An evening of drama at Anfield was concluded with the following statement from the less than brilliant mind of Tom Hicks, on behalf of the ownership of Liverpool Football Club, that he shares with George Gillett in infamous fashion.
The Tom Hicks Statement:
“In April, we confirmed our agreement to sell Liverpool Football Club, and appointed a new chairman and advisers to oversee the process.
At that time we and Martin Broughton stated our commitment to finding the right buyer for LFC, one that could support and sustain the club in the future. We remain committed to that goal.
The owners have invested more than $270 million in cash into the club, and during their tenure revenues have nearly doubled, investment in players has increased and the club is one of the most profitable in the EPL.
As such, the board has been presented with offers that we believe dramatically undervalue the club.
To be clear, there is no change in our commitment to finding a buyer for Liverpool Football Club at a fair price that reflects the very significant investment we’ve made.
We will however, resist any attempt to sell the club without due process or agreement by the owners.”
Earlier events in the day had raised the suggestion of progression in the sale process of the club, after news leaked that two bids had been tabled for the club, one of American origin and the other from Asia, which was quickly confirmed by Bloomberg. Whilst media and fans alike scrambled to put names to the believed bids and try and establish an early level of viability to them in their own minds, the american owners were already starting to feel the effects of further fan hatred through the You Tube released “Dr Mr Hicks” video.
Whilst it is just a little too coincidental from a PR perspective, that news of possible interested investors reached the media in such quick succession to the release of the video, its effect was also just as inevitable. Such news was never going to silence the ever rising army against them, armed with social media pitch forks, or stop them from continuing in their objectives but it would always cause a moment of reflection and absorption, whether the end result was belief in it or not.
As news materialised that the owners had tried and failed to remove the much maligned managing director Christian Purslow from the board, along with commercial director Ian Ayre, at a board vote in favour of their own staff, in the form of Mack Hicks and Lori Kay McCutcheon, many contemplated while George Gillett appeared to be keeping opinions to himself in the public realm, if this was indeed the start of Tom Hicks last throw of the dice for deluded glory.
Accompanied by information that the American bid was believed to be masterminded by John W. Henry and his New England Sports Ventures, parent company to the Boston Red Sox baseball team, a level of reservation was felt from previous experience but also hope that better days could potentially be a step nearer. Henry is not only a successful businessman but has re-energised the Red Sox since taking over into a double title winning side and a commercially astute and inventive business. Also, not just a business that Forbes recognises as the 10th most successful brand in global sport but one that extends passion and commitment to its fans and staff, which is very much received back by them as a general consensus.
As Liverpool moved to confirm both the board activity and the two “excellent” offers in front of them, the words although not at all unsurprisingly, missing from the statement such as investors names, stadium, funding, resource, timescale will continue to be the ones that need answering the most, the mention of “is now subject to legal review” though gave every indication of an obstacle course to come. Although legal review would form part of the process of any purchase, especially one on this scale, a late attempt to control the voting the club via his own voices, showed as many expected, that Tom Hicks would not be one to go quietly as the club tried to conclude this long running game of chess.
Shortly afterwards, via his own sources, the above statement of Tom Hicks reached the media, albeit one that Liverpool FC did not publish to their own website. Hicks was quick to state their resistance to a bid of the level received, as he continues to try and pull any profit possible from a club that they have laden with debt beyond their control and which continues to spiral further.
While Hicks is likely to have his homework handed back to him tomorrow for failing to realise that the £270m of “significant investment” he mentions they imparted, was actually someone elses money that he cannot cover, Liverpool fans will continue to wait for news that “Dear Mr Hicks…” via either the hand of RBS or that of his own board, has in fact got him checkmate.