Weak dollar forces Gillett towards Anfield exit
Friday 14 March 2008
Liverpool co-owner George Gillett has provided the first explanation of why he wants to sell his 50 per cent share in the club, revealing that the weakness of the dollar is making it difficult to invest.
In a revelation which hints at why, with costs of a planned new Stanley Park stadium soaring because of increased steel costs, his co-owner Tom Hicks has also been willing to consider a Dubai International Capital (DIC) investment and is speaking to other minority investors, Gillett said the strength of the pound against the dollar had created a different landscape from the one he and Hicks saw when they took over at Anfield last year.
"We've invested internationally with Liverpool and with Montreal in Canada, and it's had a very positive effect on both of them from the standpoint of strengthening the value," Gillett said at the IMG World Congress of Sports in America last night.
"On the other hand, it's made it more difficult in terms of investing in those businesses because the dollar is really tremendously weak compared to where we started. It just costs us more to send money to those franchises, those businesses."
Gillett also owns the Montreal Canadians hockey franchise.
Widespread concerns about the outlook for the US economy saw the dollar drop yesterday to a new low against the euro, although Gillett also provided the first real evidence that his relationship with Hicks might be contributing to their split. Responding to questions about Hicks, Gillett wryly said he once had heard good advice, which he repeated: "Choose your partner wisely."
Gillett added: "He [Hicks] is a great guy – but he has just got a different perspective on the media" – a reference to Hicks's greater willingness to make public pronouncements about Liverpool which, such as in the case of his courtship of Jürgen Klinsmann, have backfired at times.
Hicks, who also owns baseball's Texas Rangers and the NHL's Dallas Stars, wants to buy a small percentage of Gillett's stock so he will gain a controlling interest and reduce the Dubai consortium to silent investors. Despite the friction between himself and Hicks and furious protests by fans at Anfield, Gillett insists he still enjoys being involved with Liverpool.
Gillett, whose wide sporting portfolio also has him as the majority owner of the Gillett Evernham Motorsports NASCAR team, said: "I'm really enjoying all three [teams], but for different reasons. In Liverpool, it's a long distance away and there's been a fair amount of controversy over there. In spite of that, the boys are playing very well and I'm proud of them."
Hicks earlier this week terminated talks with DIC, claiming it wanted the club managed "by a committee" with an influence on transfer policy.
Gillett initially wanted to buy Liverpool alone, but brought in Hicks' financial muscle when he found that could not do the deal himself.
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