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Sep 17, 2010

Liverpool reject Hicks power play

Liverpool have rejected a proposed refinancing strategy from co-owner Tom Hicks that could have given the American increased control at Anfield.

Hicks personally delivered his proposal direct to the Liverpool board in a showdown meeting ahead of the club's Europa League tie, and was told that his plans were not acceptable.

In fact, Hicks was left in no doubt of the board's resolve to find new owners and end his turbulent reign - alongside fellow American George Gillett - at the Premier League giants.

Hicks wants to buy out the £237 million Royal Bank of Scotland debt which is threatening to end his joint ownership of the club when the facility expires on deadline of October 6. He is hoping to raise funds from US banks to raise the funds to buy out RBS, possibly using the players and stadium as collateral.

Hicks has moved to thwart the possibility of RBS temporarily taking control of Liverpool and selling it off at a rock bottom price, far less than Hicks and Gillett believed it to be worth when they originally put the club up for sale at £800 million a year ago.

The price has since plummeted and might now be worth as little as £150 million. With no creditable buyer yet in public sight, Hicks is trying desperately to retain control, if not total control, and hold out in the hope of finding someone who will pay more later.

With Gillett's finances in a parlous state, and with the possibility that he might default on other loans and ultimately lose his 50% stake in Liverpool, his partner Hicks is attempting to refinance alone and gain total control.

The Liverpool board are having none of that, believing an extension of the Hicks and Gillett ownership, even if it reverts to Hicks, would only prolong the financial misery.

Meanwhile, to ESPNsoccernet, Liverpool have refuted claims that they have sought advance funding from the Premier League from TV revenues and sponsorship payments as their financial situation is starting to alarm fiscal experts.

A fire sale of players in the January transfer window cannot be ruled out, according to ESPNsoccernet sources, but that would be one of the last resorts to shore up the ailing finances.

Under the circumstances Liverpool have already given assurances to the Premier League that they can fulfil all their fixtures for this season. A similar undertaking has been given to UEFA about the club's participation in the Europa League.

ESPNsoccernet approached Liverpool to ask: "Can the club still afford the players' huge monthly wage bill, considering the club are now in the red?"

A club spokesman said: "Liverpool FC has prudent working capital facilities that allow the Club to make proper provision for outgoings as and when they arise. These working capital facilities are totally satisfactory to both the Premier League and UEFA."

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