targets Liverpool fans in Latin America
The U.S. sports tycoons buying Liverpool see opportunities to build
the Premier League club's following in Latin America and will be
cautious about spending too much on players, one of them said on
"We've got a Spanish coach and a number of Spanish players, and I think
we can grow our fan base in Central and South America and Mexico,"
George Gillett told Reuters in a telephone interview, noting that his
partner in the deal, Tom Hicks, has large investments in Latin American
Liverpool, the five-times European Cup winners, already have many
supporters in Asia but are still behind major rivals Manchester United
when it comes to overseas interest.
Gillett and Hicks, who both own U.S. sports teams, said earlier on
Tuesday they would pay 5,000 pounds per Liverpool share and purchase the
club for 219 million pounds ($428.5 million), including debt.
They plan to finance a new 60,000-seat stadium and are contemplating
selling the naming rights to help pay for it. At the same time, Gillett
said, they will be cautious about overspending as owners.
"In the history of sports, it's been proven time and again that teams
that are bought and built with money aren't sustainable," said Gillett,
who has owned TV stations, ski resorts and meat and poultry processors.
"The last time the Yankees won was 2000," he said, referring to the U.S.
baseball powerhouse owned by George Steinbrenner who are repeatedly
accused of paying top dollar for the best players at the expense of
teams that cannot afford to do so.
It's not just about spending money," Gillett said. "We believe in the
Rafa (Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez) concept. That doesn't mean going
out and being crazy with expenditures. It's finding the right people
with the right mix and the right skill sets and different ages."
Gillett and Hicks also left open the possibility of raising ticket
prices with Liverpool seats comparatively cheaper than some other
"We know the facts," Gillett said, referring to the disparity in ticket
prices. "I don't think we've come to a conclusion on that, though."
The pair sealed the deal for Liverpool after rivals Dubai International
Capital withdrew a bid last week. Gillett credited his partner for the
"When we added the Hicks family to our bid, we overcame apprehensions
(Liverpool management) may have had about a single family, no matter how
wealthy, competing in the new Premiership," Gillett said, adding that
they did have the higher bid.
The duo join compatriots Malcolm Glazer and Randy Lerner in owning
English soccer clubs, but the growing roster of Americans can present
its own cultural stumbling blocks.
Gillett, for example, was quickly criticised in UK media for using the
word "franchise" to describe Liverpool during a news conference on
"I understand it's a club," Gillett said. "I used franchise incorrectly
at the news conference, but in later interviews corrected myself."
owners lay down gauntlet
Liverpool's new American owners have warned Manchester United and
Chelsea they aim to make the Reds the biggest and best club in the
Tom Hicks and George Gillett laid out their vision for a bright Red
future at an Anfield news conference little more than an hour after
clinching an historic £470million takeover of the club.
They will be in direct competition with fellow Americans the Glazer
family but, unlike the owners at Old Trafford, the two sports tycoons
insist there will be no debt tied to Liverpool from their purchase.
The pair formed an impressive team, and made clear they had huge respect
for the club's heritage.
Gillett said: "This is truly the largest sport in the world, the most
important sport in the world, and this is the most important club in the
most important sport in the world and what a privilege we have to be
associated with it.
"We have purchased the club with no debt on the club so, in that regard,
it is different [to the Glazers]. We believe in the future of the club,
the future of the league, the new TV contracts are outstanding and we
are proud to be a part of it.
"If you look at the Premier League today, it is a strong
revenue-generating body for the leading teams. I believe it has the
chance to be a growing industry over time and we need all the revenues
we can possibly find to compete with Manchester and Chelsea."
Gillett and Hicks - who both own NHL ice hockey teams - will become
co-chairmen, and each will have one of their sons on the board.
Liverpool chairman David Moores will become honorary life president and
Rick Parry will continue as chief executive, running the club on a day
to day basis.
The Americans had a meeting with manager Rafael Benitez and promised
they would back him with funds for new signings, insisting they will not
put a ceiling on spending.
