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20 April 2024

DIC poised to target both Liverpool owners

By Jim Bruce-Ball and Derick Allsop


Liverpool's American owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, were fending off renewed speculation last night that they are on the verge of selling the club.

Dubai International Capital, the investment arm of the Dubai government, is understood to be launching a £500m (Dh3.6bn) bid to buy the Anfield club.

It had been suggested during the week that DIC - headed by Liverpool fan Sameer Al Ansari - is prepared to make an offer for Hicks' 50 per cent share, but now it seems that they are willing to buy out both of them.

Hicks and Gillett beat DIC to buying the club this time last year but their reign has been a turbulent one, reaching its nadir last week when Hicks admitted that they had sounded out Jurgen Klinsmann to replace Rafa Benitez as manager.

The club refused to comment on the speculation last night but, with a fans' protest planned against the owners for Liverpool's Premier League match against Aston Villa at Anfield tomorrow night, it may be that the pair feel the time is right to sell up.

Gillett and Hicks have been attempting to finalise terms on a £350m (Dh2.5bn) loan that would enable them to repay, by next month's deadline, money they borrowed for last year's £219m (Dh1.6bn) takeover, repay loans used to sign players and allow them to start work on a re-scaled plan for a new stadium in Stanley Park. But DIC, who rejected spending £150m (Dh1.1bn) for a 15 per cent stake in the club last October, may be offering the pair a get-out clause they cannot resist.

Benitez, meanwhile, insisted last night that he would not be leaving the club and suggested that he may outlast the Americans at Anfield.

He said: "I know you must ask [about my position at the club], but I will not say anything. But I have a lot of confidence that I will be sitting in this chair in a year's time.

"I have two and a half years of my contract left and I will try to do my best.

"A lot of the players have asked me what's going on. Keep going is the answer. I tell them the most important thing here is the club. We must do our best for the club and the fans. The commitment of the players is 100 per cent. They know they must keep going and do their job. That's my message."

Benitez believes the Liverpool production line will ensure a supply of fresh talent in the years to come and enable the club to reclaim the prize the supporters crave above all others - the Premier League title.

"In the Champions League we are much better than anyone else in England," he said. "If you analyse the last three years, we are the best English team in Europe." (The Daily Telegraph)