Monday 11 December 2017

Hodgson demands funds as Henry builds for future

ROY Hodgson has greeted Liverpool's new owners with a plea for money to spend in the transfer market and attempted to reassure New England Sports Ventures (NESV) that he is the right man for the job.

NESV finally took control of Anfield yesterday after a dramatic day of frantic negotiating as the clock ticked down on the deadline for Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr to pay their £284m debt to Royal Bank of Scotland.

Hicks had tried to block the deal with an injunction in the American courts, which he withdrew but reinstated.Hicks also tried to pull off a late deal with Mill Financial, the American hedge fund that owns Gillett's shares, but talks broke down and John W. Henry was able to add Liverpool to the Boston Red Sox in his sports portfolio.

Hodgson's position has come under scrutiny in recent weeks as a direct result of Liverpool's worst start to a season for 57 years, but he has already held telephone talks with Henry."I don't think there's any need to talk about my position at the club, but he did back me," Hodgson said. "He was looking forward to working with me and the people here. "I have started off trying to do the job and building as best I can. It's a sad day for everything if after a bad start of six or seven games people think the solution is to find someone else with a magic wand. We all know a magic wand solution doesn't exist.

"I would be very disappointed if after such a short time - and having been given such a short time - to do the job people decided they wanted to get someone else in.

"I don't seriously believe that's the problem at the moment. The problem is more complicated. I know that I can turn the situation around. But I will have to be given support and the patience to do it."

Hodgson denied having a clause allowing new owners to remove him, insisting that his contract would have to be paid up in full. He is set to be handed an initial £25m transfer fund, having identified the areas that he believes need strengthening.

"We're going to have to work very hard," he said. "There's a lot of work to be done to get this club to where it needs to be in the grand scheme of things.

"Through all the work we've done over the last two months, we saw the challenges and problems which exist and we've got to work to address those.

There is a great nucleus here off the field and on the field and we think we can build from that, but it's not going to be easy.

"We've got real challenges but we've got a very strong organisation, financially and otherwise, we have some terrific strategic thinkers and we're going to be attacking this head-on."

Liverpool will at least move forward as a virtually debt-free club as the takeover wiped out all the loans and costs associated with the purchase of the club three-and-a-half years ago by Hicks and Gillett.

A result of those loans was the crippling interest payments of £40m a year - which are now a thing of the past.

NESV said the club's debt servicing costs would drop to between £2m-£3m annually and manager Roy Hodgson already has his eye on an expanded transfer kitty. "The mere fact the debts are wiped off immediately puts us into a different financial position to the one we have been in," he said.

"It will mean in future we can invest in players in a different way to what has happened in the last transfer window."

Although the sale has been completed, there remains the threat of further legal action from Hicks and Gillett.

Even though they withdrew their £1billion lawsuit, claiming an "epic swindle", lodged in Dallas, they are plans afoot to return to the High Court in London - where their attempts to block a sale were thwarted this week.

Hicks, who with Gillett has lost £144m in the deal, claimed Royal Bank of Scotland - the club's main creditors who forced the sale - and chairman Martin Broughton had breached his trust.

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