of years now, I really did think we'd started going in the right direction - until this season, when his deficiencies as a manager have been shown up. It's not even like we play entertaining football.

    Saying all that, the stats on net transfer spending do tell only half the story. He inherited a squad on the demise and lacking in quality. He had to rebuild and buy an awful lot of players in order to cling onto the coat tails of Man U, Chelsea and Arsenal, at a time when transfer fee inflation was rampant (due largely to Chelsea's sprees). Instead of being able to add just one or two top quality players to a good squad, he'd have to spread his transfer kitty much more thinly. Without checking, I'd guess his net spending was highest in his first few years of being manager.

    We need a total clean-out at the club - the Yanks, Benitez and a few non-performing players. We don't need to rebuild the squad, but it does need 3 or 4 top quality signings.

  • Comment number 66.

    'Clubs like Everton can basically cancel out any transfer losses by selling a player a year, Rodwell, Gosling etc will be the next ones after Rooney. Apart from training and minimal wage costs, these guys come for free and will keep the entire club afloat'
    Worse to follow for all of the so called big clubs is the possibility of restrictions on player wages, transfer budgets and more importantly club debt(see German Bundesliga)that UEFA, Blatter and Platini will eventuallty impose.
    As an Everton fan I would bee gutted to see some Sheik buy my club because he was bored of playing with his gold plated cars and diamond encrusted toilet. Even with a transfer budget somewhere in the stratosphere you have still lost the soul of the club (see Manchester City) the one vital thing that cannot be replaced.

  • Comment number 67.

    This blog has the slowest mods ever.....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......

  • Comment number 68.

    its laughable really.
    2 things get me. One persons says "Fans have no power".

    Yes they do. Stop buying tickets. Stop buying merchandise. Football clubs are a business, and a business losing income is a business in trouble. The unwanted owners will bail out or go bankrupt, then you can start supporting your club again. If you are relegated is that the end of Liverpool FC? NO..look at Leeds and Newcastle...still playing on.

    2. The "This is how its done" idea. Rubbish. Look at Arsenal. small debt, run on a profit, youth buying and training system, investment in stadium, balanced books. It can be done, but stupid people, whether fans or owners, get greedy and want either instant success or instant profits.

  • Comment number 69.

    66 AMT
    Too right fella. We moan about Kenwright, but rather him than Sheik Yerbouti any day of the week!

  • Comment number 70.

    12. At 11:40am on 11 Apr 2010, I was George Bests Left Foot wrote:
    Liverpool fans should be asking George Gillette why he hasn't invested the 550 million dollars he made from the sale of the Canadian Ice Hockey team and Stadium, The Montreal Canadiens, three months ago
    -------

    Because just like with Liverpool Gillette owed most of that 550 million Canadian Dollars to the banks.

    Same for Hicks with the sale of his Baseball team, he defaulted on 550 million dollars of loans last year, I believe he is selling for 575 million.

  • Comment number 71.

    I'm not sure G&H still have fresh cash, they expect to do some corporate action (American style) when they bought Liverpool.

    The only real cash is from Arabs. I read in Liverpool forum: "the purchase of City has been viewed as a great success in terms of raising the profile of Sheikh Mansour, and this has intensified interest in Liverpool".

    I do really hope Liverpool will be a premiership Champion while Gerard still the captain, he should earn it.

  • Comment number 72.

 

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.