Liverpool in the Premier League Era – Part 13
By TTT Subscriber Anthony Stanley.
On 24th of May 2007, the morning after Liverpool’s narrow defeat to Milan in the Champions League Final, Rafa Benitez publically demanded backing in the transfer market from the club’s new owners.
‘(They) say they will support us, but now is not the time to talk but to take decisions. It’s not just about new faces, it’s about the structure of the club.’
At the time, the press conference did not garner huge attention and it was more a case of most Liverpool supporters agreeing with the manager. David Moores had initially decided to sell the club because he knew – in the age of the uber squads of Chelsea and Manchester United, when these two financial behemoths could routinely fork out eye-watering fees for average players – that he was no longer able to financially compete. Added to this was the long-mooted move to a new stadium in Stanley Park; a contentious issue and one that would be a huge monetary endeavour. Despite comfortably and routinely finishing in the top four, the Reds had lacked the real muscle to go after the absolute top talent that would transform them into a side capable of mounting a sustained challenge for the Premier League title.
Tom Hicks and George Gillett had acquired Liverpool Football Club the previous February for a fee in the region of £172 million but as far back as 2004, the Reds’ board had been looking for investment to help fund the stadium issue and the playing staff. The billionaire prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, had offered £65 million for a 30% stake in the club while local businessman Steve Morgan had made a counter-offer of a reported £73 million. Both were ultimately rejected; the rising fears about alleged human rights’ abuse in Thailand were possibly a major factor in the refusal of Shinawatra’s offer while, in Morgan’s case, the Liverpool board claimed the offer ‘undervalued’ the club. Two years later, after tentatively exploring the near sacrilegious notion of sharing a new stadium with Everton, Moores and chief executive Rick Parry were still looking for investment when a consortium representing Dubai International Capital (DIC) made a reported £156 million offer for the club, with additional funds promised for stadium development; the package was said to be around £450 million. Though there were more whisperings of DIC having a less than perfect human rights’ record (it is an arm of the Dubai government and its ruling family), the board seemed keen to accept the deal (and apparently Moores had shaken hands on the buyout), but ultimately Moores and Parry walked away – right into the waiting arms of Hicks and Gillett, two American sports and property tycoons, who had raised the offer for the club to £172 million, plus promised funds for the development of the stadium.
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