Liverpool’s co-owner Tom Hicks on Monday night threw the future of the club back into turmoil by terminating discussions with the Dubai royal family.
In a shock move, the Texan business tycoon broke off talks with Dubai International Capital (DIC), who had been confident of sewing up a deal to buy out 49% of co-owner George Gillett’s 50% stake.
Hicks had to give the go-ahead for that move – but instead he has exercised his right of veto, saying he was unwilling to manage the club with DIC “by committee”.
DIC said they had no comment to make, but sources close to the deal believe Hicks’ statement does not necessarily mean the end of the story and the investment arm of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, could yet clinch a stake in the club.
Hicks’ statement read: “Based on a meeting held earlier today in Dubai between my representatives and officials of Dubai International Capital LLC, as well as other recent contacts between us and them, I have decided to terminate any further discussions with DIC regarding their possible purchase of a minority stake in Kop and, in turn, in the club.
“DIC made it clear that if they invested in the club, they would want it to be managed by committee.
“Based on my 13 years of successful experience as an owner of professional sports teams, and based in particular on the situation at Liverpool Football Club over the past year, it is clear to me that such a committee approach would not be in the best interest of Kop, of the club or of the club’s loyal and passionate supporters.
“Accordingly, I have decided to exercise my right under the Kop Football (Holdings) Limited partnership agreement to veto any sale of any portion of Kop and the club to DIC.”
Hicks added there were other alternatives to pursue.
He said: “I and my colleagues and representatives will continue to explore a number of other options with regard to the ownership of Kop and the club aimed at achieving an appropriate ownership, financial and organisational structure for Kop and the club over the long term.”
The only chance of a deal being rekindled is if Hicks’ statement is merely an attempt to force DIC and Gillett to accept his terms.
A DIC spokesman said only: “We have no comment to make.”
Either way, the relationship between the parties appears to have broken down - something that could be a problem if they were to be co-owners of the club in the future.
As far as Liverpool are concerned however, it is back to square one with Hicks and Gillett at loggerheads – even more so now the Texan has vetoed the sale - and there are only 17 months until the £350million loan the Americans took out in January has to be refinanced again.
Furthermore, another loan of around £300million will have to be taken out to finance the building of the new stadium at Stanley Park.