Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Liverpool Co-Owners Make Desperate Bid To Cling On To Power At Anfield

Despite announcing that the club was up for sale in April, Liverpool co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett have reportedly been plotting to remain in control, according to The News of the World.

Having spent the summer trying to re-finance their huge debts, the pair asked Barclays Capital and FBR Capital Bank to approach several investment banks to negotiate £290 million of debt, and if successful this would have freed the co-owners of their arrangement with the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wells Fargo which ends in October.

Chairman Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre has made it clear that a sale of the club, not another refinancing agreement, is in the best interests of Liverpool FC.

The trio enlisted the advice of international law firm Slaughter and May as to whether the wishes of the club's owners could be opposed and were advised in favour of blocking Hicks and Gillett's plans.

This latest development contradicts the noises coming from Anfield's American co-owners over the past few months, which included statements announcing that the sale of the club was at the top of their agenda and more recent reports of 'advanced takeover talks' with Syrian businessman Yahya Kirdi.

Hicks and Gillett know that if they refinance and stay at the helm beyond their RBS debt payment deadline on October 6, they could possibly attract higher bids for their shares.

However, failure to meet a second debt payment deadline today means they will be hit with another £7.5 million charge. A third charge of £7.5 million will come into effect on August 31 and by the end of this month, the Americans' debt will have risen to an astonishing £282.4 million.

If they are unable to pay, then Liverpool face the real possibility of the RBS taking control of the club, with Liverpool FC being forced into administration and being hit with a nine-point penalty.

John Aldridge: Liverpool FC Takeover Has To Be Worth The Wait

While the anticipated takeover of the club continues to rumble on, the message remains the same.

The sooner it’s sorted out, the better for all concerned.

Of course, it has to be done correctly and with investors who have the club’s best interests at heart.

You would hope that it’s done in the next few weeks before the transfer window closes, to free up some cash for Roy Hodgson to strengthen his squad.

But that looks increasingly unlikely, so if it’s a few more months then so be it, just as long as it happens and with the right people.

The last thing anyone wants is a situation similar to the last time the club changed hands.

I know chairman Martin Broughton said he hoped things would be settled sooner rather than later, but if waiting a little while longer means the future of the club is properly secured I’m sure we can live with that for now.

Reds Target PSV Star

Skysports.com understands Liverpool is preparing a bid for PSV Eindhoven forward Ola Toivonen.

New Reds boss Roy Hodgson has admitted he is keen to bolster his attacking options and Toivonen is thought to be top of his wanted list.

Toivonen is regarded as one of the best young players in Europe after catching the eye for club and country in the last few years.

The Swedish international only joined PSV in January 2009 and he has netted 24 goals in 49 appearances for the Dutch giants.

Liverpool scouts have watched Toivonen in action on a couple of occasions and Hodgson is thought to have cast an eye over him as he scored in Sweden's win over Scotland last week.

The 24-year-old has started the season in fine form with five goals in his first two games for PSV and a number of top clubs are believed to be monitoring his situation.

However, Liverpool is ready to steal a march on their rivals by making a bid in excess of £10million for the versatile attacker.

PSV are reluctant to lose Toivonen, but Liverpool are prepared to make a mega bid to force the Dutch club's hand and take the Swede to Anfield.

Liverpool Interested In £13m-Rated Dynamo Kiev Striker Artem Milevskiy

Liverpool are considering a move for Dynamo Kiev forward Artem Milevskiy as manager Roy Hodgson looks to bolster his strikeforce.

The Ukrainian international is seeking a move abroad after eight years at Kiev and is a target for Hodgson should funds become available at Anfield following Javier Mascherano’s proposed £25 million switch to Inter Milan.

Hodgson has stated his desire to add attacking reinforcements to his squad as his current striking options are limited to Fernando Torres, David N’Gog and Dirk Kuyt.

The 25-year-old would not come cheap and his club are demanding a £13m transfer fee with little room for negotiation. With Liverpool’s ownership uncertain and debts of £237m with the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Reds would have to sell before they could afford to make a bid for Milevskiy.

Liverpool is just one of a number of Premier League clubs tracking Milevskiy, who has been heavily linked with Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow during the summer.

"Milevskiy is a player who could play for Liverpool, Manchester United or Chelsea," his agent Dennis Lachter told Goal.com UK. "He is a top level player and we have had some serious interest from one major Premier League club.

"At the moment English teams are waiting until they have more money before they buy players.

"But when the market starts to move, managers will have more money to spend and then something might happen.”

Milevskiy is considered one of the most talented players in Eastern Europe, a technically skilful forward who prefers to play off a targetman rather than as a main striker, despite his 6ft 3in frame.

