Monday, March 31, 2008

DIC Liverpool takeover crawling on

DIC reportedly to meet Hicks & Gillett to discuss Liverpool takeover

Sameer Al Ansari Dubai International CapitalDIC, Tom Hicks and George Gillett are reportedly all to meet at the Emirates on Wednesday night to discuss the ownership of Liverpool, and DIC's proposed takeover.

George Gillett has now indicated he won't sell to his partner, and it is anticipated the credit crunch will soon force Tom Hicks hand, as he won't be able to raise the finance to buy out his partner. In addition Gillett clearly favours a sale to DIC, describing them as responsible owners.

Liverpool chief executive Ricky Parry has also come out urging a swift solution, in a further sign the tortourous saga is entering an end phase. He said "My plea is that something happens this week," he said. "There is a need for a degree of urgency but it is urgent to get it right, not urgent to come up with the wrong solution.

"I think George was pretty clear in stating the relationship between the two of them had broken down and, as a result of that, an alternative solution needs to be found.

"There is no question that to succeed you need unity at the top. I think it brings it to a head. All things are possible at the moment. Someone has to sell, that is clear if they are not able to co-exist."

The reports of DIC, Hicks and Gillett meeting at the Emirates on Wednesday to discuss the Liverpool takeover should be taken with a pinch of salt, what is clear however is that the DIC end-game is gradually edging forward and we think a DIC takeover will be complete by the season's end.

Football News; Liverpool 1-0 Everton

Liverpool 1-0 Everton: Liverpool tighten their grip on fourth place

Liverpool ultimately edged past Everton, thanks to Fernando Torres, in a Merseyside Derby that perfectly encapsulated why these teams lie fourth and fifth.

Liverpool with aspirations of the title, showed why their title challenge petered out long ago. A bright opening, some excellent football and a great goal petered out, into what was at times a nervy finish, as for the umpteenth time this season they failed to finish off opponents they had dominated.

Everton meanwhile, after being overrun for the first half, hung in there, and clawed their way back into the game. In the second half they at least held their own with Liverpool, and arguably looked the better side, without looking likely to score.

Torres, and Gerrard were again prominent for Liverpool, with Torres scoring the opening goal after only six minutes. Alonso dispossessed Everton's Yakubu at the second attempt in the 18 yard box, Kuyt helped the ball on, and Torres took two touches to dispatch it past Tim Howards right hand post, to put Everton behind. Goal number 28 for him, and Liverpool again can only be grateful their much maligned owners funded Torres purchase.

Ryan Babel also caught the eye, but too often failed to deliver when in good positions. More than once his final ball was wanting and he is fast becoming a frustration. Liverpool are hoping he can be a modern day John Barnes in his pomp, all power and pace, but his crosses and choice of pass/ shot at the crucial moment are woeful at times. That said he seems to be one goal, and a lot of confidence away from exploding into life.

For Everton, their main attacking threat came from Yakubu (more Lenny Henry, than Theirry Henry as one wag has put it) and Arteta. Missing Cahill, and with Anichebe on the bench, Everton struggled to really unsettle Liverpool's backline.

Overall, Liverpool vs Everton was a good but not great game. Liverpool deserved their win, but showed why they are still way off the pace in the Premier League title race. Everton, showed last season was no fluke, and can be satisfied with their progression this year. Liverpool now look odds on to gain that coveted Premier League fourth position again and maybe Rafa Benitez can continue his reign!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Premier League: Man United 4-0 Aston Villa, Ronaldo again

Manchester United cruising to the Premier League as Ronaldo the difference again

Cristiano Ronaldo was again the difference as Manchester United continued to cruise to the retaining of their Premier League title.

Ronaldo is also astonishingly now within striking distance of scoring over 40 goals in season, with his total now reaching 35. Only Denis Law and Ruud Van Nistelrooy have scored more in a season for Manchester United. Even Sir Alex Ferguson's best ever hall of 45 in a season is now in sight.

Ronaldo was on fire in this game, scoring one and creating three others as Aston Villa were brushed aside with consumate ease. Ronaldo's goal was simply astonishing, outstanding and very, very cheeky!

As Ryan Giggs’ corner rebounded off Wilfred Bouma to Ronaldo, the winger had the cheek to attempt a backheeled flick through Martin Laursen’s legs. Being Ronaldo, it worked! After that he turned provider, setting up Rooney (twice) and Tevez, as Villa folded.

Victory assured, Ferguson could afford to give Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Michael Carrick half an hour off. As United prepare for their Champions League clash with Roma on Tuesday, they sent a message to their title challengers. Over to you, Chelsea.

Champions League: Arsenal vs Liverpool

It's Beauty & the Beast as Arsenal take on Liverpool in the Champions League

Wednesday is the first of three Arsenal vs Liverpool games, with the two-legged Champions League tie, being sandwiched by a Premier League game at the Emirates.

