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Wed 27 Feb 2008 01:38 AM

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Dubai sale rumours untrue, insists Liverpool owner

Reports DIC in talks to buy stake in club 'categorically false,' says Hicks.

Dubai sale rumours untrue, insists Liverpool owner
FALSE CLAIMS: Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks said reports that he was planning to sell his stake in the club to Dubai Investment Capital were a complete fabrication. (AFP)

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks insisted here on Tuesday he was not planning to sell his stake in the club after reports in the British press said the American had been in talks with Dubai Investment Capital (DIC) about a takeover at Anfield.

Hicks, who owns 50% of Liverpool with the other half of the club's shares controlled by his American business partner George Gillett, said in a statement that such reports were a complete fabrication.

"Reports that I am about to sell my stake in the Liverpool Football Club, or to invite DIC to examine the club's books in preparation for such a sale - like other such reports planted in the UK press in recent weeks by parties with their own self-interested agenda - are absolutely and categorically false," he said.

"The reality is that I am personally, professionally and financially committed to the club and its supporters and that I will continue to honour that commitment to the best of my ability now and in the future."

Hicks and Gillett have had a fraught relationship with Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, a fans' favourite.

And their standing on Merseyside wasn't helped when it emerged they'd been in talks with Jurgen Klinsmann regarding the possibility of the former Germany coach taking over in the event Benitez left. Many supporters saw this as a move designed to undermine the popular Spaniard.

Protests against the American pair have become commonplace at Anfield and last weekend Hicks's son, Thomas Jr, was spat at and chased out of a pub by angry fans after Liverpool's win at home to Middlesbrough.

DIC is the investment arm of the ruling Maktoum royal family of the UAE, who were previously linked with a takeover of Liverpool before former owner David Moores sold to Hicks and Gillett.

In January, the American duo announced a refinancing package which landed Liverpool with 105 million pounds of debt.

Takeover speculation is being fuelled by the fact the refinancing deal lasts for 18 months which means the club will soon have to start re-negotiating their debt.

Liverpool also seem set to go back to the banks for an additional 300 million pounds loan to help pay for a new stadium in Stanley Park, near Anfield.

Recent reports have said Gillett and Hicks have fallen out regarding their involvement with Liverpool.

But even if Gillett was willing to sell his 50% stake to DIC, that still wouldn't give them a controlling share and they would need to have some or all of Hicks's holding to effectively be in charge.

Liverpool crashed out of the FA Cup to second-tier side Barnsley and are a huge 17 points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal.

But they still have a chance of winning this season's lucrative European Champions League after last week's 2-0 first leg win at home to Italian giants Inter Milan left them well-placed to reach the quarter-finals.

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