Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool all are under foreign ownership but it is Liverpool who are supposed to have made the best deal. While Malcolm Glazier has shoved Man United to a debt of millions and no one is still not certain when Chelsea’s Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich would remove his hand of wealth from the club, Liverpool’s long-term future is secure with the takeover of the club in February last year by American tycoons George Gillett and Tom Hicks.
Or is it? Suddenly the club is appearing at a crossroad, once again. Hicks has been reported to be contemplating on selling his stake at the club and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum is all to eager to have a second bite at the cherry. The Dubai-based Sheikh exhibited his interest in the club before Gillett and Hicks had launched their own bid and no sooner had the rumors surfaced in the football market that Hicks could be pulling himself away from the ownership of one of the most successful clubs in Europe than the Sheikh’s name has been drafted into the hat for another takeover.
Tom Hicks has of course dismissed all such talks as “absolute rubbish” and has denied any rift with his Liverpool co-owner George Gillett. But the cat has been pulled out of the bag. Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was recently quoted as saying that he is not happy with the club and that he needs more funds in the January transfer window to kindle a serious challenge both for the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League. And now the notion, however vague and weak, that the partnership between Gillett and Hicks could just break is sending more shockwaves across the red half of Liverpool.
The Dubai Sheikh is said to be worth £7 billion and could easily buy the £1 billion stake that Hicks has at Liverpool. But would it be good for the club both in the short-term and the long-term futures should indeed Liverpool go for another takeover? Gillett and Hicks’ takeover of the club in the middle of last season was criticized by a certain section of the Liverpool fans but they have poured a considerable amount of money in the club in the summer, allowing manager Benitez to splash out a club record of £27 million to lire Fernando Torres from Atletico Madrid in the summer plus procuring the likes of Ryan Babel and Andrei Voronin. Would the Sheikh takeover be a better one than the American takeover?
More importantly with foreign takeover offers shipping into England from all corners of the world all the time, is foreign ownership of Premierships club indeed a good thing?