Both teams are in mixed form, though it has to be said, Liverpool are playing better than Arsenal at the moment, and of course they are the Champions League specialists. Liverpool will be relieved Javier Mascherano is available to play, and he will even be rested, after being suspended for the game against Everton.

Liverpool will go for the same team they've been playing in the last ten games or so, with Benitez following his pattern of tinkering with the team early in the season, until his rivals are out of sight, then stumbling on a winning formula for a late charge and some glory nights in Europe! They could have achieved so much more!

Arsenal meanwhile, are in a bit of a crisis. Make no mistake, they were lucky to get the win at Bolton, and were woeful for the first hour. Adebayor has stopped scoring, Fabregas has gone missing as has Hleb, while Van Persie may have returned, he is not firing on all cylinders after a long time out.

Liverpool will take on Arsenal with the hope of keeping it tight, and play on the counter attack, with the likes of Torres, Babel and Gerrard, expected to do the damage and swing this Champions League tie their way. Arsenal, meanwhile will be happy as long as they don't concede at home.

Wenger believes that in the Champions League, teams that don't score away, find themselves under huge pressure in the home leg. However he does concede that the support for Liverpool at Anfield does have an impact, particularly in the Champions League.

Arsenal vs Liverpool in the Champions League is soooooooo difficult to call, but overall we think Liverpool will edge Arsenal out, and take the semi-final place.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Liverpool vs Everton

It's the big one on Merseyside as Liverpool take on old foes Everton

Rafael Benitez takes his side into the latest big game, as Liverpool battle to reach the semi-final of the Champions League, and to finish in the coveted fourth place in the Premier League.

Liverpool vs Everton is always one of the big games on the Premier League calender, but this year it has extra special spice, as the Merseyside rivals are battling it out for fourth place, and a place in the Champions League.

Liverpool go into the game against Everton looking to consolidate their position, sitting on 59 points, two ahead of rivals Everton. Everton meanwhile, know this is a must win, or more to the point, must not lose game for them. Allowing Liverpool to go five points ahead, with six games to go will be a hammer blow for Everton.

Latest team news is that Liverpool are without Javier Mascherano, who is suspended after last weekends rumpus at Manchester United. The young brazilian Lucas is expected to deputise. However Fernando Torres has announced himself fit to face Everton, and Rafa Benitez will be hoping Liverpool's star man gets more protection against Everton, than last week at Old Trafford. Also Riise and Benayoun are pushing for a starting role, while Finnan is close to a return to fitness.

Everton's main doubt is Andy Johnson, but Pienaar and Anichebe should be fit to play.

Both teams are in great form, and the lost of Mascherano is a big blow to Liverpool, however Footy Focus thinks Liverpool will have just too much for Everton and sneak a vital Derby win!

Mourinho next manager of Inter Milan?

Jose Mourinho in talks with Inter Milan as the Special one seeks a special job

Jose Mourinho, the former Chelsea manager, is in talks with Inter Milan with a view to taking over at the San Siro next season, according to reports from Portuguese media.

Mourinho left Lisbon on Friday for Milan to negotiate a contract with Inter president Massimo Moratti, according to Antena 1 radio, a fact later confirmed by the Lusa news agency, quoting a source close to the Portuguese coach.

The 44-year-old Mourinho is one of the most sought-after coaches in Europe after quitting Chelsea, who he led to two Premier League titles, in September last year.

Current Inter coach Roberto Mancini, who has been in charge since 2004 and has a deal until 2012, said after his team’s Champions League exit at the hands of Liverpool last month, that he would step down at the end of the season.

However, the following day, Moratti said that Mancini had had a change of heart.

Friday, March 28, 2008

George Gillett - relationship with Tom Hicks 'untenable'

Gillett claims death threats and relationship with Hick untenable

George Gillett speaking on a radio station in Canada, has claimed he has been recieving death threats from Liverpool fans. He also claimed his partnership with Tom Hicks has completely broken down.

He said: “We get as many as 2,000 emails a week. I would say 95% of them have been directed at some of the comments made by my partner and 5% aimed at both of us, ’Go home Americans’." He added: “The fans don’t want him to have even one share of my stake in the club, based on what they are sending to me. As a result of that we have received many phone calls in the middle of the night threatening our lives - death threats.”

Given that both Benitez and Houllier have recieved equally distasteful remarks, painted at the clubs training ground, due to results floundering, we are not surprised the Americans are getting nasty phonecalls. The whole episode is a mess really and can't come to a conclusion quick enough for either the Americans, the fans and staff of Liverpool FC.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Barcelona want Liverpool's Benitez

Barca making eyes at Rafa as Rijkaard is eased to the door?

Reports are surfacing in the media of Barcelona wanting Rafa Benitez to replace Frank Rijkaard at Barcelona. Apparently the board is split, some wanting Jose Mourinho, while an increasing number would like Liverpool's Rafa Benitez.

