Nick Harris: Hicks and Gillett dig themselves deeper into trouble
Saturday 06 June 2009
There's a Texan saying that Tom Hicks, Liverpool's Dallas-based co-owner, will know but appears not to have heeded. "Throwin' your rope before you make a loop ain't gonna catch the cow." It means be prepared before you act. Unfortunately neither Hicks nor George Gillett were prepared when they bought the club in February 2007 to deliver the asset that underpins their future: the new stadium.
"The first spade will start going into the ground on that project by March ," said Gillett back then. More than two years on, not only has the spade yet to break ground but the plan is mothballed, funding of some £400m is no closer and Liverpool are stuck in a rut. Just as Bill Clinton once taunted one of Hicks's Texan buddies, George Bush, that "it's the economy, stupid", now the future of Liverpool is all about the stadium, stupid.
Anfield is old, crumbling, has five useful years left at most (according to the club's own latest financial report) and holds 45,000. That's 15,000 fewer than Arsenal's Emirates and more than 30,000 fewer than Old Trafford. A new 73,000-seat Stanley Park would offer not just huge leaps in match-day revenues but umpteen corporate sales via conferencing, banqueting and other business trade that swells the the playing budget – and chances of success.
Building the stadium would make Hicks as happy as a gopher in soft dirt, as they say in Texas. Pity he didn't plan how.
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