An­field bosses move to save club from fi­nan­cial melt­down

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD WEEKEND -

LIVER­POOL’S hi­er­ar­chy are piec­ing to­gether a £100 mil­lion res­cue pack­age to try to turn round a sea­son that has been branded “a dis­grace” by one of their own play­ers.

An­field bosses hope to have the cash in­jec­tion in place by Jan­uary and will be ea­ger to avoid any de­lays af­ter keeper Pepe Reina turned on his own team-mates and be­rated their Cham­pi­ons League fail­ings.

A 1-1 draw in Lyon has left Liver­pool star­ing at a costly group stage elim­i­na­tion and Reina fumed: “Dis­grace­fully, it is not in our hands any more – we need Lyon to get some­thing at Fiorentina.”

As Liver­pool braced them­selves for a short­fall of up to £18m on their lat­est Cham­pi­ons League tak­ings, it emerged they have been work­ing fever­ishly be­hind the scenes to en­sure there is no re­peat next sea­son.

Co-own­ers Tom Hicks and Ge­orge Gil­lett have been court­ing po­ten­tial in­vestors in re­cent weeks and are now ready to press ahead with a rights is­sue of shares that would di­lute their hold­ing but, cru­cially, gen­er­ate ex­tra in­come of around £100m.

Af­ter be­ing vil­i­fied by fans over al­leged bro­ken prom­ises, the Amer­i­cans view sur­ren­der­ing some of their power as a price worth pay­ing for be­ing able to kick-start their much-de­layed sta­dium project and pro­vide trans­fer funds for the Jan­uary win­dow.

It is un­der­stood manag­ing di­rec­tor Chris­tian Purslow has al­ready had ne­go­ti­a­tions with in­ter­ested par­ties and that Hicks and Gil­lett, while re­tain­ing a ma­jor­ity stake, are pre­pared to re­duce their hold­ing to around 35 per­cent each to se­cure the nec­es­sary in­vest­ment.

All this heaps even more pres­sure on man­ager Rafa Ben­itez.

While build­ing a new ground a stone’s throw away at Stan­ley Park re­mains the pri­or­ity for Hicks and Gil­lett, they are acutely aware of their squad’s short­com­ings and are keen to release trans­fer funds in the New Year.

Whether Ben­itez will be trusted with them ev­i­dently de­pends on what hap­pens be­tween now and then. The prom­ise of new in­vest­ment could give Hicks and Gil­lett the fi­nan­cial mus­cle needed to dis­pense with their un­der-fire man­ager, even at a cost of £20m in com­pen­sa­tion.

It is bound to be given se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion if Liver­pool con­tinue to fal­ter and risk miss­ing out on the Cham­pi­ons League al­to­gether next sea­son. They will for­feit up to £18m if they fail to over­haul Fiorentina in the next few weeks and face be­ing out of pocket by al­most twice as much if they fin­ish out­side the Premier League’s top four next May.

As an added con­cern, such a night­mare sce­nario would also cast doubt over the fu­tures of key play­ers such as Fer­nando Tor­res, Reina, Javier Mascher­ano and even Steven Ger­rard.

Tor­res, Reina and Mascher­ano all see the Cham­pi­ons League as an es­sen­tial show­case for their tal­ents, while Ger­rard would be just as dis­mayed, even if he is un­likely to turn his back on his home club, at this late stage, af­ter twice pulling out of moves to Chelsea. – Daily Mail

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