It all seems a bit fanciful, and is tabloid column filler, on the back of the takeover uncertainty at Liverpool. If Rafa is to leave Liverpool in the summer, it seems more likely he will be pushed, and given his mixed record, its unlikely someone like Barcelona will be in for him.

Like Liverpool and Mourinho, his future is far from clear, but the destination of Barcelona to us seems unlikley. Watch out for it on the Liverpool Echo or Post website - if it's on there then the story has legs!

John Arne Riise payslip

John Arne Riise PayslipRiise's payslip on the 'net!

Talking of John Arne Riise (see previous post), just in case you didn't see it, here's his supposed payslip.

120,000 pounds per month! Look a the tax - ouch! Fifty thousand plus in tax!

Riise ready to quit Liverpool

Riise frustrated at time on the bench, warns he may move on

John Arne Riise has warned Liverpool he is growing increasingly frustrated at warming the Anfield bench.

In a statement that will add to the growing speculation that he will move on in the summer, he stated "I am not happy with the situation. I am used to playing in 80 per cent of all the games, but if I don't get to play as much as I want to I have to make a choice this summer as to whether I should stay or not. Maybe he [Benitez] will offer me a new contract, maybe not. It's frustrating not knowing if you are going to play the next game or not."

Riise has long been the subject of speculation that he will be moved on, but this time it appears to be for real. With no contract offer on the table, and an increasing amount of time on the bench, it appears his Liverpool career maybe drawing to a close.

Footy Focus thinks he should bide his time - Aurelio is never more than a game away from another injury, and Steve Finnan is becoming injury prone with age! He should stick around a bit longer!!

DIC Liverpool takeover back on

Credit Crunch opens the door, with DIC confident of a deal for Liverpool within the month

Long-time pursuers of Liverpool, Dubai International Capital are reportedly set to be within three or four weeks of making a bid for complete control of Anfield.

DIC is set to offer £400million for Liverpool FC, and would also bring in a minority investor. DIC, who lost out to Gillett and Hicks in the race for Liverpool last year, are said to be confident that Hicks will sell now, despite Hicks recently being adament he won't sell at all.

Although DIC, which is the private equity investment arm of the Dubai government, realises it is paying a high price for Liverpool – Gillett and Hicks bought the club for £219m 13 months ago – it believes it will be a price worth paying.

A source is quoted as saying: "It's not a cheap deal and Hicks is holding out but there is confidence that it will now finally happen."

DIC, whose chief executive Sameer Al-Ansari is a life-long fan of the club and who will join the board, has ambitious plans which could include involving some of its other investment vehicles in an attempt to raise its profile.

The hotel group Jumeirah could be used as part of the development of a new stadium. A wide-ranging review of the club, and its revenue streams, will be conducted.

DIC's confidence appears to stem from claims that some of the loans Hicks used to buy Liverpool are due to be refinanced again soon with the American money markets now less welcoming to big loans as a result of the credit crunch.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Everton 1-1 West Ham

Toffees coming unstuck as West Ham take a point at Goodison

Heinz Sticky ToffeeThe travails of the season seem to be taking their toll on Everton's relatively small squad. Following on from their narrow exclusion form the UEFA cup at the hands of Fiorentina, and the defeat away to Fulham, comes a dropped home point to West Ham. Moreover on the basis of the performance, the point was one gained, not one dropped. West Ham fully deserved their point, and only luck prevented them taking the points as they hit the post late on.

Everton now seem to be demonstrating the difference in resources, between them and their illustrious neighbours across the park. Yakubou (who some wag labelled 'more Lenny Henry than Thierry Henry'). With defeats for their rivals Aston Villa and Portsmouth, and Liverpool visiting Old Trafford, this was the perfect stage for them to push on for that coveted fourth place in the Premier League.

Instead they turned in a performance that if repeated much more, will hand Liverpool fourth place on a plate. Yakoubou and Anichebe gave a physical presence to Evertons attack, and they indeed got an early lead through Yakoubou. However, 15 minutes in Everton had a second disallowed, and after that West Ham roused themselves to make a game of it.

Before the interval Ashton was denied by the leg of Howard, but Everton didn't heed the warning, and he outjumped Jagielka to make it 1-1 after 68 minutes. As the game wore on Everton offered less and less, with the lively West Ham pushing on for victory.

Ultimately Everton survived, but despite Liverpools tough run of games, they are looking the more likely to get fourth place in the Premier League.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Manchester United vs Liverpool - can you call it?

Manchester United & Liverpool to face-off in the mother of Easter Sunday clashes

This one is really hard to call. For every reason I think Liverpool can get a result, there's plenty why not coming from the Manchester United team sheet.

Both sides are bang in form, and Manchester United are looking particularly assured in their pursuit of the Premier League title. And who can blame them. It's 'squeaky bum time' as the wily old fox Fergie calls it, and it's not Manchester bums that are squeaking. Arsenal have drawn game after game recently, while Chelsea stumbled to a 4-4 draw after leading 3-1, in a game they really had to win.

