On the day that the refinancing of Liverpool FC is completed by Tom Hicks and George Gillett, giving them a stronger hold over the club and further shortening the odds on Rafa Benitez remaining as manager past the summer, the two American’s have used their PR machine to move the attention away from them.
It’s a rarity that Hicks in particular wants himself to be out of the headlines but today they’ve done everything they can to get people talking about other things opposed to the fact they are plunging the club into debt. Admittedly it is now being reported that a large proportion of the refinancing will be against Hicks and Gillett themselves as well as the club.
But this morning’s newspapers all ran with the story of how Hicks and Gillett will be giving Benitez the ‘gift’ of Javier Mascherano in an attempt to smooth things over with the fans – but again, don’t believe the PR – a large amount of Mascherano’s 17m fee will come from the sale of Momo Sissoko to Juventus this weekend. Note the signing of Martin Skrtel for 6m was using up the rest of the summer’s budget which Benitez had set aside for the signing of Gabriel Heinze which fell through.
And in a further public relations move, the owners chose today to announce the revised new stadium plans – with a larger capacity of 71,000, to be built in time for the 2011-2012 season. The design is very similar to the ones released in the summer, which were then scrapped when they realised they couldn’t afford it. [Revised Stadium Images and Info]
Dallas based architects HKS’ plans were approved after a meeting in New York earlier in the month when they are Manchester based AFL both revealed new plans for a stadium.
It is interesting to note that George Gillett’s name is missing from any press releases made today and only Hicks (surprise, surprise) is the one giving the quotes and promising the world, Hicks said: “Liverpool supporters should have high expectations for the future: a premier sporting experience at their new stadium at Stanley Park and a winning club on the pitch for years to come”.
Until they deliver on the Mascherano front – and further support on the playing side, as promised – and give Rafa the full backing he deserves, with a new contract, they will never win over the majority of fans.
John Mackin of Reclaim The Kop got it right when he told the Echo: “Unless the owners come out and say they are giving Rafa Benitez a new deal, they are going to support him extensively in the transfer market, and that none of the money to fund that will put the club in debt, they have got no chance of winning us over.
“Such is the level of disquiet among the fans that a meeting is to be held next week when we will discuss the next phase in our ongoing protests against the owners.
“We have seen pretty pictures of stadium designs before and we’re still waiting for a single spade to go into the ground at Stanley Park, something Hicks and Gillett promised would happen within 60 days of takeover, so it’ll take a lot more than a new picture and a major PR offensive for us to be won over.
The truth is, these two can never be trusted with Liverpool FC – a skeptic may say they are keen to build the new stadium, increase revenue and do runner, leaving the club in huge debt… Time will tell.
Supporters group LFC Supporters Network are set to announce plans for a ‘Black’ day against Sunderland – a year after the Americans first took control of the club.
More on This Is Anfield