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Sep 11, 2009

Gillett: Liverpool in "outstanding" financial shape

Liverpool co-owner George Gillett has claimed that the Premier League club has "never been stronger" from an economic perspective, while underlining that he has a long-term view of his association with the Reds.

Questions were raised regarding Liverpool's financial muscle during the summer transfer window but Gillett, who purchased the club along with Tom Hicks, is adamant that the economic situation at Liverpool is very much robust.

Having purchased the club for £435m in 2007, with money borrowed from both Wachovia and the Royal Bank of Scotland, he and co-owner Hicks were forced to refinance their debts in July. Doing so, says Gillett, has put the club on solid financial ground.

"The club is in outstanding shape," he told The Fan 590 - a Toronto radio station. "Economically, it's never been stronger. We just paid down our debt very substantially. We have less debt per dollar than any club in the league."

To make the payments, Gillett sold his interest in the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey club, valued at £200m ($334m) by Forbes magazine. Worth an estimated £660m ($1.1bn) in November 2007, a full year before the economic downturn, he was forced to sell one of his sports properties to fulfil what he termed "family commitments". The Canadiens, he admitted, were simply more sellable than Liverpool.

As for the tenure of his Liverpool ownership, Gillett stated that an assumption that he was in it for the long haul was "probably the correct conclusion". But, he added, "If someone gets beamed in who's got bags of money, things may change."

Gillett also confirmed that Liverpool will unveil a new shirt sponsor on September 18, stating: "I think people will be pleased and surprised. It will be one of the great, worldwide corporations. And I think it will be a sponsor people will be pleased and surprised to be [associated with] Liverpool."

Addressing the club's demand for tickets - which he estimated at 75,000 - he said both he and Hicks would revisit their plans for a new stadium "as the world economy gets better - if and when it gets better."

"We were going to build an iconic stadium previously," he said. "The world economy has certainly suggested that that would be a good suggestion. But in the normal world, building a stadium in the 65,000 to 75,000 seat range - we would look forward to that."

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