Liverpool have bounced back from their FA Cup debacle against Barnsley with seven straight wins, and are looking the best they have since September, when title talk was all the rage. However for me, they still don't quite convince as an attacking force.

Torres and Gerrard apart, Babel is improving but still not convincing. It's clear he only needs a goal to give him a big confidence lift, but he is not in the same league as Ronaldo, Tevez or Rooney. As for Pennant, Benayoun, Kuyt, Kewell and Voronin, need I go on? Kewell has come back from injury looking like the show-pony of old. Someone playing for his future, let alone the badge, wouldn't have been so jolly after the defeat at West Ham. His laughing and overall demanour was a disgrace, given the situation. Of the others, surely only Benayoun should be retained. He's neat and consistent but is not totally top class.

here's not many meaner defences than these two, though United are the freer scoring of the two teams. If Liverpool can hold United in the way they did at Anfield, they may well nick a goal through Torres or Gerrard, to gain something from the game. United looked totally at ease earlier in the season at Anfield, but Liverpool are now a very different beast. They are mean, scoring goals and full of confidence. Moreover Benitez has at last got his three best midfielders on the park all at once. Alonso, Mascherano and Gerrard have not played together anywhere near enough, partly due to Benitez's tinkering (that has killed Liverpool's title challenge), and due to Alonso's injuries.

Footy Focus prediction - it's a gut feeling Liverpool will get something from this, but we just can't call it beyond that!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Beckham in England squad for 100th cap

Beckham likely to get his 100th cap as Capello names him in squad

David Beckham has been recalled to the England squad for next week's friendly against France in Paris, giving the midfielder the possibility of winning his 100th cap.

Fabio Capello, the England Manager said "I always said that when David Beckham was fit he could be in the squad, I have had good reports on him from Franco Baldini, who watched him on Saturday night, and also from his club. I know a lot about David Beckham and what he can offer the team."

Beckham was watched by Capello's assistant Franco Baldini in a friendly for his club, LA Galaxy, in Dallas at the weekend and obviously did enough to convince the Italians that he is fit enough to win his 100th cap against France.

Capello, who managed Beckham at Real Madrid, left the 32-year-old midfielder out of his squad to face Switzerland but made it clear at the time that he was willing to extend his international career.

FootyFocus thinks it will be a very well deserved accolade for someone who has been a great English servant!

Chelsea vs Arsenal

Make or break for Grant and Wenger in a Stamford Bridge six-pointer

It's the mother of all weekends in the Premier League as the top four face-off in the battle for the Premier League title.

At Stamford Bridge its a true six-pointer for the stumbling title-chasers Chelsea and Arsenal. Chelsea shared an astonishing 4-4 draw with Tottenham at White Hart Lane, despite being 3-1 ahead. Avram Grants team again folded in a high pressure situation. In games against Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United they've failed to win. Also in the League Cup final against Spurs and again last night in a must win game, if they had Premier League aspirations, they also failed.

Grant made substitutions which instead of turning the game their way, turned it away from them at crucial times. Leading 3-2, after winning 3-1, he tried to close the game out by bringing on Costa as a sweeper. Instead, Chelsea lost their shape and Tottenham equalised. Again leading 4-3 after Joe Cole scored a superb goal, he brought on Ballack, Chelsea got caught cold, and that was it at 4-4. It said it all that Berbatov, who was excellent throughout, almost grabbed all three points at the death. As Rafa Benitez says, its all in the details.

Arsenal meanwhile, are on a run of draws, and the AC Milan game apart, have struggled for form and their goalscoring touch of late. Wenger knows this must be rapidly put right as the business end of the season is not the time to fade away. Now of all time Arsenal must find the free-flowing football which has earned them so many admirers this season.

Footy Focus can't help thinking rotation man, Rafa Benitez has a point but not the squad to do it! Liverpool are looking in fine fettle as the season comes to an end, while Chelsea and Arsenal are stumbling to the finish line!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Champions League Draw Fix - More Intrigue

More mystery as a post turns up on Yahoo answers predicting the draw

The Champions League draw fix mystery took a further turn last night, with the forum where the prediction was orginally made, pointing out that on Yahoo answers someone claimed to have been told that the English clubs would avoid each other except one of them would get Liverpool. Read the post here: Yahoo answers Champions League draw

The original post that started the mystery can be found here at: Liverpool Echo forum

It's strange that the FA, and the clubs themselves have been silent on the affair. Even UEFA have only made one comment from a fairly low ranking individual. They obviously don't want to give the story any currency by making comment. But the lack of comments equally raises questions, especially as it's more a wall of silence than anything else!

