Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Liverpool Board Would Block Anfield Mortgage

Liverpool's owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks attempted to refinance their loans this summer by mortgaging the club's remaining assets - the stadium, training ground, players and guaranteed TV revenues.

There are fears the American owners might attempt another refinancing deal ahead of the October 6 deadline to repay £237 million owed to Royal Bank of Scotland, plus the £60 million of additional fees run up since April.

But the rest of Liverpool's five-man board would - once again - legally block any attempt to use the players or stadium as 'assets' to raise a mortgage to pay off existing debts.

Any refinancing will be opposed by the board who can outvote Hicks and Gillett 3-2, but the Americans might issue a legal challenge.

At present, the £40 million annual interest repayments come directly from club profits but ESPNsoccernet has learned that the debts are not loaded against the stadium and players. When Hicks and Gillett tried to find a new £290 million 'mortgage' using the stadium and players as assets a few months ago, the board threw out the proposal and took legal advice to ensure that they were within their rights to do so.

With the October 6 bank deadline rapidly approaching, Hicks and Gillett stand to lose their stranglehold on Liverpool if RBS chooses to take over the club and hand it over to their asset recovery experts to sell as a distressed asset. An RBS effective takeover of the club from the October 6 deadline would meet with Premier League approval. Liverpool have also informed the Premier League and UEFA that they have set aside financial measures to ensure that they can continue to pay the £8 million-a-month wage bill and fulfil their fixtures this season.

When asked if the club could still afford their substantial wage bill, a spokesman said: "Liverpool FC has prudent working capital facilities that allow the club to make proper provision for outgoings as and when they arise. These working capital facilities are totally satisfactory to both the Premier League and UEFA."

The annual wage bill in the 2008-09 accounts was £90.8 million and this year the figure will be around the same, but for the first time Liverpool have dipped into the red. When asked whether the crippling £40 million interest repayments which wipe out all operating profits are paid monthly, putting a strain on the club's cash flow, the response was that, as such detail is not a matter of public record, the club have declined to answer.

However there are fears that the club is heading for financial meltdown unless a new owner can be found, and so far there are no "credible" bidders. There has been nothing from a mystery bid involving Keith Harris, let alone the Kenny Huang bid that also failed to materialize. City experts are now estimating that Liverpool's price tag in an RBS fire sale could be as little as £150 million, far short of the original expectations of Hicks and Gillett, who demanded £800 million and then dropped their asking price to £600 million.

Talk of a takeover before the transfer window proved to be a disappointing false dawn, and City financiers believe the value of the club will now plummet. Liverpool suspects that potential new owners are waiting to grab the club for a knock-down price when RBS faces the prospect of selling the club itself from the October 6 deadline, when the bank's £237 million loan has to be repaid.

Manchester United And Liverpool Pondering January Move For Karim Benzema

Premier League giants Manchester United and Liverpool are both weighing up January transfer window offers for Real Madrid misfit Karim Benzema, according to reports from Spain.

AS comments that Jose Mourinho is concerned about the former Lyon forward’s ability to provide back-up to first-choice striker Gonzalo Higuain, and has also criticized his attitude in recent training sessions.

It is believed that should a suitable offer be received for the Frenchman, the Portuguese coach would be willing to let Benzema leave in order to fund a replacement of his own choosing.

Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson has previously been linked with a swoop for the 22-year-old while Liverpool are desperate to bolster their attacking options to take the strain from Fernando Torres.

Mourinho has allegedly given the striker three months to prove himself at the Santiago Bernabeu, and if his performances do not reach the required standard, the former Inter and Chelsea boss will look to cut the club’s losses.

Benzema arrived as part of Florentino Perez’s revolution last summer, but managed just 10 goals in 33 appearances.

Athletic Bilbao Fear Chelsea & Liverpool Offers For Starlet Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta

Athletic Bilbao is bracing themselves from an offer to arrive for Liverpool and Chelsea target Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta, according to Tutto Mercato Web.

De Galarreta, 17, is understood to be the jewel in the Basque side's youth set-up and made his first team debut in a friendly against Lemona this summer.

Watching scouts have been impressed with the midfielder's technique and vision, with bids expected to be lodged in the near future.

The Premier League pair are not expected to get a free range at his signature as Barcelona are also eager to snap the player up.

Martin Kelly Hopes That Home-Grown Player Ruling Will Help Him

Martin Kelly is hoping that he can benefit from the Premier League’s new home-grown squad ruling and add to his solitary league appearance for Liverpool.

The promising defender – who was an unused substitute as England under-21s beat Lithuania 3-0 last night – is still only 20-years-old so can supplement the 21-man Barclays Premier League squad Roy Hodgson was able to name last week.

Kelly has made eight appearances in total for Liverpool, but his only league appearance to date was against Portsmouth last season.

The youngster is a confirmed advocate of the League’s new home-grown ruling.

“It’s the right rule to bring in because it’s good for us to get opportunities,” he declared.

“If you don’t take your chance then you don’t take it, but as long as you’re given it, that’s what matters.

“That’s what seems to be happening with the home-grown rule and it’s helping quite a bit.

