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Hicks confirms DIC talks over stadium finance

By Agencies


Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks said he discussed selling part of the Premier League club to a Dubai-based group.

The Texan talked with Dubai International Capital, which lost out to Hicks and co-owner George Gillett Jr in last March’s takeover, about funding Liverpool’s new stadium, which is expected to cost £400 million (Dh2.9bn).

“I did talk to them once about a 10 to 15 per cent participation, but that was months ago, and we gave them a valuation,” Hicks told the British Broadcasting Corporation radio in an interview broadcast on Sunday.“ They thought the valuation was too high so we’ve had no conversations of substance since then.

“That would have been a minority investor and we would have used that capital to help build the new stadium, but we’ll find other ways to capitalise the new stadium here in a couple of years. Right now we’ve got the capital.”

The BBC report said there had been further negotiations with DIC in the past week, but did not elaborate.

Despite mounting protests by fans against American ownership, Hicks said he was committed long-term to Liverpool and dismissed claims he plans to offload the club.

“Absolutely not… that was never a serious possibility and it certainly isn’t today,” Hicks said. “I can’t think of a price I’d want to have any interest in selling at all. There is no question in my mind that I will still be an owner of Liverpool Football Club in five years.”


Liverpool are planning to build a new stadium on parkland adjacent to their current Anfield home, though the plans have been changed and delayed several times.

To help fund the Stanley Park replacement and refinance the loan used to purchase the Reds, Hicks and Gillett completed a £350-million (Dh2.5bn) refinancing package on Friday.

“We’re happy to get it behind us, it should have happened weeks ago,” Hicks said. “We ought to line up all the lawyers and shoot them.”

The package leaves the club with debt topping £105 million (Dh756m).

The owners have contributed the bulk of the finances, £225 million (Dh1.6bn) in cash, letters of credit and personal guarantees.

“I’ve put in a lot of money, we will put in more if we need to,” Hicks said. “We’re going to plan the best football stadium in the world and will get our permanent capital when we need to further down the run.”

The deal was reached with the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia Bank, replacing a previous financing arrangement that was due to expire next month.

"I'm really excited about the future of the club, it will be the finest stadium in the world and everyone in Liverpool should be very proud of it," Hicks said.

Hicks also owns NHL team Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers baseball club and said he had a "real passion" for all three clubs.

"I want to win the support of our fans with my actions and get out of the tabloids," he said.

"I think it's a great long-term way to invest my money with what I believe is going to happen with global TV and internet growth of teams.

"I love baseball, I love hockey and I love English football." I'm a big fan. I watch every game on TV and wish I could come over to every game, but it's a long way - though I hope to come to more."

Of Liverpool's current situation, where they trail leaders Manchester United by 14 points and struggled to get past minor league Havant and Waterlooville in the FA Cup on Saturday," Hicks said: "We could do better, the players know that, Rafa knows that. It's all about how we play and it's time for this club to win.


Hicks also put his full support behind manager Rafael Benitez on Sunday, saying he expected the Spaniard to remain in charge for the remaining two years of his contract and maybe beyond.

Hicks and fellow American George Gillett had a falling out with Benitez last year after the manager criticised them over their financing of transfers, but both sides have since said they are now on good terms.

"We have a great manager who has our support," Hicks told BBC Radio 5-Live on Sunday.

"We had a lot of consternation about Rafa. After our meeting of December 16, where he really showed his real strong intent to do the right thing with us and by the club, he's been a gentleman ever since.

"We've had much better communication and he's got my total backing. We funded transfer requests in January, we are talking about more in the summer. We've never turned down Rafa's request for money for any player he's asked for.

"He's got a contract for two more years and hopefully longer than that." (AFP/Reuters)