It all sounds so incredulous, yet the evidence is actually quite compelling. Also given that the fixing of matches is hardly unknown, it is not beyond the realms of fantasy that it was fixed. Given the huge amounts of money involved, the Asian betting syndicates, the Russian mafia, and the preponderance of brown envelopes undoubtedly still being passed between sheepskin jacket clad men, it's no wonder people are suspicous!

Footy Focus view - it stinks!!

Manchester United vs Liverpool - let battle commence!

Old Trafford and wily old Fergie await a rejuvenated Liverpool

Rafael Benitez sends his rejuvenated Liverpool team into battle on Sunday out of the title race, but about to become embroiled in a seven game streak that will define their season, and which Benitez argues, represents the toughest test of his career so far at Anfield.

Liverpool have Manchester United next, Chelsea, bitter rivals and neighbours Everton and would you believe it three games against Arsenal, in the Premier League and Champions League.

Liverpool's season is following a familiar frustrating pattern for Benitez and Liverpool's fans. Benitez tinkers with the team on a daily basis until he hits on a winning formula, which he then sticks to. Problem is, by then in the Premier League the opposition are usually out of sight. In 2005/06 it took Benitez 9 games to get it right and from then on in he largely stuck with the same lineup, Liverpool went on a superb run, but after winning only 3 of the first 8, they were too far behind to make a meaningful challenge.

Now, as then he has found his line-up far far too late. Liverpool have all season defended superbly and are now scoring goals too, but they are so far off the pace, they are in a scrap for fourth not first. Moreover Torres and Gerrard may convince as an attacking force, but Kuyt is clearly not upto scratch, while Babel improving as he maybe, is still not showing the true class hoped for.

Manchester United meanwhile are now starting to emerge as the decisive Premier League leaders. A win against Bolton tonight will give them a clear lead, with only eight games to go. Arsenal are starting to stutter, having drawn a string of games, and just maybe are starting to fade (maybe tinkerman Benitez has a point!). If Manchester United come out of Easter with two wins against Bolton and Liverpool, they will start to feel the title is in reach.

Footy Focus prediction - we have a gut feel Liverpool will get something from Old Trafford though we're not sure what!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Champions League Draw - Fixed or freak coincidence?

Claims the Champions League draw was fixed as it appears on the internet over an hour before

UEFA was having to fend off potentially sensational claims that the Champions League draw was fixed yesterday. The draw was made at 12.oopm in Nyon, Switzerland, however it had already appeared on a Liverpool website at 10.28am that morning.

A football forum for the Liverpool Echo (the local tabloid for Liverpool) and owned by Trinity Newspapers, recieved a post at 10.28am from someone called 'confused', which claimed to have heard a rumour on what the draw would be, accurately predicted the English clubs ties, and claimed bookmakers had stopped taking bets on the draw.

UEFA spokesman William Gallard said: "He must have supernatural powers. I know the people who did the draw and I am 150% certain it is completely honest. You might be able to fool a computer but everyone can see the teams are picked out fairly this way."

The odds of predicting the ties like this are apparently 191/1, so all in all it is a really, really freaky coincidence, or one for the conspiracy theorists to dine out on for years to come. Really we don't think there's anything in it, I mean you'll be telling us Diana was bumped off by the House of Windsor next!

Champions League Draw

Draw of death for the English clubs as Arsenal take on Liverpool

The quarter-final draw for the Champions League is:

Arsenal v Liverpool
Roma v Man United
Schalke v Barcelona
Fenerbahce v Chelsea

Arsenal and Liverpool have arguably got the hardest draw, having to face each other. Also what makes it worse for the Premier League teams is that the winners face the victors of Fenerbahce and Chelsea. All in all, not a good draw for the Premier League boys.

Manchester United go to Roma for the first leg, and will be quietly confident of seeing them of over the two legs, while Chelsea will consider Fenerbahce eminently beatable over two legs.

Liverpool and Arsenal now face three massive games in a week against each other, with a Premier League game at the Emirates stadium being sandwiched by the Champions League games on 22 and 29th of April. It will be the mother of all battle of Britains!!!

Foot focus prediction - Liverpool to sneak the Champions League tie, but Arsenal to beat them in the Premier League!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Beckham to quit LA

Gossip columns fill up the inches with speculation Beckham is to quit LA

More silly season stuff as speculation is trotted out that David Beckham and his wife Victoria are to quit LA less than a year after moving.

The Beckhams are reportedly 'disillusioned' with life in LA and are homesick for life in London, close to family and friends. The alleged disappointment for the Beckhams comes after a poor debut season for Becks, who is finding age is catching up with him as his season was wrecked by injury.

The claims tie in with reports on the weekend that Posh is keen on snapping up a pad in Chelsea, London so she can promote her fashion range DVB jeans further in Europe.

We really can't see Beckham calling it a day in LA any time soon. Whatever you may think about Beckham he is not one to shirk a footballing challenge, and staying playing with LA Galaxy is his best chance of getting that 100th England cap he craves.

Madrid to try for Ronaldo?

