Liverpool owners under pressure after €48m loss

LIVERPOOL’S American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett may face difficult decisions regarding their continued involvement at Anfield but the future of the club is not under threat.

The pair have just over six weeks to agree a refinancing package on the loan they took out to buy the Barclays Premier League side in 2007.

Accountants KPMG expressed concern over the level of debt being incurred by Kop Football Holdings, Liverpool’s parent company, after it posted losses of £42.6 (€ 48) million in the year ending July 2008.

Most of that was a result of £36m (€41m) of interest payments on a loan of £350m (€400m) — which has to be renegotiated by July 24. However, suggestions Liverpool are facing financial meltdown have been dismissed by sources close to the American duo as “totally wide of the mark”.

The club itself posted profits of £10.2m(€11.4m) but that was swallowed up by the huge interest payments of the parent company.

“The owners seem remarkably relaxed about it, which can only be a good sign,” an insider said. “There is no threat to the club. Liverpool’s profitability and profits are up. There are other clubs who are considerably more in debt than Liverpool are.”

Hicks and Gillett are confident they can refinance the loan in time for the July deadline.

However, leading football financial experts believe in the long term they need a huge influx of cash from outside or they will have to sell up.

In January Kuwaiti billionaire Nasser Al-Kharafi offered £425m (€486) for control but the Americans only want to sell 50%.

“It is quite difficult but not impossible to get debt refinanced but it is absolutely not the ideal time to be negotiating debt positions,” said Vinay Bedi, divisional director of investment management firm Brewin Dolphin based in Newcastle.

Paul Rice, chairman of the leading fans group Spirit of Shankly, called on the Royal Bank of Scotland — with whom the Americans have their loan — to call in the debt.

“The revelations underline Hicks and Gillett’s utter failure as owners,” he told the Liverpool Echo.”

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox