Thursday, February 6, 2014

6 February 2007 - The Titanic Started In Liverpool, Too

On 6 February 2007, Tom Hicks and George Gillett started their short and tempestuous reign as Liverpool's owners.

The pair already had a porfolio of sports teams in hockey and baseball, with Hicks owning the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers baseball team, while Gillett owned the Montreal Candiens. They joined forces to acquire Liverpool, paying £5,000 per share for a total of £174.1 million (additional club debt of £44.8 million pushed the overall valuation of the club to £218.9 million). They also pledged to invest significant additional funds.

The deal, however, was leveraged and saddled the club with substantial debt, drawing the ire of the club's supporters. The two co-chairmen soon fell out with each other and Hicks also participated in public spats with manager Rafa Benítez and chief executive Rick Parry. Even though Liverpool continued to challenge for the title, including finishing as runners-up to Manchester United in 2009, Hicks and Gillett were constantly under pressure from supporters and the media.

The pressure mounted in the 2009-10 season, which ended with Liverpool in seventh, the first time they had fallen out of the league's top four since 2005. Their tenure came to an end in October of 2010, when, over Hicks's protests, the club's board of directors voted to sell the club to New England Sports Ventures for around £300 million.

Hicks filed suit against the club, claiming that the deal was far lower than it should have been, but lost. Speaking about Hicks and Gillett in a 2013 interview, Parry said "We all wish passionately that they hadn't owned the club."

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