Silly season starts early as speculation links Real Madrid with a 50 million bid

Reports are surfacing of Real Madrid's board discussing how to make a major bid for Manchester United's jewell Cristiano Ronaldo.

AS says Ronaldo remains on Real president Ramon Calderon's shopping list, despite the recent public denials made by sports director Pedja Mijatovic.

To raise the cash for a £50 million-plus deal to buy Ronaldo they are considering selling the likes of Mahamadou Diarra and Julio Baptista. Liverpool have been linked with Diarra as a replacement for the much speculated about Xabi Alonso, while Baptista was also linked with Anfield.

Diarra is a quality player, however Baptista struggled at Arsenal so would likely command a much lower fee.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tom Hicks pulls plug on DIC purchase

Hicks aiming to hold all the power as he pulls the plug on DIC
Tom Hicks has ended negotiations with DIC over their proposed purchase of 49% of Liverpool Football Club. Citing DIC's requirement to run the club by 'committee', he has ended the delicate negotiations that were going on in Dubai.
Hicks today said: "Based on a meeting held earlier today in Dubai between my representatives and officials of Dubai International Capital LLC, as well as other recent contacts between us and them, I have decided to terminate any further discussions with DIC regarding their possible purchase of a minority stake in Kop and, in turn, in the Club.DIC made it clear that if they invested in the Club, they would want it to be managed by committee."

"Based on my thirteen years of successful experience as an owner of professional sports teams, and based in particular on the situation at Liverpool Football Club over the past year, it is clear to me that such a committee approach would not be in the best interest of Kop, of the Club or of the Club's loyal and passionate supporters.Accordingly, I have decided to exercise my right under the Kop Football (Holdings) Limited partnership agreement to veto any sale of any portion of Kop and the Club to DIC. I and my colleagues and representatives will continue to explore a number of other options with regard to the ownership of Kop and the Club aimed at achieving an appropriate ownership, financial and organisational structure for Kop and the Club over the long term."

It is now unclear exactly what will happen next after this surprise move. Is it a prelude to a Hicks total sell-off, a mere tactic as the negotiations unfold or has Hicks really walked away to seek other options? George Gillett clearly wants to sell, DIC want to buy, but it seems the sticking point has been the issue of who will have the major say in running Liverpool. Minority shareholder rights are obviously significantly more limited than the majority holders, and it appears an impasse has been reached due to DIC wanting to mitigate this.

Hicks is clearly in trouble attempting to raise finances to own Liverpool outright, he cannot go on working with Gillett, so he has to resolve the situation somehow, but how this will end up is anyones guess. DIC seem very determined to get Liverpool in the long run, but they are dealing with an equally determined man in Tom Hicks.

Meanwhile Liverpool are in Milan preparing for their second leg game against Inter Milan, after winning the first leg 2-0. Missing are Xabi Alonso and Steve Finnan, but Javier Mascherano is back in the squad after pulling a hamstring in the 4-0 win against West Ham.

Monday, March 10, 2008

DIC clinch deal for 49% of Liverpool FC

Marriage made in hell? Hicks & DIC now the owners of Liverpool, as Gillett walks away
DIC have agreed a deal to purchase 49% of Liverpool FC from George Gillett. Gillett will also sell 1% of his holding to his partner, Tom Hicks, giving him technical majority control with a 51% holding.
The deal worth upto $170m was agreed late Friday, and Amanda Stavely, leading negotiations for DIC said "The legal documents have yet to be signed, but we're really pleased," said Staveley. "Of course we want to own Liverpool outright but this large stake is a great start."
DIC clearly have a long term goal to own Liverpool outright, and it is unlikely that they would be going down this avenue, unless they thought they could do so. However in the short term DIC need to agree on a partnership with Gillett's co-chairman and fellow American, Tom Hicks, who has made it clear he has no intention of giving up his control of Anfield.

It is understood that despite Hicks' angry media attack on Staveley on Saturday, he has not ruled out the possibility of a key meeting with DIC executives in Dubai today.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Beckham: I'm fit for my 100th England Cap

Becks is fit and raring to go for that special 100th Cap for England

David Beckham has insisted he is fit and ready to return to the England side for the friendly on March 26th. Speaking after LA Galaxy's 3-0 defeat of Shanghai on Wednesday he said "Fitness-wise, I'll be perfect," he said. "But it's about performing and hopefully I'll do that." Beckham also feels he can go beyond the 100 cap mark and extend his international career well beyond the game against France.

"That's what he (Capello) said to me. I knew that from the conversation I had with him," he said. "He said that once I'm back playing and if I'm fit, and I'm playing well enough, then he'll pick me. With the first game after he took charge, I hadn't played any games and he explained that to me. I've played three games so far now and got through them all.

"I believe I can play for my country for a good few more years yet, that's just me being honest. I believe that I can still play at that level."

Injury doubts about Beckham surfaced after he was substituted during LA Galaxy's win in Shanghai on Wednesday after he suffered a minor thigh injury. Despite this, Beckham insisted he would be fit for the side's third game of a three-match Asian Tour in Hong Kong and that would be ready for any call from England.

Critcs have suggested he may well get fit, but that he is now playing against significantly inferior opposition, while in response Beckham speaks highly of the American game.

"The standard is slightly different in the US but it's not as low as everybody thinks. We've got some very good teams and very good players and we play some really good football so we'll just have to wait and see."

If he gets that extra special 100th cap Beckham is set to join Peter Shilton, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Billy Wright as only the fifth player to pass the century mark for England.

"Reaching 100 games and reaching 100 caps is very special," he added.

We really can't see why Beckham recieves criticism. He has only ever given his all for club and country, and despite courting fame throughout his career, he has never let his fame and celebrity disrupt his football. Footy Focus, we salute you Mr Beckham!

FA Cup: Manchester United vs Portsmouth

Fergies not going yet as he refuses to give a retirement date

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has refused to put a date on his retirement. Speaking ahead of Manchester United's sixth round FA Cup clash with Portsmouth, he was suitably vague about when he would finally be retiring after 22 years in charge of Manchester United.

Speaking on UK Sky News he said: "It's something I've said for quite a bit - If your health is good and you're enjoying your job it could be two, three years, who knows? It could be four years who knows? It could be tomorrow if I read some bad press from your mob [journalists] - trying to get rid of me," Ferguson joked. "I've not put a time limit on it - that's for sure."

We think Sir Alex is acutely aware of what happened last time he set a date for retirement - Manchester United's season petered out as the media, fans and players all became obsessed with his imminent departure. As it was, he just couldn't bring himself to leave anyway, and he's still there with Manchester United as strong as ever, and Premier League title holders.

United entertain Portsmouth in the FA Cup quarter finals on Saturday, and few would bet against them reaching the last four by Saturday evening. Ferguson has a near full-strength squad to choose from, and with the Premier League and UEFA Champions League rigours to come he may choose to rest some of his more senior stars.

Ferguson also revealed that he is happy with the progress of long-term injury victims Gary Neville and Mikael Silvestre and is confident the England international will shortly be returning to first-team action.

We at Footy Focus can't see past a Manchester United Saturday stroll in this one!

DIC to buy Gillett Liverpool share

DIC in for the kill as Gillett ready to sell and Hicks stands aside

George Gillett and DIC are moving ever closer to a deal for DIC to purchase his 50% stake in Liverpool. In dramatic developments, Tom Hicks has contacted DIC to inform them he will not stand in the way of the deal and has committed to undertake further discussions with DIC on the future of the club.

DIC are now increasingly confident that a deal will be done that will allow them full control of Liverpool in the near future, and events do now seem to be gathering rapid momentum towards a full DIC takeover. DIC had such faith a deal will be done, they dispatched a representative to Liverpool for the game against West Ham on Wednesday, to talk with fans groups regarding the future direction of the club.

These latest events will delight Liverpool fans who have rapidly lost all faith in the clubs American owners, after the covert meetings with Jurgen Klinsmann, the relatively low net transfer spending, and the loading of the club with debt after originally denying this would happen. Maybe the angry reception Tom Hicks Jnr recieved in the Sandon Pub and the fans protests have convinced them to abandon their investment with the tidy profit promised by DIC? Either way, DIC going public with comments on the discussions to date was a clear tactic to stir up more anti-Hicks and Gillett feeling, by giving the fans the possibility of DIC coming to the rescue.

It's a season of turmoil at Liverpool and a number of figures at the club now face very uncertain future. Rafael Benitez is by no means certain to stay in his job if DIC takeover. DIC are reportedly as unconvinced by the teams results as the Americans have been after another season of underachievement, and Jose Mourinho is looming large as an unemployed proven successor. Rick Parry must also now be wondering if he will be at his beloved Liverpool next season. He reportedly understands he may well be moved on if DIC take control, but would reluctantly do so providing the club are in good hands, and he does not consider Hicks and Gillett to any longer be the ones to take the club forward.

David Moores will also most likely be a victim of the boardroom power struggle regardless of wins. If Hicks gains full control, he is unlikely to survive given the soured relationship, and if DIC move in, they have already signalled their intention to bring in their own team

