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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 February 2007, 13:11 GMT
Anfield of dreams
By John May

Tom Hicks and George Gillett
Hicks (left) and Gillett are ready to ride into town
Why would a man once named among the 100 most influential skiers of all time want to own a Premiership football club?

Are Liverpool fans comforted by knowing that half the American financial muscle behind the Anfield takeover owns household names on their tea table such as Branston Pickle, Crosse & Blackwell, Rowntree's Jelly and Sarson's Vinegar?

Such are the strange bedfellows created by the lust to own Premiership clubs, and George Gillett and Tom Hicks are the latest pardners to ride into town for the Premier League ownership gold rush.

Liverpool's new joint-owner Gillett earned the right to be named among the likes of Franz Klammer with his ownership of the swanky US ski resort of Vail, where he transformed American skiing by backing top international races.

George Gillett dons a Montreal Canadiens shirt
Pucker up as George Gillett takes the reins at Montreal Canadiens

That might not cut much ice on the Kop, but is indicative of the entrepreneurial spirit, coupled with a passion for sport, which prompted Gillett's move with Hicks.

Born in Racine, Wisconsin, Gillett started out as a sales manager, who after taking a post with the NFL's Miami Dolphins, became a partner in the franchise in 1966.

He sold his 22% holding in the Dolphins to buy the struggling Harlem Globetrotters basketball outfit and his American dream included recovery from the hiccup of filing for bankruptcy to build up a huge business empire.

606 DEBATE: What are your views on the proposed takeover?

Gillett's widespread business interests include television and newspapers, underpinned by his involvement in the food industry, principally meat-packing.

His personal fortune has allowed him to indulge his passion for sport by buying in, most notably the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team.

Gillett's purchase of the Canadiens in 2000 sparked a similar outrage among Canucks at a Yank taking over as the Glazer family's purchase did among Manchester United fans.

But Gillett has been good for the Canadiens, transforming a famous but moribund outfit into Stanley Cup contenders.

His ownership of an ice hockey club is the common denominator he shares with Hicks, who owns the Dallas Stars.

Hicks, the son of a Texas radio station owner, also possesses considerable financial clout, founding a capital investment company with a reputation for a sharp eye for an opening.

Tom Hicks with Alex Rodriquez
Hicks signed the biggest star in baseball in Alex Rodriguez

Its first big coup was the acquisition of Dr Pepper and Seven-Up, while the snaffling of an arm of Nestle gave Hicks' ownership of the English tea-time specials.

Like Gillett, Hicks has also bought into sport big-style. In addition to the Dallas Stars, he also bought the Texas Rangers baseball from a franchise that included President George W Bush among its owners.

Hicks also owns the Mesquite Championship Rodeo. Presumably that gives him experience in being able to cling on for dear life if the going gets bumpy.

Not that things are likely to go downhill fast if one of the 100 Most Influential Skiers of All Time has his hands on the reins.

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06 Feb 07 |  Liverpool
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06 Feb 07 |  Business
Parry explains takeover collapse
01 Feb 07 |  Liverpool
Consortium pulls out of Reds bid
31 Jan 07 |  Liverpool
Liverpool reveal Gillett approach
26 Jan 07 |  Liverpool


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