Thursday, May 05, 2011

Ayre Reveals Reds Optimism

Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre is optimistic for the future despite the club posting losses in its latest set of accounts.

The accounts, which will be published later on Thursday, saw the Reds record a £20million loss for the 12 months ending July 2010 - the last full year of the reign of former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

The figures show revenues rising to £184m, but net debt increasing to £123m, incurring interest payments of £17m.

Since then, Fenway Sports Group bought the Reds in October, while the accounts do not also include income from the record £80million, four-year shirt sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered agreed last summer.

Ayre said the arrival of FSG meant everyone was now optimistic about the health of the club, both on and off the field.

He told the club's official website: "As much as we are all aware of the difficult circumstances surrounding these accounts and that period in the club's history, everyone in the world can now see just how much has since been achieved.

"Since the end of the last financial year, FSG has paid off £200million of acquisition debt from the previous owners, dramatically reducing interest payments as a result and meaning we are able to invest more revenue in the team rather than servicing debt.

"We have also enjoyed significant commercial growth since these accounts were finalized, including our shirt sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered, which was the largest partnership contract in the club's history.

"On and off the pitch since the end of the last financial year, the picture is an improving one as we focus on growing profitability and strengthening the first, reserve and academy operations.

"We had an extremely successful January transfer window which saw the ownership and management teams working closely to bring in some high quality players.

"The club is now in an excellent position to move forward and all of us can approach the future with optimism."

James McCarthy Could Be On His Way To Anfield This Summer

Wigan Athletic midfielder James McCarthy is a summer transfer target for Liverpool according to Setanta Sports.

The highly rated Republic of Ireland international has caught the eye with a number of fine performances for the Latics since his 2009 move from Scottish side Hamilton Academicals.

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is said to be a big fan of the 20-year-old star, who previously turned down the chance to move to Anfield, and instead opted to cut his Barclays Premier League teeth with Roberto Martinez's side.

Reds assistant manager Sammy Lee was spotted at the DW Stadium last weekend, said to be running the rule over McCarthy in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Everton.

The People previously reported how Liverpool were preparing to test Wigan's resolve with a £7million bid in the summer, but that figure has since been inflated due to increased interest in the player.

A deal will largely be based around whether or not the Latics can avoid relegation this season.

If they do drop down to the Championship, then Liverpool are ready to pounce and may fancy their chances of securing McCarthy's signature for a knockdown price.

It looks set to be another busy summer for Liverpool when the transfer window reopens in June, with Reds owners Fenway Sports Group preparing to plough more money into the Anfield club in a bid to return it to its former glories.

Dalglish has already outlined a number of potential targets for director of football Damien Comolli to scout, with McCarthy believed to head the summer recruitment drive.

Comolli Convinced £5m Will Bring French Teen Striker To Liverpool

Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli is returning to his former club in an effort to land coveted teenager Idriss Saadi, according to reports.

The talented French U19 international has been earning rave reviews after an impressive debut season in Ligue 1, leading to a number of clubs across Europe taking an interest in the player.

Comolli, who used to be sports director at Saadi's current club St. Etienne, has been made aware of the player through his contacts in France and is eager to add the striker to the Liverpool ranks.

RMC reports Comolli is 'convinced he can land the player', in a move that would be another transfer coup for the Reds.

Since his arrival at Liverpool, the recently promoted Comolli has helped push through the transfers of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll and has been working closely alongside Kenny Dalglish in creating a summer wishlist of players.

Dalglish has reportedly earmarked a handful of players in a string of positions, with a left back, central defender, winger and striker thought to be the key positions on the Liverpool legend-come-manager's radar.

Comolli has been on a number of personal scouting trips monitoring a handful of players at home and abroad, and a return to Les Verts is thought to be on the cards as he looks to bring the cream of Europe to Liverpool.

Liverpool On Alert As Gervinho Snubs New Lille Deal

Reports from France suggest that Gervinho has refused to renew his contract with Lille. The Ivory Coast striker, who has been linked with Premier League outfit Liverpool, is keen to experience a new challenge and is thought to have blocked talks over a new contract.

The 23-year-old’s refusal to renew his present deal will send a clear signal to Lille that they must cash in on their talented forward or risk his value being diminished.

Les Dogues had hoped a Ligue 1 title win and Champions League football would be enough to persuade Gervinho to ink a new contract with the northern France side. However, it looks certain the Ivory Coast international, who has turned out with Lille since 2009, is ready for a fresh challenge.

