Gillett 'set to make Liverpool exit'
Published 22:00 16/09/10 By David Maddock
George Gillettís reign at Liverpool is on the verge of ending - with Tom Hicks ready to launch a bid to seize control of the club.
Gillett has been battling financial problems in America and is facing a deadline next month from Royal Bank of Scotland on a £75million loan set against his 50 per cent stake in Liverpool.
As the Americanís financial empire continues to struggle, his partner Tom Hicks is desperately trying to take control - by forcing through a refinancing package at Anfield.
That will outrage the clubís disillusioned fans, who turned out in disappointing numbers last night for the Europa League game against Steaua Bucharest.
Hicks is even thought to have already approached several American banks - one of which is FBR Capital Markets, which has offices in Washington and London - to try to raise enough capital to buy Gillettís credit note and pay off the Royal Bank of Scotland debt of around £230million.
Gillett borrowed the £75million from U.S. Hedge Fund Mill Financial, an arm of Springfield Financial Co, back in 2008, when he and Hicks were forced to reduce their debt placed on Liverpool by lenders RBS.
The Colorado-based businessmen extended that loan at the end of 2008, but when the company called it in earlier this summer, he was unable to find the funds to repay them, and sources say he may have no option but to default.
That leaves the prospect of his 50 per cent in the club being taken as collateral, a situation that leaves him powerless to resist the sale of his shares.
But Hicks is now desperately trying to find the finance to take full control of the club by buying his partnerís debt note from Mill Financial, giving him sole ownership.
The Texan has held a series of meetings in London - one of which was with the Reds board - as the October 11 deadline approaches when the RBS demand repayment of a sizeable chunk of their £280 million debt.
He has already failed in one attempt to gain control, back in June, when the Anfield board members Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre blocked their plans.
Now Hicks is trying to bypass the board, where he is outnumbered, to take out a new refinancing package, which would allow him to keep control of the club.
Hicks is concerned that he can not find a buyer at the price he needs to make a profit on his purchase of Liverpool, and refinancing would give him more time to sell.
But that would incense Liverpool fans, who are desperate to force him and Gillett out of the club, and are now busy lobbying the RBS and other financial institutions, in an attempt to persuade them not to extend any more credit.
The Americansí debts on Liverpool currently stand at in excess of £350million, with interest of £20million in August alone running up on their account with the RBS, and they would need to sell at above £40million to even break even on their investment.
That is why Hicks is so feverishly looking to salvage the situation, even as Gillett finally seems to have accepted his tenure at Anfield is over, by preparing to default.
It is a critical time for Liverpool, with their lenders the RBS setting an early October deadline for the situation to be resolved.
If Hicks canít find new backing in the next fortnight, then he is likely to be left in a position where he will also need to default - on the loan to the RBS Ė and that would see the ownership of the club finally change hands.
But if he does get a refinancing package from FBR or any other financial institution, then Liverpool fans are set to stage mass protests and walks outs at the club, with a boycott also planned