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Mar 4, 2013

Liverpool debts rise to £87.2 million

Liverpool's debts rose to £87.2 million last season, but managing director Ian Ayre has told the club's fans there is no reason to be alarmed.

Ayre said Liverpool's American owners, Fenway Sports Group, would continue to give manager Brendan Rodgers the backing he needs to improve his squad.

The latest accounts, covering the period from August 1 2011 to May 31 2012 and released on Monday, showed that the club's debt went up by £21.8 million.

But Ayre highlighted the cost of rebuilding a squad without any European football under Kenny Dalglish last season as a major factor in that, and said Liverpool had been working hard to reduce the size of their wage bill under Rodgers, who replaced Dalglish as manager in June.

During the period covered by the accounts, significant instalments were due on the £20 million purchase of Stewart Downing from Aston Villa and the £16 million purchase of Jordan Henderson from Sunderland.

Liverpool also signed seven players, including Jose Enrique, Sebastian Coates and Craig Bellamy, and extended the contracts of five more, most notably that of captain Steven Gerrard. In addition, eight youngsters were given professional contracts.

Eight players were transferred from the club, while three more - Alberto Aquilani, Joe Cole and Daniel Pacheco - left on loan.

Ayre said an interest-free loan of £46.8 million by FSG had since reduced the debt. That money paid off the £37.8 million balance on a loan taken out to fund stadium projects, which include current plans to redevelop Anfield as well as costs relating to two previous proposals to build a new ground in neighbouring Stanley Park.

The rest of the FSG loan has gone towards servicing the club's credit facility.

Ayre said Liverpool's growing commercial revenues provided a reason to be optimistic about the financial future, telling the Liverpool Echo: "We will continue to invest in the squad - I think that is what our fans would expect.

"But the most important thing is that we do it prudently and in a sustainable way that is affordable, and that we all have our sights on the same goal - success."

A record-breaking six-year kit deal with kit supplier Warrior, worth £25 million a season, is not included in the accounts, lodged with Companies House.

That will be detailed in the next set of accounts, which Ayre believes will show Liverpool are moving in the right direction off the field.

He said: "The key message for me is that we are continuing to transition to the point we have been working on for several years under this ownership - which is to continue to improve revenues and manage our cost base effectively.

"The biggest cost base, without doubt, is player trading and player wages - but these accounts demonstrate that we are still working hard to improve that."

Despite the debt increase, Liverpool's annual pre-tax loss fell from £49.3 million to £40.5 million in 2011-12.

Ayre added: "Nobody in a position of authority would say it is a good set of accounts where you lose money in any business. But you have to take them in the context of the place that we are in the journey we are on."

The accounts only cover a ten-month period, meaning those released next year will fall into line with the playing season.

They show a turnover of £169 million which, taken over a full year, would have translated to a rise of just over £5 million on the previous year.

Ayre added: "The unaudited turnover was £188.7 million - an increase on last year's £183.6 million. So we are growing - we continue to grow."

The accounts also show exceptional costs totalling £9.6 million, which include settlements with several high-profile employees who left the club.

They are understood to include Dalglish, former director of football Damien Comolli and head of sports science Peter Brukner.

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