Gervinho is believed to be keen to join a side that will be involved in European competition next season if he does leave Lille this summer, and this would appear to place Liverpool in the driving seat as the Reds look a good bet for Europa League qualification.

The news is sure to have been noted by a whole host of other teams though as Lyon, Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille and even Arsenal have, at some point in the past, been linked with the player.

Liverpool Planning Move For Munich Star

Liverpool are preparing a summer bid for Mario Gomez, according to reports. understands that Reds chief Kenny Dalglish is 'planning a summer move' for the Bayern Munich striker, a player the Reds were heavily linked with back in January.

Instead, the Merseysiders signed Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez, spending £55 million on attacking additions after selling Spanish international Fernando Torres for £50 million.

The website claims that Liverpool were rebuffed when they made an informal approach for the player in the opening month of the year, but are again in the market for a striker as the Scot looks to strengthen his forward ranks further.

'King Kenny' is reportedly considering a number of summer transfer moves, with The Metro claiming as many as 22 deals could take place at Anfield this summer as Dalglish looks to make his own mark on Roy Hodgson's old Liverpool side.

A left back, winger, attacking midfielder and striker are all thought to be high on the Liverpool agenda, with 25-year-old Gomez now emerging as the club's top target after a source claimed the club were still interested and have contacted Bayern.

With 24 Bundesliga goals to his name, the German international remains one of the most prolific in Europe and coveted by a number of top clubs across the continent.

Managerial changes are also on the agenda at the Allianz Arena this summer, potentially offering Liverpool the opportunity to pounce for Gomez.

Thomas Set For Sky Blues Return

Coventry will welcome starlet Conor Thomas back to the club from Liverpool - but the uncertainty over his long-term future remains.

The promising midfielder made a sensational and controversial loan move to Liverpool in January as cash-strapped City sought a reported quick fee with the possibility of a larger sum should the move be made permanent in the summer.

But Thomas has sustained a hamstring injury in training with the Reds and will head back to City for treatment, with reports suggesting a fixed deal may not materialize with the Premier League club and the 17-year-old could stay at the Ricoh Arena.

Sky Blues boss Andy Thorn told the Coventry Telegraph: "I spoke to Conor on Tuesday because he has got a hamstring injury which he did in training so I will be speaking to Liverpool to find out what's happening.

"But if they don't take him, then we will welcome the boy back with open arms because he's one of ours and we'll have him back around the fray, and I think the way we are playing will suit him as well.

"It has been a great experience for him going to Liverpool because he will have seen their standards and what other clubs do."

Maxi Targets Liverpool Stay

Liverpool winger Maxi Rodriguez has expressed his happiness with life at Anfield amid reports he could be sold in the summer.

The Argentine, a January 2010 signing from Atletico Madrid, has scored four goals in two games for Liverpool, including a hat-trick against Birmingham, to help the Reds overtake Tottenham in fifth position.

The prospect of European football next season, which had looked extremely unlikely, is now within reach and the 30-year-old hopes he will still be at Anfield to experience it.

"I am really happy here," said Maxi. "The people have treated us really well.

"The type of life we have here, the way of life, is very different to what we were used to after nine years in Spain but I am enjoying everything.

"How can you not enjoy it? I am at a great club and it is great to play here."

Liverpool's owners, Fenway Sports Group, are expected to overhaul their squad in the summer and it has been reported that Maxi would be sold.

But, with two years remaining on his contract, the wideman is focused on life at Anfield and hopes to help the club to European glory and a return to the Premier League's top four.

"Obviously it is everyone's dream to play in the Champions League. Not just for the players, but for the club," said Maxi.

"That is where Liverpool wants to be and deserve to be. But at the moment that is maybe not realistic so getting in the Europa League is our target.

"If we have to play in the Europa League, we will play in it and try to win it."

'Don't Expect Another 6-0 Win'

Pep Segura is relishing tonight's final Barclays Premier Reserve League North encounter with Manchester United at Anfield - but has warned supporters not to expect a repeat of the U18s' recent 6-0 victory over their arch rivals.

Three points will guarantee the second-string a second-placed finish in their section.

"This is a good game to end our league season and I like to play against the big teams because it brings out the best in the players," Segura told

"They know they need to concentrate 100% at all times, play with focus and passion and keep up a good level of performance.

"It's fantastic for the players to get the experience of playing at Anfield again and we are all looking forward to it.

"For the U18s to win 6-0 against Manchester United was a fantastic result for the club, the supporters and the Academy, but we need to be realistic.

"In that game we played against a young United team and it was not the result you normally get against them.

