NEWS ITEM: Liverpool parted company with manager Rafa Benitez on Thursday to end the Spaniard’s six-year roller-coaster reign at Anfield. The debt-ridden football club is co-owned by former Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett and Dallas Stars owner Fred Hicks.
It is said, “Humility and success make great partners but rarely do they live together.”
In hindsight, George Gillett, who in 1977 joined forces with Fred Hicks of Dallas to buy Liverepool FC of the English Premiership, might have taken note of the words. When he was owner of the Canadiens, George Gillett was about as good as he could be. While many in sports ownership consider ownership and ego extension, Gillett left the running of his hockey club to those who knew what they were doing, which included team president Pierre Boivin, whom he inherited from the Molson ownership when he bought the team. It was under Boivin’s leadership, backed by Gillett’s unquestioning agreement, that the Canadiens hired Bob Gainey and built a marketing department that is probably the NHL’s best.
So, how is it that a man can be so successful in Montreal be such a disaster a co-owner of Liverpool FC in the English Premier League. Liverpool FC has been co-owned by Gillett and Tom Hicks. It’s the co-ownership that seems to be the problem. Gillett, who’s background is meatpacking and ski resorts and not sports knew enough, as we found out in Montreal, knew enough to keep his nose out of things he didn’t understand. Hicks, unlike Gillett, never learned to listen to the people who knew what they are doing . His background is cable television and his rapsheet includes that disastrous Alex Rodriguez-Texas Rangers contract years ago. The partnership has been made in hell. Gillett, who knows enough to keep his nose out of things he doesn’t understand. Hicks, who wants to be front and centre and the star of the show.
Today, connected to the story about the buyout of the six year contract signed in March by Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez was the report that the Liverpool club is 350 million pounds in debt and up for sale. Benitez accepted a buyout of a three-month old contract of one-quarter of it’s value because reportedly had not chance of collecting the 16 million pounds designated in the deal. Liverpool finished seventh in the premier league, failed to advance from the group stages and failed to qualify for the Champions League all of which wich cost the franchise millions. This comes only five years after the team won the Champions League final and four years after Liverpool won the FA Cup..
The partners put the franchise up for sale in April, much to the delight of the weary Liverpool fans who have grown into a passionate dislike for the par. Unlike Gillett’s disposal of the Canadiens last summer, in this case there are no obvious bidders, at least not at the asking price.
This from the BBC Sports Website in April:-
Supporters have regularly voiced their dissatisfaction at the level of debt taken on by the club after the buy-out by the American duo.
Last October, several hundred Liverpool fans staged a protest march organised by the Spirit of Shankly group against the owners ahead of their Premier League clash against Manchester United.
The board’s popularity with the fans disintegrated further when Hicks’ son, Tom Hicks Jr, became embroiled in a row with a supporter who alleged the American had sent him abusive emails.
As a result Hicks Jr resigned as a director of the club and parent company Kop Holdings, leading to a restructure of the board.
Gillett and Hicks have also endured a fractious relationship with each other, which early on in their reign threaten to undermine their ownership with the former revealing the partnership had become “unworkable”.
In 2008, Hicks blocked Gillett’s moves to sell his 50% share to Dubai International Capital group as the pair feuded over future plans for the club and an outright £500m takeover bid by the DIC group was also rebuffed, with Hicks hinting he would attempt an outright takeover bid himself.
They subsequently patched up their differences but the sense of unrest at the club continued, not least in the often difficult working relationship the board shared with manager Benitez.