Hicks said: "We are not going to put a budget on squad development, we
are going to wait for Rick and Rafa to bring us those plans and requests
and we are going to support them.
"Rafa's strategies and philosophies are very similar to our own, with a
strong core of veterans with highly-talented young athletes.
"You need to keep your star players but also develop your young players.
"Young players are the lifeblood of your team, so we talked about how we
can improve that side of the team."
They also met up with skipper Steven Gerrard and fellow Scouser Jamie
Carragher on Monday night.
Gillett said: "We had the privilege of spending some time with Steven
Gerrard and Jamie Carragher and they delivered us the message. They are
all about winning and all about the passion from the fans.
"They wanted continuity of management with David and Rick. They have
enormous regard for them. They also spoke extremely warmly about Rafa
and made us aware that they feel this man is truly one of the great
geniuses in the recent history of the sport.
"Secondly, they wanted to talk about players and to encourage us to
support Rick and Rafa's efforts in building the team.
"They were also clear with their views on the stadium. They made us
aware the sound, the energy and the passion that Anfield provides needs
to be incorporated into the design of the new stadium."
The takeover means that work is now expected to start on the new
60,000-seater Stanley Park stadium within the next two months, and the
new owners will consider selling the naming rights on the ground.
The pair also made clear there was no chance of sharing the ground with
Merseyside neighbours Everton.
Hicks said: "I can categorically say we have no interest in a ground
share with any other team. We are going to build the finest team for the
finest stadium in the Premier League and that is Liverpool."
Gillett persuaded Hicks to join his bid after meeting him at an NHL
All-Star game, and it did not take long for Hicks - who also owns the
Texas Rangers baseball side - to become hooked on the project.
Hicks added: "I had obviously heard of Liverpool but once I had a chance
to read about the 118 years of history, the 18 league championships, the
bleak years in the 1930s and 40s through to the 60s and then the
tragedies of the 1980s, I was just awe-struck by what this community has
done, it is very, very special."
Gillett also insisted that, though he and Hicks would be aiming for the
club to return a profit, that was way down the list of priorities.
He said: "If you put down the objectives, money would be no way near the
top of the list, it would have winning, passion, heritage and legacy
"Rick has told me of a Bill Shankly saying that 'first is first and
second is nowhere' and that sounds good to us."
Gillett: No debt
By Mark Buckingham - Sky Sports
George Gillett Jnr has confirmed money has not been borrowed against
Liverpool's debt in order to buy the Premiership club.
Along with American business partner Tom Hicks, Gillett has agreed a
deal to take over The Reds after his offer was recommended to
There have been suggestions that the buy-out will be similar to that of
the Glazers' takeover of Manchester United, but Gillett says Liverpool
will not be saddled with any debt.
"This is going to be unusual, I think, in the history of sport in
England," Gillett told Sky Sports News.
"There were many concerns that the chairman (David Moores) expressed
about that subject and we listened to him carefully.
"So we've structured it in a way, I think, will be good for the club and
good for the fans going forward."
Gillett is also prepared to hand manager Rafa Benitez a sizeable
transfer kitty for new players and is trying to put the focus on
long-term glory, rather than short-term success.
He added: "We had a wonderful meeting with Rafa and Rick Parry today.
Rather than being specific and saying you've got X number of dollars -
we don't know what that number is and I'm not sure they know - instead
we said why don't you come to us with a plan.
"I know they will be doing that in a professional way and it will be
done in a way that will hopefully create for the club sustainable
"I don't think it's about buying a year or two of success, we are trying
to create sustainable winning for this club, so the fans can be proud of
sustainable success, as well as just winning occasionally.
"We want to create a club that has that wonderful success on the pitch."
George wouldn't go away
By Jimmy Rice - Sky Sports
Rick Parry has revealed George Gillett's sheer persistence played a
major role in his proposed joint takeover of the club, which was
announced first by liverpoolfc.tv on Tuesday.
The Liverpool chief executive says he still had to field calls from the
American even when it appeared likely that DIC would takeover the club.