"I always prefer to play against the strongest team our opponent can put out.

"I prefer to see us beat them 1-0 or 3-2, work hard and play with commitment and passion."

Coaching Duo Earn Praise

Frank McParland has saluted the contribution of Pep Segura and Steve Cooper for their role in revamping the reserve team set-up.

The duo took temporary charge of team affairs following the departure of John McMahon in early March and the Academy Supremo has been pleased with how they have handled a difficult situation.

He told "Obviously Pep and Steve Cooper have worked in the Academy program for the past two years and we are building it up from the foundations. The reserves now adopt the same sort of training as the U18s do.

"I know they have both really enjoyed it. It's not been easy for them because the U18s and the reserves have struggled over the past few weeks because we have so many international call-ups.

"There have also been lads involved at first-team level due to the injuries we've suffered so it's not been easy to put out a settled side.

"It's all been a bit of balancing act but I think we are all moving in the right direction in terms of player development and what they have learned over the past month or so will put them in good stead going into the start of next season."

Liverpool Reveal £20m Losses In Last Year Of Hicks & Gillett Reign

Liverpool has revealed that the club sustained £20 million losses in the financial year between August 2009 and July 2010, during the reign of Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

The co-owners were widely disliked on Merseyside for false promises over a new stadium, while being blamed for the poor financial stability of the club prior to the takeover of Fenway Sports Group (FSG).

According to the Liverpool Echo, the interest payments rose from nearly £13m in 2009 to £17.7m a year later.

During the takeover, FSG repaid around £200m worth of debt accumulated by Hicks and Gillett, and are thought to have invested some money into the squad in addition to the £50m sale of Fernando Torres.

But before the FSG takeover, the accounts filed for the final full year of Hicks and Gillett's reign show that the revenue increased by £7m, and administration expenses - largely due to player contracts - increased by £20m.

And profits from player trading were £23m, which was likely due to the sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid.

The accounts read: "During the year the company committed a further £2.9m to the planning, design and enabling works of its new stadium project, giving a total of £48.4m carried forward under the heading of assets in the course of construction.

"At the year end [July 31, 2010] the directors were confident at that time that a new stadium would be funded and completed and were fully committed to the project.

"Following the acquisition of the company subsequent to the year end, the new owners are currently evaluating the best course of action with regard to the stadium.

"Whilst this review process has not been completed at the date of signing the accounts, it is highly likely there will be a significant write off of the new stadium project costs in the financial year ending July 31 2011.

"The directors continue to monitor the useful economic life of the existing stadium, which they consider to be five years including the current year."

Sports Identity Tasked With Producing Giant Liverpool FC Shirt For Fans

Hull based stadium branding specialist Sports Identity will provide giant replica shirts for football fans at Liverpool FC, Coventry City, Leicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and rugby crowds at Hull KR.

The giant shirts, each measuring around 270m2, are printed in 1.5m to 2m wide runs and stitched together by Sports Identity’s specialist team.

Loved by hundreds of thousands of fans across the UK, they are now set to go global as the brand new Liverpool away replica is to accompany the players on their summer tour of Asia. The 18mx15m Adidas sponsored shirt was previewed in Liverpool city centre last week ahead of its eagerly anticipated launch in May.

Lee Callanan, general manager of Sports Identity said: "One of our goals as a company is to continue to identify new ways for sponsors to advertise at sporting events and these shirts have been a huge success with sponsors able to increase the visibility of their branding to TV and match-day audiences. It’s a huge job and a huge end product but they are very rewarding jobs."

The company has also moved into new premises as the company expands following another successful year.

Their new 5,000 sq. ft. building on Sutton Field Industrial Estate has capacity to house their growing manufacturing business and also includes spacious offices, reception area, and custom-built mezzanine floor space.

Established in 2005, the company has achieved tremendous growth since it’s first contract at the KC Stadium and is now a leading supplier of advertising solutions to sporting venues throughout the UK and Europe.

The additional space is much needed to accommodate the rapid growth through new contract wins including a recent appointment by digital billboard replacement specialists Supponor. The partnership will help revolutionize advertising perimeter signage in sports stadiums by enabling multiple adverts to be shown simultaneously in different broadcasts and the contract will increase Sports Identity’s activity in Europe.

Lee Callanan added: "I have been with the company since it was formed and I am delighted to be helping to move the business forward with an actual physical move to new premises!"

He added: "We have a great team at Sports Identity and this move it a reflection of their hard work and dedication over the last 7 years that has made our Hull company a leading UK player in our industry. We are already excited to see what the future holds!"