Liverpool blessing for US tycoons' £470m takeover

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The Independent Football

The American sports tycoons Tom Hicks and George Gillet Jnr are on the verge of announcing their takeover of Liverpool after lodging a formal offer for the Anfield club worth £470m.

Hicks, 60, who owns the NHL's Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers baseball franchise, and the 68-year-old Gillet Jnr, owner of the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team, officially presented their proposals to a Liverpool board meeting at Anfield yesterday where, it is believed, they were given the green light to proceed with the third American takeover of a major Premiership club.

The multimillionaires intend to take a 50-50 ownership of Liverpool, thereby restricting the amount of debt on the club's books, and will initially pay £88m for the 51.6 per cent majority shareholding of the chairman, David Moores. Their offer of £5,000 a share will then extend to all remaining shareholders, increasing their outlay on the shareholding to a total of £175m, and their plans will also involve inheriting £80m worth of debt and committing £215m to the construction of a new 60,000-seat stadium just a stone's throw from Anfield on Stanley Park.

Work is due to commence on the new stadium next month and the Anfield hierarchy are keen for the takeover to proceed without delay following the dramatic withdrawal of Dubai International Capital's interest last week, with Moores understood to have accepted the American deal in principle last Thursday. Moores was urged to accept the more attractive share price from Hicks and Gillet Jnr by fellow shareholders prior to the collapse of the DIC deal and, providing no unexpected problems materialise, the businessmen will announce the acquisition of their latest sporting institution within days.

Rafael Benitez's jibe, born of frustration, that Everton were a "small club" continued to provoke a response yesterday with the Irish midfielder Lee Carsley rounding on the Liverpool manager and labelling his remark as "stupid".

The comment followed the weekend draw at the 205th Merseyside derby but Carsley was still bridling at the inference that he was performing for a far less significant club than the one that Benitez manages.

"I thought it was a stupid thing to say," the 32-year-old said. "I understand that straight after a game when the television cameras are pointed at you that you are probably a bit frustrated. But when he [Benitez] got home I'm sure that when he saw some of the chances we created, for instance Andy Johnson's chance near the end, he will realise he made a mistake. He can't have been watching the first game at Goodison Park because we absolutely annihilated them [3-0]."

Carsley was speaking after meeting with the rest of the Republic of Ireland squad ahead of their European Championship qualifier away to San Marino tomorrow evening. Although Everton may argue, with some justification, that they are not a "small club" in England, whatever that accusation is supposed to mean, the Sammarinese would not attempt to dispute they are minnows.

The 195th best team in the world, with only two full-time players and a history of thumping defeats, including a 5-0 reverse when they met Ireland last autumn to provide Stephen Staunton's side with a desperately needed victory in Group D, have no pretensions.

Neither does Carsley, to be fair, and his return, after ruling himself out of international football for two years and then being foolishly neglected by Staunton as he attempted to return, has added some steel.

Carsley will be the oldest player for Ireland tomorrow with Staunton calling up seven uncapped players to his squad while also lacking the experience of the injured Newcastle United duo of Stephen Carr and Shay Given.