"When we go back to last November, it was a very finely balanced
decision when we went with DIC," said Parry.
"David Moores had a lot of soul searching. We had two great bids on the
table and at that stage, as George will no doubt tell you, I had to tell
him that he'd been unsuccessful.
"He was very, very gracious in defeat. He wished us good luck, but was
at pains to ask where he'd gone wrong and where the shortcomings were.
"To his credit, he kept his own counsel, but didn't go away. He was
persistent, dogged and determined.
"Clearly things with DIC took longer than we expected and we thought we
would have things wrapped up before Christmas, but it was taking
significantly longer than that.
"As we got well into January, so George started to come back again. I
wouldn't say we welcomed him with open arms at first, but he wouldn't go
"The thing that made a difference is he came back with a very different
proposition because he brought Tom on board. No disrespect to George,
but that changed the complexion of the bid.
"If George and Tom had been sitting down in November, maybe the decision
would have gone that way then.
"I've no doubt that we've made the right decision."
support Rafa plans
By Mark Buckingham - Sky Sports
Tom Hicks has outlined Liverpool's new owners' determination to offer
manager Rafa Benitez the support he needs to make the club champions.
On Tuesday, Hicks, along with his American business partner George
Gillett Jnr, was presented as the new custodian of the Premiership club.
Reports have suggested the duo will provide Benitez with a huge transfer
kitty in a bid to close the gap on Chelsea and Manchester United at the
top of the table.
While Hicks was not willing to divulge any figures, he confirmed the
intention to back Benitez's plans for moulding a competitive squad.
"Talking to Rafa this morning, he was talking about you need to combine
keeping your core players, the need to bring in some top star players
and also the need to develop your own young players," said Hicks at a
press conference live on Sky Sports News.
"Young players are the lifeblood of any team and we talked a lot about
how we could improve the whole development process.
"We're not going to put a budget on what we are going to do. We will let
Rafa and Rick (Parry) bring us their plans, then we'll support those
"If we have the chance to get a great player, we'll get great players,
but that's Rick's job, that's Rafa's job to help bring us those
Hicks also confirmed that he will be the club's co-chairman, along with
Gillett, with David Moores taking on the role of Honorary Life
He added: "We decided the tallest partner can be chairman!
"We are going to be co-chairmen. We are equal partners in every sense of
the word and we will each have one of our sons on the board as well.
"That's the kind of relationship you have to have to be successful.
George and I feel we now have that knowledge and confidence to be
"Both of our styles is to be successful, but in the sports industry you
depend on the people who run that business. In this case, Rick is
running the business and we'll be his board members."
and Hicks on their new club
By John Thompson - Liverpool Echo sports editor
Liverpool Football Club are today owned by two Americans.
After arriving at Anfield to seal an historic takeover, George Gillett
and Tom Hicks revealed they had been told all about the club and its
importance last night when they met Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard and
vice captain Jamie Carragher.
Gillett and Hicks stressed that their passion for sport and the chance
to own a world famous club such as Liverpool, with all its heritage and
tradition, was the overriding factor in the deal.
Gillett said: “We have been looking at European football for several
years. I don’t want to try to convince you we are a knowledgeable
football family, but we are a family who love sport.”
The pair revealed that outgoing chairman David Moores would remain as
life president with an active role in the Anfield board.
Insisting that stability and continuity were their watchwords, they
confirmed that chief executive Rick Parry would be staying on in the
Gillett firmly rebuffed any notion that he favoured ground sharing with
Everton: “I have no idea where that story came from.
“It is certainly not true and I can categorically deny it now.
“The first time I met Rick Parry he looked me in the eye and said ‘If
you ever bring the topic of ground sharing up in a serious way you can
have my resignation’. That was very clear and The subject has never come
It is understood Gillett and Hicks will bring their sons – Foster
Gillett and Tom Hicks jnr – into the boardroom to help them, taking
Britain’s most successful club forward into a new era.
Gillett said of last night’s meeting with Gerrard and Carragher: “They
delivered us a clear message. They are all about winning, and the fans.