Lachter has urged suitors to make their move for the Belarusian-born forward sooner rather than later and has warned they face a tough task in convincing Dinamo Kiev to sell their star man.

He added: "It can take many days and weeks to sign a player from Ukrainian and Russian clubs – it is not a transfer you can do in one day.

"It is not a great joy to negotiate with these clubs – I can tell you this from many years of experience.

"At the moment Milevskiy will continue to play for Dinamo Kiev – but in football everything can change in an hour."

Liverpool FC Set To Sign Keeper Brad Jones

Liverpool are poised to seal a £2.3million deal for Brad Jones after the Middlesbrough goalkeeper passed a medical today.

The 28-year-old Australia international travelled to the north-west to discuss personal terms and undergo physical tests, which Liverpool tonight confirmed he successfully came through.

It is understood the deal had been held up by a difference of opinion over how the fee was to be paid.

Reds boss Roy Hodgson has earmarked Jones, who qualifies as a ’home-grown’ player under the new rules after joining the Teessiders as a trainee, as suitable cover for first-choice goalkeeper Jose Reina.

Liverpool confirmed the fee on their official website and stated that Jones should finalize his move tomorrow.

Jones made 24 league appearances in the

Championship for Middlesbrough last season, his most in a single campaign during his eight years at the Teesside club, during which he has spent loan spells with Blackpool, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham and Stockport.

Steven Gerrard: Anfield Confidence Remains Unshakeable

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard insists renewed confidence at Anfield will not be damaged by Arsenal’s fortuitous last-gasp equalizer in their Premier League opener.

The Reds were on course to open their domestic campaign with a win when Jose Reina allowed the ball to squirm from his grasp and into the net in injury time of a pulsating clash.

It was a deflating blow, but after a positive summer following the appointment of Roy Hodgson as manager, Gerrard says it will take a lot more to damage revitalized spirits.

“My family is Liverpool fans, we are surrounded by them day in and day out,” said Gerrard, who also helped lift the club after last season’s disappointing seventh-placed finish by pledging his future.

“Of course I can feel the optimism, and rightly so. We have got a good manager, we have kept hold of some top players and we have already got some top players here.

“If we can keep everyone fit I am very confident we can have a completely different season to last year. The boys are enjoying training and working very hard.

“There is a real buzz about the place and if we had got three points it would have been a magnificent start.”

Liverpool’s performance against Arsenal was all the more commendable after the dismissal of Joe Cole on the stroke of half-time.

The England midfielder had a home league debut to forget as he received a straight red card for a reckless lunge at Arsenal new boy Laurent Koscielny.

Liverpool responded well to go ahead through David Ngog’s fourth goal of the campaign after three in Europa League qualifying, but Arsenal finished strongly and claimed a late reward.

Gerrard, 30, who scored twice for England in the friendly win over Hungary last week, said: “We were very unlucky not to see it out and take maximum points.

“I’m very proud of all the lads, I thought they put a tremendous shift in. When you are playing Arsenal in the opening game it is tough enough 11 v 11.

“To lose a man with a half to go and still get something out of the game, I’m really pleased. I thought they were disciplined and looked very fit.

“It was a shame we lost Joe. I think he was unfortunate, maybe a yellow would have been more sensible.”

Hodgson: Mascherano Can Go For Right Price

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is still hopeful of keeping want-away midfielder Javier Mascherano at the club but admits they have a verbal agreement with the player to allow him to leave if a decent bid is received.

Mascherano has been linked with a move to Inter Milan to be reunited with former Reds boss Rafa Benitez, as well as Spanish Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, but as yet, no club has made an offer for the Argentina international.

Hodgson said: "We want to keep him here and we will keep him here unless an offer comes along that is correct.

"As yet we haven't had any offers. There's two weeks to go in the transfer window and some of these clubs for some reason like to come in with offers on the 28th or 29th of August.

"But we want to keep him here and we will keep him here unless an offer comes along that is correct - one that is commensurate with his value and one where we would think it would be wrong to turn down because we've said to him if that offer comes in we'll accept it.

"At the moment it's not there, it's not even on the horizon. If all these clubs are interested it would be nice if they contacted Liverpool one day."

Carragher Credits Lineker Criticism As Reason Behind Form

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher claims criticism from Gary Lineker was the catalayst behind his man-of-the-match performance against Premier League rivals Arsenal on Sunday.

The veteran Anfield stalwart put in a strong defensive display against the Gunners to help ten men Liverpool earn a point and the 32-year-old claims question marks regarding his long-term prospects and ability to last the rigours of the Premier League spurned him on.

