Football: Liverpool count cost of Houllier's revolution

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AS LIVERPOOL prepare to announce pounds 5.1m losses at their forthcoming annual general meeting, a leading football analyst has warned that as many as half of the Premier League's clubs could face an uncertain financial future.

Liverpool's accounts will also show a trading deficit of pounds 10m for the year ending 31 July. The figures were expected after the near-pounds 30m rebuilding of the Anfield playing staff by their manager, Gerard Houllier, who has brought in 11 new faces.

Houllier's deficit on transfers is around pounds 15m despite having overseen the departure of 18 players since he took over as manager a year ago.

Liverpool have also spent pounds 12m by opening their new youth academy, but the fact that Granada have paid around pounds 22m for a 9.9 per cent stake in the club will go a long way to offsetting the losses.

More worrying must be that income was only up 10 per cent while turnover was down from pounds 45.5m to pounds 45.2m.

The club's wage bill was a record pounds 36m, up by pounds 6m on last year. Soaring salaries are driving up costs for all Premiership clubs, and William Davies of stockbrokers Capel-Cure Sharp believes they cannot all cope.

"If you take the bottom half of the Premier League it's clear that they are not going to enjoy life," Davies said. "It's going to become very tough for them to compete and survive. Some of them have relatively small attendances and they have to compete on the field with the big clubs even though they don't have the same revenue and profit figures.

"Also the top clubs are generating more and more millions, which means they can spend even more and that only puts more pressure on those below. For those clubs like Southampton and Leicester who are looking to build new stadia it is going to be even harder, and it's clear some clubs are going to have restless nights."

Derby County have signed Israeli international Avi Nimni on a three- year contract. Manager Jim Smith hopes to get a work permit for the midfield player, who was previously with Atletico Madrid, in time to join the club's fight for survival.

The club, however, were yesterday backtracking on Colin Hendry's pounds 1.5m from Rangers. Hendry was due to meet officials today, but Smith has had two setbacks recently which have made the club think twice

Winger Lee Morris has a hairline fracture of his foot that could end his season soon after his pounds 3m arrival while Argentinian striker Esteban Fuertes has been barred from the country because of a passport problem. In that climate Derby are worried about Hendry's fitness and may want to reduce the offer or ask him to take less money.

The Thailand captain, Kiatisuk Senamuang, is to join Huddersfield Town. The 26-year-old striker, will leave Bangkok today or tomorrow. Known in his homeland as Zico, after the former Brazil striker, Kiatisuk came to Huddersfield's attention this year after a failed trial at Middlesbrough.

Charlton have ended central defender Andy Todd's stormy season at Bolton Wanderers in a pounds 1m deal. The 25-year-old defender, son of the former Bolton manager Colin, has signed a contract which ties him to the club until 2004.

Todd's father resigned from the club in September after the pounds 1.75m transfer of Per Frandsen to Blackburn and was replaced by his assistant, Phil Brown, on a temporary basis before the appointment of Sam Allardyce.

Todd and Brown clashed over remarks about his father. Brown had broken cheekbones and a fractured jaw and is considering legal action against Todd. Bolton may now be able to back him.

The Celtic coach, John Barnes, is set to pitch new loan signing Gerald Baticle into Saturday's Premier League game at Heart Of Midlothian. Baticle has joined on a month's loan from Auxerre after he was frozen out following the arrival of Rangers' Stephane Guivarc'h.