“The number one question they asked was that they wanted continuity with
David and Rick. They have enormous regard for them and they spoke
extremely warmly about Rafa and made us aware they feel this man is
truly one of the great geniuses in the recent history of the sport.
“Secondly, they wanted to talk about players and to encourage us to
support Rick and Rafa’s efforts in building the team.
“They also had clear views about the stadium. The home advantage of
Anfield and the fans on the Kop needs to be incorporated into the new
ground They hope the new stadium can retain all the atmosphere of
Both men insisted that David Moores had reached the hardest decision of
his life, only after putting them through what was effectively a
vigorous interview process.
Hicks said: “These opportunities happen just once every few generations.
George called me about a month ago and explained what he thought was a
vision and the opportunity at Liverpool. I have followed the English
Premier League from afar because some of my business friends are ardent
fans of the game. When I looked into it I was awestruck with the history
and true passion of the fans compared to other sports I am involved
Gillett said: “I don’t know how I can convey to Liverpool fans and ECHO
readers the care that David Moores has put into this decision. There was
aggressive questioning of us trying to understand our passion and our
commitment. It was all about our passion and commitment, and if there is
anything we can do to convey that to people we will do so.”
“I don’t think David Moores would have selected us to be the new
custodians of this great football club unless he had become convinced
that we shared that sense of responsibility that he has. We are both
huge sports fans first and foremost.”
Hicks added his own weight to Gillett’s rebuttal of groundsharing, and
said: “I can categorically say we have never been interested in a
groundshare situation with any other team. We are going to build and
fund the new stadium which will be the home of one team – Liverpool.”
Gillett went on: “We want to build a first class facility for the fans
and we certainly hope we can bring the title back to Anfield.
“When you sit in our little country you get an unusual perspective and
an incorrect one thinking our sports are really prettypopular. Then you
come over here and see the tribal aspects of the fans and their
affection and support for the team and realise it’s a game that is
watched by billions. supporters watching the game worldwide. It’s then
you realise that this is truly the most important sport in the world and
Liverpool is one of the most popular clubs in the world. To have the
opportunity to get involved in this is a rare privilege.
“It’s well managed and we are not looking to change things.
“It seem that everything written has been about money but we really do
hope we have some ideas for Liverpool as well.”
Hicks stated: “We have both been involved in building or modifying new
stadia so we think we can bring a lot of good work to the benefit of the
fans and the club here at Liverpool.
“When any businessman goes into any sport you have to have a passion for
winning. For me there was nothing more emotionally satisfying as when we
won the Stanley Cup in1999 and having the captain of the side hand me
On the subject of the Premiership title, Gillett added: Rick has told me
of a Shankly saying that ‘first is first and second is nowhere’ and that
sounds good to me.”
Tom Hicks factfile
TEAMtalk takes a look at the career so far of Tom Hicks, after his
takeover bid for Liverpool was accepted.
1946: Born, Dallas.
1995: December - Contracted to purchase the Dallas Stars NHL hockey club
for a reported 82million US dollars.
1998: June - Becomes chairman and owner of the Texas Rangers having paid
approximately 250million dollars, overseeing their American League West
1999: Dallas Stars win the 1999 Stanley Cup. Rangers win the AL West
2001: Signs Alex Rodriguez for the Rangers on a 10-year, 252million
dollars (approximately £130million) contract before the 2001 season, the
highest annual salary in baseball.
Hicks' brainchild, the state-of-the-art, 325million dollars American
Airlines Center is officially opened as the Stars' home venue.
2003: Rangers finish bottom of their division, prompting Hicks to
offload Rodriguez to New York Yankees.
Ranked 350th on the Forbes 400 Richest Americans list with an estimated
fortune of 725million dollars.
2006: January 26 - Liverpool confirm American tycoon George Gillett,
also owner of an NHL team, the Montreal Canadiens, has made an approach
"which may or may not lead to an offer".
