Tom Hicks ready for DIC showdown
By Jeremy Wilson
Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks is tonight due to come face-to-face with Sameer Al Ansari, the chief executive of Dubai International Capital, for the first time since the collapse of talks with the Arab investment company.
Hicks will also be in the proximity of chief executive Rick Parry in a directors’ box that will be crackling with tension and animosity as every faction in the ongoing Anfield civil war comes together for the Champions League semi-final first leg against Chelsea.
Significantly, Al Ansari has been personally invited by co-owner George Gillett in a gesture that would appear to indicate his continued willingness to do business with DIC.
Hicks terminated negotiations on a partnership with DIC last month, blaming their demand for an equal say in how the club would be run. Al Ansari had earlier accused the two Americans of being in “dreamland” about their valuations of the club.
Gillett will be unable to attend the game due to illness, but the Gillett party will include his son, Foster.
It will be Parry’s first chance to challenge Hicks, who is due to be accompanied by son Tom Jnr, over the recent demand for his resignation and the claim that his handling of the club as chief executive has been “a disaster”.
Former chairman David Moores, who has described the recent turmoil as “heartbreaking”, will also be at Anfield tonight.
After the match, manager Rafael Benitez may also seek showdown talks with Hicks and Parry over their involvement in a meeting last year in New York with former coach of the German national team, Jurgen Klinsmann.
The Spaniard, though, has urged fans to focus on supporting the team. “We will not be distracted by things ‘off the pitch’,” he said. “The players are focused on the football and our fans will do the same, they will only be concerned about helping us. I believe that from the very start we will have the supporters right behind us.
“They will give us great support and will not be thinking too much about who is in the directors’ box, they will only be concerned about what we are doing on the pitch.”
Al Ansari is a Liverpool fan and DIC remain optimistic that Hicks will eventually do business with them.
DIC made an offer worth around £450 million to the Americans, who bought Liverpool for £22 m last February. That offer was understood to have included the £350m of debt refinanced by Hicks and Gillett with Royal Bank of Scotland and US investment bank Wachovia, plus at least £25m in cash to Hicks and around £80m to Gillett in return for their equity. Hicks, however, opposed the deal and has since outlined his intention to buy Gillett’s share, make Liverpool debt-free and build a new stadium.