Morgan insists Reds need fresh investment

Liverpool’s mounting debt and their failure to secure funds to finance new stadium plans came under fire from shareholders at the club’s AGM at Anfield.

Liverpool’s mounting debt and their failure to secure funds to finance new stadium plans came under fire from shareholders at the club’s AGM at Anfield.

Manager Rafael Benitez received a rapturous reception at the meeting after the club’s Champions League triumph.

But the club’s third largest shareholder Steve Morgan – a long-standing critic of the board – questioned the size of debt.

Morgan also pleaded with the club to sort out the financial package needed to save the Stanley Park new stadium scheme, which acting chairman Keith Clayton admitted would now cost approaching £160m.

The club’s accounts revealed the net overall debt is £17m, but Morgan - who has three times tried to buy into the club – insisted the total debt was over £70m.

Morgan said: “When you take into account creditors and the worsening financial conditions, the debt I believe is nearer to £73m.

“It is now imperative to get extra financial investment, we are on a dangerous line and new investment is needed sooner rather than later.”

With chairman David Moores and senior director Noel White both unavailable due to illness, director Keith Clayton was acting chairman, and he said: “It is still our view that we need further investment to sustain success on the field and the new stadium.

“Progress is being made but for commercial reasons we cannot say anything at the moment, we are bound by confidentiality.

“We had hoped to be able to announce something at this meeting but that has not been possible. We are at a critical point of our history and we need to get this right. There will be a further statement in the future.”

He added: “We need funds and progress is being made. But we accept that the estimate of £160m for the new stadium is not far away from the figure, but we do have contingency plans here at Anfield, plans B and C.”

Morgan added: “We still need investment. Manchester United still make double what we do on match days.

“All I can say to the board is that we have been waiting for over two and a half years and we need the investment sorted out.”

Shareholders criticised the fact that Liverpool are playing on the date of the Hillsborough tragedy, April 15.

Their game against Blackburn has now been moved to 5.15pm for that day so as not to clash with the memorial service, but the decision to play was roundly criticised.

The financial report shows that the club made a profit after tax of £7.53m on the year which included their European triumph in Istanbul, compared to the previous year’s loss of £18.22m.

But the net debt has risen from £15.38m to £17.14m.

The accounts will also reveal that the club have cut their wage bill from £66m to £64m, which is 53% of overall turnover, compared to 72% the previous year.

Turnover on the back of the Champions League success, which includes increased merchandising, has risen by 32% to £121.05m, compared to the previous year’s £91.57m.

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