Is one American owner better than two?
Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Liverpool’s co-owners, have agreed to forego their mutual veto on the sale of each other’s shares in a bid to break the stalemate surrounding the future of the club.
Under their current ownership arrangement, each partner would have to seek the other’s blessing to sell all, or part, of their shareholdings.
The remaining partner would also be entitled to two per cent of the other’s shares, thus becoming majority partner with any new investor. However, it is believed that Hicks has given Gillett his blessing to seek a buyer for his half of the club, although the Texan is thought to be determined to retain his 50 per cent.
Gillett is due to meet the Saudi prince, Faisal Al Fahd bin Abdullah bin Saud in the Middle East next week, when he is expected to continue discussions over the prince’s potential investment in Liverpool.
The two have already struck up a deal to launch a number of club academies across the Middle East and north Africa, and sources close to the prince confirmed this week he could take a stake in the club despite concerns over the level of debt.
Sources close to Hicks and Gillett, though, insist he is just one of a number of possible partners identified by Merrill Lynch and Rothschild, the investment banks jointly appointed by the American duo.
No deal with the prince is believed to be imminent, with discussions due with a number of other parties, although Hicks’ decision not to veto the idea of Gillett finding an exit route suggests that both parties have accepted their days as partners are numbered. (Daily Telegraph)
On the face of it, it seems that this is actually quite positive news. George Gillett could well be about to leave but some rumours suggest that Tom Hicks may actually try to fight for more control over the club, which doesn’t sound quite so promising. In an ideal world, once Prince Faisal gets his foot in the door he could buy out the remaining American owner, but that may be easier said than done.
The bickering Yanks are a real embarrassment to the club but with Gillett gone the power could go straight to Hicks’ head and then god knows where we will end up. It could be that Hicks see this as a good chance to make a mint from his share of the club and fingers crossed the Saudis will take full control in the long term.
This is not a case of showing blind faith to a party we know very little about, but more a case of anyone being preferable to Messrs Hicks and Gillett.