Liverpool owners still in talks with RBS

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles    

Football

Talks are continuing between George Gillett, Tom Hicks and RBS over the repayment or renegotiation of a multi-million pound loan.

The deadline to reach an agreement looms large with the 24th July the original date agreed, but it is widely expected that there will be an extension of a few more days.

Liverpool and its holding companies owe £350 million to the Royal Bank of Scotland. The loan was taken out to finance the purchase of the club, transfers and plans to develop a new stadium.

It was well publicised last year that the holding company, Kop Football, lost over £42 million, mainly in interest payments. Of the £360 million, Kop Football is liable for £245 million while Liverpool Football Club owes £105 million.

The date of 24th July was agreed by all parties concerned as the deadline to repay or renegotiate the deal. The key to renegotiation lies with the personal guarantees of Gillett and Hicks. So far the American duo has guaranteed £185 million.

RBS will be looking for the pair to add further collateral. It is highly unlikely that the bank will call in the loan despite the protestations of certain Liverpool fans.

‘The Spirit of Shankly’ was set up by a group of disgruntled Liverpool fans who have become increasingly infuriated with the running of the club. Started in January 2008, around 350 Liverpool supporters decided that action needed to be taken against the “dreadful custodianship of Gillett and Hicks”.

The Liverpool Supporters’ Union represents the interests of the fans. On the group’s website it is clearly stated that their long term aim is to oversee “supporter ownership of Liverpool Football Club”.

A realistic dream or not, for the foreseeable future the club will be in the hands of the ‘Yanks’. However ‘The Spirit of Shankly’ has indicated that it wants RBS to discontinue financing the debt of Gillett and Hicks.

They are a smartly organised union with the love of the football club their sole motivation. It appears that they believe that should the RBS refuse to finance the American duo any longer then the owners will have no other alternative than search for new owners of the club.

On the 2oth July a section of ‘renegade’ Liverpool fans attacked three RBS branches in a protest against the refinance of loans. Posters reading ‘No to refinancing’ were plastered across the buildings and have been attributed to a renegade group of supporters.

A group of MPs joined the protest last week lobbying the Government, who have become majority Shareholders in RBS, to step in. These MP’s have called for the government to ensure that the RBS “does not renew its credit facility at the end of the current term.”

The Spirit of Shankly has distanced itself from the attacks, maintaining that a diplomatic approach must pursued by fans. A representative for the union said: “Whilst we are vocal against the refinancing of the club’s loan – we are encouraging our members to take a more diplomatic and sensible approach.”

George Gillett and Tom Hicks have faced unrelenting criticism in recent years from fans. They have been accused of reneging on many of the promises they made in the summer of 2007 when they took over the club: not using the club as collateral and the development of a new stadium.

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