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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 27, 2008

Hicks backs Benitez and has no plans to sell

LONDON, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Liverpool joint-owner Tom Hicks 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 Dec. 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.'

Hicks and Gillett completed a re-financing deal on Friday that should allow them to go ahead with the building of a new stadium and said they did not expect any investment from Dubai International Capital (DIC), after the group declined the chance to become a minority owner.

Asked if he planned to sell the club to the DIC, Hicks said: 'Absolutely not. That was never a serious possibility and certainly isn't today. I can't think of a price that I would think of having any interest in selling at all.

'I did talk to them once about a 10-15 percent participation. We gave them a valuation we would accept a minority investor at but they thought the valuation was too high.

'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 changed and been delayed several times.

'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.

'But we are on our way, we are going to build the greatest stadium, we have a great manager, we have great fans. It's time to put the press frenzy behind us and move down the road.'