The on-going saga of the ownership of English Premier League club Liverpool has taken another twist as co-owner Tom Hicks stating he may block George Gillett Jr. if he tries to sell his 50 per cent stake in the club.
|George Gillett Jr, left, and Tom Hicks: Cooling |
Hicks, who has said he is not interested in selling his portion of the team, and Gillett cannot sell their stakes without the other's consent.
"Not only am I not going to sell, my partner cannot sell without my approval,'' Hicks told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
"So, I kind of have the ability to determine the outcome of what is going to happen, and I am right in the middle of that.''
The comments are the first public indication of a possible breakdown in the relationship between the two American businessmen since they bought Liverpool last March.
A breakdown which has been rumoured for months.
DIC step up interest
Meanwhile, reports suggest the Dubai International Capital is stepping up its pursuit of the five-time European champions and is in regular contact with Gillett.
DIC, the private-equity investment arm of the Dubai government, is only interested in buying Gillett's shares if it can gain control of Liverpool.
That would involve Hicks selling at least part of his stake.
"For a lot of reasons I can't discuss, I haven't been able to fix it yet,'' Hicks, who also owns baseball's Texas Rangers and the NHL's Dallas Stars, told the Star-Telegram of the club's ownership.
"But I am preparing to be in a position to fix it.''
On Tuesday, Hicks told the Associated Press in an e-mail that he is committed to Liverpool "regardless'' of the actions of Gillett, who also owns the Montreal Canadiens.
Gillett and Hicks bought Liverpool for $431 million in March 2007, which included an agreement to pay off about $89 million of debt and a pledge to build and finance a 60,000-seat stadium.
Gillett has taken a back seat in recent months, along with his son Foster Gillett, who is a director.
Instead, Hicks has been the main spokesman for the co-owners in public statements.
Fans have been turning against the American owners, who have been in a power struggle with popular manager Rafa Benitez over player transfers.
Hicks has acknowledged he sought out former Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann as a possible replacement for Benitez in November.
Fans live the dream
A group of Liverpool fans is also hoping to buy the club from the Americans.
Share Liverpool FC is trying to raise $990 million by asking fans to pledge $9,900 each.
Former Liverpool players Phil Thompson and John Aldridge are among 9,500 people who have pledged to donate money to the member-share scheme.