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Sep 18, 2010

Liverpool on the edge as Hicks plans move

Liverpool "teeter on the edge of a financial abyss" as ESPNsoccernet has learned that the proposed takeover plans of Tom Hicks could land the club with crippling interest repayments.

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On the eve of Liverpool's clash with Manchester United, the depth of the crisis now threatening Anfield has seen Hicks plan to buy out George Gillett and refinance the Royal Bank of Scotland debt, effectively taking full control of the club.

Hicks reportedly outlined his plans to use Blackstone, a private equity firm, to refinance, but the deal could see Liverpool end up with debt far greater than Manchester United.

"It is sure to lead to extortionate interest rates, which will leave Liverpool more in hock than ever before,'' a banking source told ESPNsoccernet. ''It is a recipe for disaster for the club but it would give Hicks the time he needs to sell the club for the price he is trying to get."

The fans, though, are beginning to fear the worst for Liverpool and 'The Spirit of Shankly' fans group have seen documents which make worrying reading for the Anfield faithful.

''The Spirit of Shankly Supporters' Union have received information regarding Barclays Capital and the state of Liverpool Football Club's finances over the Summer of 2010,'' an e-mail from the group read. ''While the original copy document is not in the Union's possession, a full and accurate copy of it has been made.

''The document throws up many questions about the public messages coming from Martin Broughton, the Club and Barclays Capital underlining again that Liverpool Football Club teeters on the edge of a financial abyss.''

The group have highlighted some main points, which show the full extent of the financial situation at Liverpool, including the fact that, in the period July to August, the club's debt was increased by £20.8 million. Also, they have revealed that the sum currently required to refinance the club (£300 million) can be reduced to £187.5 million through using the proceeds of a £75 million loan to the holding company in Delaware and by rolling £37.5 million into the proposed loan for the new stadium

ESPNsoccernet understands that Liverpool's board will attempt to attempt to block Hicks' efforts to remain in control at Anfield, but could be powerless if the Texan refinances.

''If Blackstone's GSO [a specialist off-shoot that deals with companies in big financial trouble], lent Hicks the money, it is like buying a lottery ticket for Hicks,'' the source added. ''If the term is two years, or anything up to five years, he has bought that time to find a buyer at the terms he wants.

"For Liverpool it would mean bigger interest fees, bigger interest repayments, and by the end of the term, Blackstone's could end up owning the club and Hicks would have to walk away, if he cannot find a buyer.

''If Hicks extends his control by pulling off this refinancing then Liverpool will become the next Leeds United.''

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