Hicks denies blocking fans' representation

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The Independent Football

Liverpool's co-owner Tom Hicks has refuted claims that he blocked an attempt to have a Liverpool fan installed on the Anfield board during negotiations with Dubai International Capital over the Arab group's potential investment in the club.

It had been claimed by DIC sources that the issue was one of the reasons why talks between the two parties collapsed on Monday. A DIC insider, heavily involved in talks with fans' groups over the club's future, maintained that the idea of a fan on the board did not appeal to Hicks' negotiators.

But the American issued a statement through his London-based advisers yesterday. It said: "With regard to a report today claiming that 'talks between [Tom Hicks] and Dubai International Capital collapsed after the Dubaians proposed putting a fans' representative on the Anfield board', I can confirm after consultation with Mr Hicks and his representatives at the meetings with DIC that at no time during any such meetings did DIC propose, nor did Mr Hicks or his representatives reject, any such proposal."

This latest difference serves only to underline the deep problems there are between Hicks and DIC.

After a day of talks on Monday in Dubai, Hicks' representatives and DIC reached deadlock, with the Texan finally breaking off negotiations. The move came as a shock to DIC but, although the Dubai group has avoided making any further public statements, it is believed still to want to buy into the club.

Hicks has also vetoed any move by his partner, George Gillett, to sell a 49 per cent stake in the club to DIC. But DIC plans to investigate the legality of that stance and still wants to buy Gillett's stake.

The suggestion that a fan with full voting rights would be installed on the board followed meetings with supporters' groups on the Kop on Saturday, when a DIC representative watched the 3-0 win over Newcastle from the famous stand.

Hicks' reason for terminating the talks was that he did want the club to "be run by committee". He is believed to have also wanted DIC to be a virtual sleeping partner while contributing financially.

However, high-level sources at Liverpool believed they could see such a breakdown coming. There had been growing concern at Anfield over the triumphant attitude of DIC last week. A source said: "They seemed overconfident that the deal would go through and there seemed to be a lot of talk about what they were going to do."

Several times, Hicks rebuked DIC last week – once over allegations of a leaked document and then over claims that the Dubai group wanted management control even if it owned only 49 per cent of the club.

Hicks is now believed to be looking for other buyers in the US for Gillett's shares, while DIC remains confident that there will be more talks. But it has not set out a timescale and aims to sit back now and see how the current situation – and Hicks' attempts to raise £300m for the planned new stadium – pans out.

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