“Roy Hodgson just told me to keep working hard.

“It’s a great experience working with a manager like Roy.

“Working with him and the players here is the best thing I can be doing at this moment in my career.

“I am enjoying the fact I am training day in, day out with such good players and such good management staff.”

Kelly made his U21s debut earlier this year against Uzbekistan – and scored.

Last night he didn’t play, but two goals from Sunderland’s on-loan striker Danny Welbeck and another from Aston Villa’s Marc Albrighton gave Stuart Pearce’s side a 3-0 victory.

Kelly added: “It was one of my targets last season.

“When I played for the U19s, I was telling my family I wanted to play for the U21s.

“Going to work with a manager like Stuart Pearce was brilliant, as was working with all the top young players who are coming through and just breaking into the senior squads at their clubs.”

Liverpool confirmed yesterday that Dirk Kuyt, meanwhile, will be out of action for four weeks with a shoulder injury.

The club’s medical team examined the Dutchman following his early return from international duty.

Liverpool’s head of sports medicine and sports science Dr Peter Brukner said: “Dirk has damaged his shoulder at the A-C joint, which is between the collar bone and the shoulder.

“He is likely to be out for four weeks.”

The Dutch media have reported that the injury was sustained after Kuyt fell awkwardly attempting a bicycle kick in training.

The 30-year-old now appears likely to miss games against Birmingham, Steaua Bucharest, Manchester United, Northampton, Sunderland and an emotional return to former club Utrecht.

Reina Vows To Recover From Spain Howler

Liverpool's Pepe Reina has vowed to bounce back from his goalkeeping blunder which helped Argentina defeat Spain 4-1 in an international friendly in Buenos Aires.

Reina, who was making a rare international start in place of rested captain Iker Casillas, slipped while attempting to deal with a straightforward back pass and was unable to prevent Carlos Tevez from swooping to score Argentina's third goal.

The recently crowned world champions were 3-0 down at half-time and Reina was unable to atone for his error as he was replaced by Barcelona's Victor Valdes in a pre-arranged interval substitution.

But despite his howler in a sobering defeat for Spain, Reina insists he can bounce back and challenge Casillas for the number one jersey.

"In football when a goalkeeper makes a mistake the full weight of the team falls on your shoulders," he explained.

"It was an accident, I prefer a slip to a technical failure. I must accept it, see it as an accident and move forward.

"Now I have to think about making use of whatever minutes the coach gives me."

Speaking about the heavy defeat in which Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero also featured on the scoresheet, Reina added: "They were highly motivated because they played against the world champions and many Argentine players are known because they play in Spain.

"It's a loss like many in football. I wish I only got defeats in friendlies. We should not dramatize it. The third goal condemned us for the entire game.

"Argentina should be congratulated but the loss was too severe."

Carra: We've Got The Strikers

Jamie Carragher believes Liverpool have more than enough firepower up front despite not signing a striker in the transfer window.

Roy Hodgson made no secret of his desire to add striking reinforcements - but only if the right player came along.

That didn't happen, but Carragher is not concerned.

"If you take into account the changes at the club in the sports science department, I think up to now we have done quite well at the start of the season with injuries," said the vice-captain.

"We are looking for Fernando Torres to stay as fit as possible but I think David Ngog in the last 12 months is a completely different player, and his start to the season has been fantastic.

"We've also got Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel as well."

'Raul Can Be New Terry Mac'

Alan Hansen believes new signing Raul Meireles can provide Liverpool's midfield with the sort of dynamism that made Terry McDermott a Kop legend in the 1970s.

The Reds completed the signing of the Portugal international from FC Porto last month and, having been impressed with the 27-year-old's performances at the World Cup, Hansen feels the deal represents a coup for Roy Hodgson.

And the Scot is convinced Meireles has all the attributes to be as influential on the team as the legendary free-scoring McDermott.

"They can't be compared directly, but the closest thing we had to Meireles when I was at Liverpool would have been Terry McDermott," Hansen told LFC Weekly.

"Terry Mac was probably better technically, but he was the same type of energetic box-to-box midfielder who would start the build-up on the edge of our box and 10 seconds later would be at the other end of the pitch putting the ball in the net.

"I'd be stood there thinking 'Christ, where has he come from?'

"That's the sort of thing we've been looking for - someone who can go from being in a defensive position to ghosting into the other penalty area as a move builds up - and I believe Meireles can do that job."

Meireles played in all four of Portugal's matches at the World Cup and was on target during their resounding 7-0 group-stage victory over North Korea.

Hansen continued: "I spent the summer in South Africa at the World Cup and Meireles had a very good tournament for Portugal.

"If you were looking for a midfielder who was good at getting from box to box on a regular basis then I would say Meireles was as good as anybody in the competition.

"He is noted for his work-rate, but it was his work-rate plus a degree of quality that shone out. Every time I saw him he was very impressive, so from that perspective it looks like Roy Hodgson has made a really good signing for Liverpool Football Club.

"As is always the case with every new signing, you can never tell how a player is going to perform until he is bedded into the team, but from what I have seen he has the attributes to do well at Liverpool."

