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GILLETT BACKSTABS HICKS

Hicks

Exclusive by Chris Bascombe

LIVERPOOL are praying a form of Merseyside GBH will come to their rescue — Gillett Backstabbing Hicks.

Anfield co-owner George Gillett brought his feud with partner Tom Hicks to the fore by refusing to publicly back a £350million refinancing deal.

Gillett signed up to the agreement before the February 5 deadline to protect his own investment — but privately he does not believe holding on to Liverpool is in the Americans' or the club's best interest.

His son, Foster, left his office at Melwood two weeks ago and there are no plans for his return.

It appeared Hicks had seen off the latest challenge from Dubai International Capital (DIC) by signing a debt-ridden agreement with the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia.

But takeover talks are continuing, with DIC not walking away as they sense the split between the owners leaves the door open for a £250m bid for the whole club — beginning with a fresh move to buy Hicks' share.

The Americans have an existing £105m debt secured against the club's assets.

And even though the pair claim to have obtained less borrowing than feared, Liverpool still face £450m worth of debts once they begin work on the new stadium (below).

As well as the £105m debt, they still need a £300m loan to build the stadium.

With interest payments in the region of £18m a year, a vast transfer kitty to challenge for the title before 2011 looks non-existent.

Title

A Kop source admitted: "The fact is, under the current financial proposals, there isn't a hope of Liverpool challenging for the title until the new stadium is built in three years. It doesn't matter whether Rafa Benitez, Arsene Wenger or Sir Alex Ferguson is in charge. It's an impossible task."

The fragility of the Americans' reign continues to make them vulnerable to the renewed interest from DIC, especially as fundamental questions remain unanswered.

It has yet to be revealed how the latest £350m loan will be repaid within an 18-month deadline, since the new stadium will not be built until 2011.

Multi-million pound interest payments will also ensure any Champions League earnings are swiftly swallowed up.

And a top-four finish is no longer a ‘minimum acceptable requirement' at Anfield — it will be essential in order to prevent financial meltdown.

That has not stopped Hicks insisting funding will be available for players. But the fact that this will come straight from the banks ought to immediately concern Reds supporters.

Hicks is holding on, despite the manager, fans and even members of his own board wanting him out.

Questions have also been raised as to how long two more established figures will survive.

Chief executive Rick Parry and former chairman David Moores now feel like strangers at their own club.

Blame

A year ago, Moores led a club £60m in debt, with a £300m bank loan the only realistic option to keep stadium plans on track. The chairman opted against this, fearing he would lack the funds to strengthen the squad. He sold to Hicks and Gillett, convinced the duo had deep pockets.

Instead, they have created a much worse scenario.

Having led the opposition to Hicks behind the scenes, Moores and Parry are attempting to win back the Kop fans who blame them for inviting the bogeyman into their club.

But the Anfield faithful are in no mood for forgiveness.

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