Liverpool co-owner George Gillett is so determined to make a statement of intent at Anfield tonight that he has insisted that his Dubai International Capital guests sit in the directors’ box.
Colorado-based Gillett will not be at the Champions League semi-final first leg with Chelsea due to ill health, but his entourage – including son and fellow director Foster – will be entertaining the DIC officials.
Senior negotiator Amanda Staveley and DIC chief executive Samir Al-Ansari are expected to attend.
Initially there were concerns that their presence would be seen as a provocative move and plans were put in place for the DIC contingent to be housed in an executive box away from the view of fans and cameras.
But Gillett, when he heard of the move, is believed to have insisted that DIC were his guests and they were entitled to be seated in the directors’ box.
That could be confrontational if Gillett’s estranged business partner Tom Hicks does, as expected, also attend the European tie with his own son Tom Jnr, also a director.
All the warring parties in the drawn-out saga would then be seated in close proximity. Chief executive Rick Parry, who Hicks wants to remove from the club, and former owner and now director David Moores, will also be in their usual front-row seats.
Security will be high at the stadium and Hicks can expect anything but a friendly reception from the Kop, who have been chanting for the Americans to “get out of our club” for months.
And the seating plan in the directors’ box will make it easy for photographers and TV cameras to capture every move.
Gillett wants to sell his 50% stake to DIC, who have also been trying to buy out Hicks.
But the Dallas-based billionaire pulled the plug on any deal last month, and DIC have since taken a back seat to see how the situation develops, aware of the financial problems Hicks could soon be facing as he tries to fund the club’s new stadium.
Hicks’ belligerent television interview last week, viewed by many as a PR stunt and described by Parry as a “sideshow”, seemed to suggest that the Texan was digging in for a long battle.
But DIC have never given up hope and now Gillett’s invitation is a massive statement of intent.