Meireles's arrival significantly bolsters Hodgson's midfield options - and Hansen is excited about what Anfield's new No.4 can bring to the team.

He added: "Meireles will add energy to the midfield. He'll shake things up in terms of movement in the centre of the park and get from box to box in a way that no other Liverpool midfielder has done in recent times with the exception of Steven Gerrard.

"He is a dynamic player. One minute he's in defence, the next he's in the opposition's box and maybe that's what we've been lacking a bit of in the last four or five years.

"Whether he will play alongside Steven with Joe Cole ahead of them, or alongside Christian Poulsen or Lucas with Steven further forward is difficult to say at present, but Roy will have all those options open to him.

"It's up to him to decide how he deploys Meireles and the most important aspect he will consider is how he gets the best out of the player."

Amoo Secures Newcastle Draw

Liverpool Reserves claimed their second point of the 2010-11 season as they came from behind twice in an enthralling 2-2 draw with Newcastle United in the North East on Tuesday evening.

Philip Airey put Newcastle ahead on eight minutes when he converted a penalty after being tripped inside the box by Chris Mavinga.

Suso netted an equalizer on his Barclays Premier Reserve League North debut with a thumping drive midway through the first period to spark a spell of real dominance for the Reds.

Samuel Ameobi restored Newcastle's lead near the hour as he prodded the ball over the line following a goalmouth scramble.

However, David Amoo found the net via a deflection with just over 10 minutes remaining to secure a well-deserved point for Liverpool.

John McMahon's men travelled to Whitley Park aiming to build on the opening-day point they picked up during last week's goalless stalemate with Wigan Athletic at the Academy.

Spanish teenager Suso, who last week completed a transfer from FC Cadiz on a scholarship agreement, was handed a competitive debut in what was a youthful team selection by the second-string boss.

Also named in his XI were Jack Robinson, Andre Wisdom, Michael Ngoo and Tom Ince, joining the likes of Stephen Darby, Steven Irwin, Amoo and Mavinga.

Meanwhile, there were a couple of familiar faces in former Kop hero Peter Beardsley's Newcastle selection.

Experienced ex-England international Sol Campbell started at the heart of the Magpies' defence, while there was also a place for Greg McDermott - son of iconic 1970s Anfield legend Terry.

The visitors began brightly and Darby brought a good early stop out of Ole Soderberg with a powerful near-post header from Suso's corner that required the Newcastle 'keeper to divert it around the upright.

The Reds had made all the early headway, but Newcastle was awarded a penalty on eight minutes when Mavinga brought down Airey inside the box.

The No.9 dusted himself down and took the spot-kick himself, beating Martin Hansen with a powerfully struck effort into the bottom corner.

Liverpool was visibly shaken by the setback, but they gradually began to find their footing in the contest once more.

On 22 minutes, Suso's dangerous in-swinging free-kick was diverted away from the head of Mavinga by Campbell. From the resulting corner, the Spaniard's enticing delivery was nodded over the bar by the unmarked Amoo.

Then, Suso's clever flick into the path of Ince sent the winger scurrying into the box, only for his control to let him down at a crucial moment.

The 16-year-old was at the heartbeat of every offensive foray by the Reds - and he duly drew McMahon's troop level on 27 minutes.

Collecting the ball midway inside the Newcastle half, Suso motored forward before driving an unstoppable effort into the back of the net from 25 yards, leaving Soderberg grasping air.

The home side's Swedish stopper fared better moments later as he plucked another tantalising set piece by the Spain starlet away from the head of Mavinga inside the six-yard box.

Liverpool were now firmly in the ascendancy and Ngoo was unfortunate not to put them into the lead five minutes before the break when the striker outmuscled Campbell to reach a long-ball forward, only to see his effort from a tight angle repelled by Soderberg.

There was still time for one more attempt from the guests, but Suso flashed well wide after a jinking run as half-time loomed.

Liverpool could not maintain the same intensity in the early stages of the second period as Newcastle made a promising start with Airey drilling into the side netting when well placed.

Nonetheless, a lightening raid forward from the visitors almost paid dividends as Irwin's clever pass released Ince into the left-hand channel of the box, but his low centre agonizingly evaded both Amoo and Ngoo courtesy of a timely deflection.

The livewire wide man then lofted an effort straight into the grateful hands of Soderberg after Ngoo's piercing pass released him into space on the edge of the box.

After their sluggish opening to the second 45, McMahon's side had regained control and Ngoo shaved the base of the post with a curling shot on the hour.

But Liverpool were struck by a sucker punch on 61 minutes as half-time substitute Ameobi bundled the ball over the line after Ryan Donaldson had headed Airey's deep centre into his path six yards out.

After overcoming the setback of falling behind undeservedly for the second time in the contest, the Reds' response saw Irwin sting the palms of Soderberg with a fiercely-struck effort.

And Amoo deservedly equalized for Liverpool on 78 minutes as he powerfully surged onto Irwin's pass into the area and saw a shot deflect off Paul Dummett to find the back of the net.

Robinson could have won it for the the Reds late on, but he drilled straight at Soderberg after collecting Michael Roberts's pass, while Ince was millimetres away from converting Darby's cross at the death.