Liverpool keen to rein in wage bill after £12m rise


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The Independent Football

Liverpool's owners admit transfer fees and salaries need handling with care after the club's latest accounts revealed a near-£12million rise in the wage bill.

Fenway Sports Group have bankrolled substantial investment in the playing staff since January last year, although that has been heavily supplemented by the £50million sale of Fernando Torres to Chelsea.

The departure of the Spain international, as one of the club's highest earners, will have lightened the burden on the wage bill, but there remains work to be done with contributions still being made to the likes of Joe Cole's reported six-figure weekly salary while he is on loan at Lille.

And there appears a determination to keep a tight rein on the spending on players, both transfer fees and wages, while "remaining as competitive as possible".

In the club's accounts, officially published today, the club identifies that area - among others - as being key in terms of 'principal risks and uncertainties'.

The figure for salaries of all staff rose to £120.3m.

"Player transfer market and wage costs are those that need the most care, and the aim is to manage these costs within financial constraints whilst remaining as competitive as possible," said the directors' report submitted as part of the accounts.

The club posted a £49.4m pre-tax loss, as well documented yesterday, compared to £19.9 for the year ending July 2010.

That was mainly as a result of £35m being written off on the doomed stadium project of former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

But the loss of Champions League football and changing managers twice have cost Liverpool more than £30million in less than two years.

The Reds' absence from Europe's elite club competition saw media revenue drop by £14.3m and matchday revenue fall by £2m in the year ending July 31 2011.

Roy Hodgson's departure, and that of associated staff, in January 2011 cost the club £8.3m.

That followed six months after Rafael Benitez left, having failed to finish in the top four, at a cost of £7.7m (money which was included in the 2010 accounts).

Liverpool did not play in the Champions League this season and will not do next, although they will compete in the Europa League again.

By comparison, tomorrow's FA Cup final opponents Chelsea will receive about £46m for reaching this year's Champions League final.

Overall turnover dropped by £900,000 to £183.6m but commercially it was up by £15m.

Net debt decreased from £123.4m in July 2010 (under Hicks and Gillett) to £65.4 in July 2011 and as a result interest payments dropped by £14.6m.

A £30.2m interest-free loan was provided by FSG, who last September refinanced credit facilities with RBS, Bank of America and Barclays to provide £120million for three years - £45m for the stadium project and £75m for general purposes.