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May 6, 2010

Bick: Liverpool face battle with interest payments

David Bick, chairman of Square 1 Consulting, has exposed the depth of the financial crisis gripping Liverpool, with the club facing a struggle to keep up with interest payments on their debts.

• Finance expert predicts bleak future

The city expert in football finances, with links to Keith Harris, who was involved in two takeover bids at Liverpool, has now informed Soccernet of the deepening threat to Liverpool, with top players liable to be sold as a consequence of their failure to reach the Champions League.

Bick told Soccernet: "I fear that, looking at the figures, Liverpool are in grave danger of not being able to continue to pay their interest bill for very much longer. Based on the existing figures, the interest repayments on the loans are £36 million a year.

"It's not clear when the cash from this season's Champions League comes in, but it is clear there is going to be a big hole for not being in it next season. The starting point is £20 million, maybe as much as £40 million, maybe even more.

"The city is aware that Liverpool will be posting a £35 million operating profit to July 31, but from what I can see the club will be running out of cash by the end of the year.

"A deal has been struck, which seemed to have been kept under the radar, that the Royal Bank of Scotland gave the club a six-month extension, and that might be connected to the owners agreeing to have Martin Broughton in as the independent chairman. Usually, RBS has granted the club only a year-on-year extension, but for some reason it has been extended already by six months.

''That means that the club have until Christmas to sort it all out, but with Tom Hicks saying this week it could take two years to sell - that is the wrong message. It sounds as though the club will have little to no choice but to sell their best players. We all know how that works, the reality of this game, that if a bid comes in and the player wants to go, you cannot stop him.

"If Liverpool sell their best player, lose their manager, it is downhill from there, as the competition isn't getting easier - it is intensifying. Spurs are in the Champions League and Manchester City will spend their way into contention, so where does this leave Liverpool?"

Bick argues that Liverpool's real value is £300 million rather than the £800 million Tom Hicks and George Gillett have been asking. Bick added: "I would say the true value of Liverpool is £300 million, no more than £350 million, and to suggest £800 million is ludicrous.

"But even if there is a buyer willing to pay £300 million, it would be pointless unless they had the funds for a new stadium, otherwise it just won't work."

This week, on Soccernet, Bick revealed how Liverpool are in urgent need of a "rescue" package rather than a takeover, as the club must move from their crumbling Anfield to a new stadium.

Bick is an advisor to Keith Harris, who has been behind two abortive takeover bids for the stricken club. While Harris is a leading light in the Red Knights group heavily linked with trying to buy out the Glazers at Manchester United, Bick has focused on their local rivals and warns of an impending £10 million fee to be imposed by the Royal Bank of Scotland to extend bank loan facilities for a further six months.

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