Lineker suggested Carragher was “on his last legs” at Liverpool, and Carragher indicated having read the Match of the Day presenter’s column in the News of the World, the defender was not “in the best of moods”.

The Liverpool defender told the club’s official website: "I read Gary Lineker on Sunday morning saying my legs had gone, so I wasn't in the best of moods before the game and I was more determined to play better than I normally am.

"You have good days, bad days, but we did okay. Later on I'll probably make a couple of mistakes and people will say I'm finished again.

"I made too many mistakes at the start of last season but I think I got my game together from the Manchester United game at home, from November onwards, so I like to think I had a good second half of the season."

Match Report: Liverpool 1 - 1 Arsenal

Jose Reina's late howler enabled Arsenal to snatch a draw from a thrilling Premier League opener at 10-man Liverpool.

The Liverpool goalkeeper saw the ball rebound off him after Marouane Chamakh had hit the post in the final minute at Anfield to cancel out a David Ngog strike.

The goal was reward for a late spell of Arsenal pressure but it was unfortunate for Liverpool, who had survived most of the second half unscathed after the sending off of Joe Cole.

The big-name summer signing from Chelsea was dismissed on his league debut for a reckless challenge on Arsenal debutant Laurent Koscielny.

Koscielny himself also received a red card, but not until moments before the final whistle when he earned a second booking for handball.

The equalizer denied Liverpool what would have been only their fourth victory over the Gunners in their last 19 league meetings.

It remains to be seen how much the new wave of optimism which has swept into the club since Roy Hodgson was appointed as manager has been punctured.

One of the reasons for the upbeat mood had been Cole's arrival but while the midfielder's first league start was one to forget, Hodgson did coax a solid showing from wantaway Javier Mascherano.

Fernando Torres was left in reserve, and later entered to a huge ovation after pledging his future to the club and recovering from a groin injury, but Arsenal missed two of their bigger stars more.

Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie were both said to be lacking match-fitness and while the former was absent altogether, the Dutchman made only a late appearance.

Thomas Vermaelen tested Jose Reina early on with a fierce free-kick but aside from that, the first half was almost devoid of action until exploding into life in the closing moments.

Dirk Kuyt created Liverpool's first opportunity when he turned in the box but Manuel Almunia easily gathered his cross.

New signing Milan Jovanovic cut through the Arsenal midfield with a determined run but Kuyt's final ball again found Almunia.

Arsenal's Samir Nasri had another long-range free-kick blocked and Vermaelen put the rebound wide.

Gael Clichy had Arsenal's first serious chance from open play when he broke clear down the left after 30 minutes and fired a shot narrowly over from outside the box.

Liverpool thought an opportunity was opening up soon after when Almunia failed to claim a corner but referee Martin Atkinson spotted a foul by Daniel Agger on Vermaelen.

The action on the field was tight with neither side giving much away but Arsenal were almost caught when Jovanovic raced onto a long ball.

With Cole walking back from an offside position, the Arsenal defence let the ball bounce and the Serbia international darted into the box, only to blast wide.

The game suddenly came alive in the closing minute of the first half.

First Glen Johnson had a shot tipped over by Almunia and Ngog then had a header cleared off the line from the resulting corner.

The complexion of the game then changed completely in injury time as Cole was sent off for his lunge at Koscielny.

Koscielny returned to the dressing room on a stretcher at the interval but ran out to start the second period as normal.

He was greeted by boos from Liverpool fans but replays of the tackle suggested that, although the initial decision may have seemed harsh, the law had been applied correctly.

Liverpool seemed determined not to let their numerical disadvantage bother them and made a blistering start to the second half.

They claimed the lead within two minutes of the restart as Mascherano threaded a ball into the box for Ngog and the Frenchman finished unerringly home at the near post.

It was his fourth goal of the season after three in Liverpool's first Europa League qualifying tie.

Not content with that, the Reds pushed forward again and Martin Skrtel headed wide from a dangerous Steven Gerrard free-kick.

Ngog had an even better chance when he leapt to reach another Gerrard set-piece but could not direct his header on target.

Kuyt created another fine chance after good work on the right but no-one could turn in his ball across goal.

Liverpool were reduced to nine men when Agger left the field for treatment after all three substitutes had been used.

Arsenal stepped up the tempo and Tomas Rosicky showed great control with a slaloming run into the area before seeing his shot touched over by Reina.

Maxi Rodriguez then cleared after a desperate goalmouth scramble.

The pressure eventually told in the last minute as Reina failed to grasp the ball after Chamakh hit the post from Rosicky's cross.

Gerrard almost snatched victory as the game went into five minutes of injury time but Almunia kept out his free-kick.

The game ended on more controversy as Koscielny was dismissed.