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"How can you ask that?" said an aghast David Moores. "Of course they're the right people for the club," writes Chris Bascombe.

It was just six months ago that Liverpool's former chairman chastised the reporter who dared suggest Anfield's American dream was not what was presented in the brochure.

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In the eyes of the Kop, George Gillett Jnr and Thomas O. Hicks were still friendly uncles rather than demons.

Moores, as sincere as they come but a reluctant participant in the cold-hearted business of football, dared not believe the sniping.

That was until last October, when he and chief executive Rick Parry were confronted with the uncomfortable truth about the Americans' intentions to break the promises which led to their takeover.

Moores' mood changed on hearing plans to saddle £600million worth of debts on Anfield.

His hopes of drifting quietly into semi-retirement were put on hold as he and Parry used what boardroom influence they had to block plans.

Duped

Legal advice was taken as every last detail of the contract which gave Gillett and Hicks power was re-read. Hicks and Gillett had vowed not to 'do a Glazer', but they had chosen their words carefully.

Liverpoolyanksout150_3Not piling debt on the club to fund their purchase was not the same as saying they would never do so at a later date.

The so-called promises were not worth the paper they weren't written on and those closest to Moores felt he had been duped.

The plot to end the American revolution was under way. The Anfield civil war had begun — and the cavalry was arriving from the east.

Alerted to fresh financial concerns at Anfield, Dubai International Capital felt encouraged to return to the fray. The first tentative approaches were made in November.

DIC found the Americans, recognising the business of English football was more expensive than they thought, were willing to talk, initially with a view to selling a minority shareholding.

Worst

Gillett, who had bought Liverpool to pass on to his son Foster, was more sympathetic to the growing concerns of the old hierarchy, who pleaded with him to act in the broader interests of the club.

From the outset, when Hicks was arriving for games in his Liver Bird-crested cowboy boots, the old board feared the worst. They were comforted to know Gillett shared their concerns.

Hicks and Gillett were almost instantly at odds. Hicks insisted his own architects from Dallas re-design the planned £400m venue on Stanley Park, seemingly oblivious to the financial and planning consequences.

Torres300_3It seemed Gillett distrusted his partner's high-profile approach. But he was not shy to indulge in some PR of his own, pulling out some dollar bills on TV and saying Benitez could sign ‘Snoogy Doogy' if that was who he wanted.

A comment heard repeatedly during the course of the next few months made its debut: "This is not the Liverpool way."

Gillett and Hicks' relationship deteriorated as they clashed on the cost and structure of the stadium, and the level of debt.

Cheques

Cracks in their co-ownership were increasingly visible as they sat apart during their infrequent visits to Anfield and employed separate accountants to assess club finances.

The pair were united on one subject, however. Following his outburst in Athens after the 2007 Champions League Final and successive seasons when he had courted the attention of Real Madrid, they agreed Rafa Benitez's long-term future demanded re-assessment.

Benitez, who claimed he resisted the lure of the Bernabeu after being made promises of his own, was fuming that the public commitment of a greater transfer kitty was not matched by the cheques.

He had summer funds, but no more or less than Moores had provided, and felt it was still based on player sales and European winnings. He was desperate for the fans to know the truth, and when private briefings had no impact, he went public.

The result was a spree which brought Fernando Torres, Ryan Babel, Lucas Leiva and Yossi Benayoun to Anfield for combined fees of about £42m, although Benitez recouped plenty by selling Craig Bellamy and Luis Garcia.

When the Premier League challenge stuttered and the Champions League started badly, Hicks and Gillett sensed a chance to wield the axe.

Controversial

Benitez e-mailed his January transfer plans across the Atlantic and received the cold response he should ‘focus on coaching and training'. He believed the transfer embargo was because the Americans wanted him out. He was right.

The News of the World printed the story of the plot to sack Benitez on November 25, allowing him to galvanise the fans' support and expose the rift ripping through the heart of the club.

The Kop still stopped short of anti-American protests, but that soon changed (left) when Hicks admitted the plot to sack Benitez and replace him with Jurgen Klinsmann. Contempt for Hicks was at its peak and fans' protests intensified. In the meantime, Hicks' stadium plans had been redesigned to cut costs. The controversial refinancing package was also altered, reducing the level of debt against the club.

Significantly, Gillett remained silent, refusing to endorse the new stadium or £350m refinancing agreement. He wanted out and was already deep into negotiations with DIC.

Crisis

"It's now a question of when, not if DIC get in," club sources said.

By now, the public perception matched the reality. Liverpool were a club in crisis, deeply divided at every level.

Parry and Moores were desperate for DIC to secure a deal, even though they recognised their own futures were as uncertain as the manager's.

Hicksgillett150_3Troubling though the obstacles and delays were, they remained confident of a successful resolution.

By now, Benitez was relying more on political alliances than results to secure his position, as the latest title challenge ended prematurely. Initially, the feud with his bosses offered a shield against events on the pitch.

In recent weeks an unlikely bond has formed between Hicks and Benitez. The bust-up which prompted so much bad blood splattered across the back pages has been mended.

Whatever his future holds, Benitez will be thanked for his role in exposing the Americans.

He helped put the first nail in the coffin of their joint reign and will be loved for it by the Kop. However, when the ink has eventually dried on the imminent deal with DIC, which will remedy their serious error of 12 months ago, it is Moores and Parry who will have redeemed themselves as the men whose internal resistance truly saved the club from meltdown.

By Chris Bascombe

Comments

HA HA to the scousers, all the trash talk & jokes, when utd were taken over by yanks, and look whats happened now , were still on course for the title, fa cup & euro , scousers will end up potless!! but next june all we will here is how great they will be the following year just for it to blow up in there faces again!!

Please tell me that English is not your first language. How old are you, 12?
As a Manc supporter (probably never been to the Theatre of Muppets) you will of course remember that your European track record is exactly as successful as Nottingham Forest, and Liverpool are still the most decorated English club - and that's after 15 years of the Mancs dominating the Premiership!!

besides being 15 years dominating. It took old fergie a whole lifetime to get the mancs where they are, and they still are no closer to being the most decorated club. One hard fact for all you manc fans, as much as you have dominated domestic league you are still far far behind in europe. you will never match liverpool. Never Ever. And hpow much longer do you think fergie will go on? we already looks like he a old crock.

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