Bank defends new Anfield deal

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The Independent Football

Royal Bank of Scotland have taken the unusual step of defending themselves ahead of a widely anticipated decision to refinance £350m of debt for Liverpool's owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks, pointing out to fans that they insisted the Americans took out personal guarantees when agreeing to lend to them 18 months ago.

The Spirit of Shankly group has led lobbying efforts to persuade the bank, currently in Government hands, to refuse the Americans the refinancing when the current deadline on existing loans expires next month. But the bank have taken the step of pointing out their wider support to the club. "We took great care when making our original loan in early 2007 and when refinancing it last January to distinguish between obligations of the club and obligations of its parent company, the latter being secured by personal guarantees and collateral from the owners and a pledge of the shares they own in the club," the bank said.

Hicks and Gillett currently pay around £35m a year in interest on their loan and auditors KPMG recently expressed concern over the level of debt being incurred by Kop Football Holdings, Liverpool's parent company, after they posted losses of £42.6m in the year ending July 2008.

Liverpool yesterday confirmed the signing of the England full-back Glen Johnson for £17m from Portsmouth.

Andrei Voronin has said he wants to return from his loan period at Hertha Berlin and "conquer Europe" with Liverpool, though manager Rafael Benitez may wish to sell the £4m striker to raise cash for further purchases.