January 31: Dubai International Capital pull out of proposed takeover
bid for Liverpool. The announcement follows the failure of the club's
board to formally accept DIC's bid in the wake of a second offer from
February 2: It emerges Hicks joined Gillett in flying to England to
present Liverpool chairman David Moores and chief executive Rick Parry
with their provisional offer.
February 6: Liverpool announced to the Stock Exchange they have agreed
the terms "of a recommended cash offer" to be made by the American
consortium led by Gillett and Hicks to buy the club.
TEAMtalk takes a look at the factfile of George Gillett, whose
takeover bid for Liverpool has been accepted.
1938: Born October 22 in Racine, Wisconsin.
1961: Graduates from Dominican College in his home town.
1966: Invests in American football outfit Miami Dolphins, where he
becomes a minority partner.
1967: Buys the Harlem Globetrotters from the estate of team founder Abe
Saperstein before selling it nine years later.
1969: Buys his first broadcast interests, radio stations WIXY(AM) and
WDOK(FM) in Cleveland. Gillett would go on to invest in a series of
radio and television stations.
1985: Acquires Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts. Gillett went on to
sponsor a host of major international ski events at a time when the
sport was struggling.
1992: Files for bankruptcy after financial trouble at his company,
1996: After rebuilding his portfolio with the purchase of meat packing
company Packerland, Gillett forms Booth Creek Ski Holdings, building a
series of ski resorts in New Hampshire.
1999: Named as one of Ski Magazine's 100 most influential skiiers of all
2001: Completes a deal to take 80.1% control of NHL side Montreal
Canadiens, as well as taking ownership of their home, the Bell Centre.
2006: February 6 - Liverpool announce to the Stock Exchange they have
agreed the terms "of a recommended cash offer" to be made by the
American consortium led by Gillett and Tom Hicks to buy the club.
Reds agree takeover
By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports
The American pair flew into Liverpool on Tuesday to tie up the final
details of the takeover deal.
The deal is reported to be worth £470m with the American duo splitting
the cost between them paying about £175m for the shares in the club,
£80m to cover the debt and a further £215m towards a new stadium.
Liverpool's board have now made an announcement to the Stock Exchange of
the offer and they have recommended for the club's shareholders to
accept the deal.
Reds chairman David Moores welcomed the deal and revealed he will be
staying on at the club as Honorary Life President.
"I believe this is a great step forward for Liverpool, its shareholders
and its fans. This club is my passion and forms a huge part of my life.
"After much careful consideration, I have agreed to sell my shares to
assist in securing the investment needed for the new stadium and for the
"I urge all my fellow shareholders to do the same and to support the
offer. By doing so, I believe you will be backing the successful future
of Liverpool Football Club.
"I am also delighted to accept the offer from the Hicks and Gillett
families to continue my involvement in the Club by becoming Honorary
Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry believes the deal signals a new era
at the English titans.
"This is great for Liverpool, our supporters and the shareholders - it
is the beginning of a new era for the club," said Parry.
"The partnership created by George and Tom is very special. They are
bringing to the table tremendous and relevant experience, a passion for
sport, real resources and a strong commitment to the traditions of
"Their approach represents exactly the sort of genuine partnership that
Liverpool has been seeking over recent times.
"We know that George and Tom want a long-term relationship with
Liverpool and that they also understand the importance of investing in
our success both on and off the field.
"They have made clear their intention to move as quickly as practicable
on the financing and construction of our proposed new stadium at Stanley
Park and also to support investment in the playing squad.
"This has been an important time for the club. We now have the right
partners for the future. I am absolutely certain we have now ended up in
the right place, with owners who will help the club succeed and
Gillett and Hicks expressed their delight at gaining control at Anfield
saying: "Liverpool is a fantastic club with a remarkable history and a
"We fully acknowledge and appreciate the unique heritage and rich
history of Liverpool and intend to respect this heritage in the future.
"The Hicks family and the Gillett family are extremely excited about
continuing the club's legacy and tradition.
"We are particularly pleased that David Moores and Rick Parry will have
a continuing involvement in the club. For us continuity and stability
are keys to the future."