Thursday, March 6, 2008

DIC Takeover - Liverpool fans urges Hicks & Gillett to sell

Liverpool fans stage half-time 'sit in' and send message across the Atlantic
Liverpool's fans staged a half-time 'sit in' during their Premier League 4-0 victory against West Ham and made a barrage of noise against Liverpool's American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. "Liverpool Football Club is in the wrong hands," fans sang while banners where unfurled that read read "Take ya bounty and get out of our club" and "Dubai SOS. Yank Out." Fans are upset that Hicks and Gillett, who bought the club in March, have saddled the club with debt and large interest payments, after denying they would do so, have failed to progress building a new stadium and sought to replace popular manager Rafa Benitez in a covert meeting with Jurgen Klinsmann.
There's no denying that this protest is exactly what DIC has sought to instigate, with its briefings and public comments to the media. Rather than this story coming to a rapid conclusion, it is only the beginning in an end-game DIC will hope see them gain full control of Liverpool. DIC are now seeking Gillett's share, while hoping to force Hicks into also selling via fan pressure. They are clearly seeking to exploit the fan's distaste for the Americans by increasing the protests against them, to the point where their position becomes untenable.
Hicks has repeatedly said he wants to keep is stake in the club, while Gillett has signaled a willingness to sell. However, Hicks has said he can block Gillett from selling. Also it is widely being reported that despite the public stance Hicks is continuing to talk to DIC. DIC clearly think they have a good chance of wresting control of Liverpool from Hicks and Gillett and are upping the ante' in their attempt to do so. Reports are now surfacing of an increased offer to Gillett, that would allow him to walk away with 80 million pound profit. Gillett is disputing this and puts the figure at 40 million.
This whole sorry, tawdry tale has some time to run yet and who knows the eventual outcome. As a Liverpool fan I only wish for a rich owner and stability!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Uefa Champions League: AC Milan 0-2 Arsenal

Cesc just fab as Arsenal dump out holders AC Milan

Cesc Fabregas and his teammates turned in a masterful performance, to dump holders AC Milan out of the UEFA Champions league last night. Milan simply couldn't cope with Arsenal's passing and movement as they instantly took the game to their opponents. Arsenal effectively won the tie the moment Cesc Fabregas's long shot on 84 minutes hit the back of the net, which left them requiring two goals to get through to the last eight. Late on, Adebayor added to AC Milan's misery slotting Theo Walcott's right-wing cross to complete a historic 2-0 win at San Siro.

"Everybody is happy, we've all got smiles on our faces," said Adebayor "We knew it was going to be very hard but we had a lot of belief and knew that we could do something special at the San Siro - the temple of football."

Arsenal became the first English side to beat Milan at the San Siro and the history of this was not lost on Adebayor. He said: "We have become a part of the new chapter we are trying to begin in the history of this club, so we very happy about that. Not long ago everyone was saying that we'd blown it in the league and that we would lose to Milan, but after this result everyone has got their confidence back."

Fabregas was simply outstanding and gave the complete performance. Hleb and Flamini were also superb, and Gallas gave a commanding captains performance. What was astonishing about this game was that Arsenal simply battered Milan!

You really do have to salute Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. They've been building to this season for a couple of years, and are a model for other clubs in building without spending what are relatively massive amounts. Well done!!

Uefa Champions League: Barcelona 1-0 Celtic

Celtic dreams just that as Barcelona progress

Comfortably outclassed, Celtic eventually ended this game with some credit due to spirited defending, and a gritty show of resilience. The margin of defeat was kept to a single goal by some stioc defending and exceptional goalkeeping from Artur Boruc, who recovered from his all to obvious nervous start.

Barcelona's manager Frank Rijkaard, had decided to leave out some of the players who started the first match and this suggested he presumed victory. This could have been interpreted as an insult to Celtic, however it would take just two minutes to vindicate his decision and effectively kill the tie.

Seemingly intent on erasing Saturday's 4-1 defeat by Atletico Madrid, Barcelona started at a whirlwind tempo and it was clear Celtic would again would struggle to cope with the swift movement, and passing of Barcelona. Deco and Ronaldinho both went close with great efforts, but Barcelona just couldn't get the goals they threatened.

After the scary opening for Celtic, in which they survived at keeping the score to 1-0, the game played out in a similar though less intense manner, with Celtic spending their time keeping Barcelona at bay and eventually achieving for them a creditable showing against one of Europes top sides.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

DIC Liverpool takeover - midnight deadline or its off

DIC tell Hicks and Gillett its midnight or your dreaming

The battle to gain control of Liverpool is rapidly reaching a climax, with DIC telling Tom Hicks and George Gillett they have until midnight to accept their offer of 400 million or they will walk away.

DIC also upped the ante in their rhetoric, with Al Ansari accusing the American duo of being in dreamland in their valuation of the club. Reports are that they are increasingly bemused by the billion pound valuation of Liverpool, given that they paid little over 171 million for just over a year ago.

Our view is that this can't come to conclusion soon enough with hopefully DIC being the winners. That isn't anti-Americanism as some people have commented on this site. It's simply that DIC appear to have more investment clout than Hicks and Gillett. All Liverpool fans want is an investor to take the club forward, provide stability and enable them to compete with Europes best. DIC clearly seem the best placed of the two parties to do this.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ronaldo racing a Bugatti Veyron

I hadn't seen this, though you may have - its one cool ad!

No doubt Nike are making billions from this viral advertising!

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