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Last Updated: Friday, 25 January 2008, 15:18 GMT
Liverpool complete 350m package
Computer generated image of Liverpool's new stadium design.
The new stadium will dramatically increase Liverpool's income

Liverpool have confirmed their 350m refinancing deal and revealed the latest design for their new stadium.

The club plan to build the 71,000-seat venue close to Anfield in Stanley Park in time for the 2011-12 season.

Owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett have also insisted that they are fully behind manager Rafael Benitez.

"Since the meeting with Rafa on 16 December, Rafa has been assured that he has continuing and enthusiastic support," said Hicks.

"Reflecting that support, Kop Football Holdings (Ltd) recently approved his transfer payment request to sign Martin Skrtel for 6.5m and is in discussions with Rafa and club management regarding additional player signings this summer.

"Rafa is under contract for two more seasons following this season. I am solidly behind Rafa and am confident of the team's competitive prospects under his continuing leadership."

A statement from Kop Football Holdings (Ltd), the American duo's holding company, confirmed that of the 350m refinancing package, 105m will be debt tied to the club.

Club supporters can look forward to the timely commencement of construction work on the new stadium

Tom Hicks

Of that, 45m will be used for future player transfers and to meet the club's working capital needs, while BBC sports editor Mihir Bose said 60m will provide the start-up money for the new ground.

"The refinancing deal that Hicks and Gillett have struck only lasts 18 months," said Bose.

"Clearly, more than the allotted 60m will be needed for the new stadium and so the level of debt will no doubt go up when they come to renegotiate the deal in 18 month's time.

"Also interesting is that all today's comments come from Tom Hicks. A spokesman for Hicks told me that Gillett plans to make his own comments.

"This provides some indication that all is not well in the relationship between the two co-owners despite the agreed financial package."

The deal is expected to help Hicks and Gillett repay money borrowed for their 218.9m takeover in March 2007.

"This new financing package is a strong vote of confidence in the club's financial strength and a recognition of the exceptional opportunity represented by the construction of the club's new state-of-the-art stadium at Stanley Park," said Hicks.

"The successful completion of this financing package is particularly significant in light of the currently challenging credit-market environment.

"With the refinancing process now done, club supporters can look forward to the timely commencement of construction work on the new stadium and renew their focus on actions on the pitch."

606: DEBATE

The deal underlines the pair's determination to remain at Anfield despite interest from Dubai International Capital (DIC), the investment arm of the Dubai government.

Hicks will also feel he will be in a stronger position should he decide to sell in the future, dealing a blow to DIC's hopes of mounting a swift bid to take control of the club.

But Bose said: "I'm told by my sources in Dubai that DIC is still very keen and has been selling assets to make sure it has the necessary money.

"It was not keen on this refinancing because it feels it puts up the price of Liverpool. But DIC is still in the wings, and I wouldn't be surprised if something happens on that front, maybe not just now but in the next year or so."

Benitez admits that the volatile situation at Anfield has played on his mind.

But he hopes the end of the row means he can now discuss transfer budgets - the central issue in the fall-out between him and owners.

He is determined to sort out the future of midfielder Mohamed Sissoko, who says he expects to sign a deal with Juventus.

"We want to bring fantastic players to this club in the future, that is the aim. I have seen the new stadium plans and, I hope to be here when it opens," the Spaniard said.

"We are working on Sissoko's future, and we are close to a final solution.

"And I am confident that (Javier) Mascherano will stay with us - the money from a transfer for Sissoko can certainly help. I talked with Mascherano this week and he wants to stay here. I believe he will."

Meanwhile, some Liverpool fans want DIC to bid after Hicks and Gillett angered them by admitting they had sounded out Jurgen Klinsmann as a possible replacement for Benitez, with whom they had a high-profile row.

Liverpool's co-owners George Gillett (left) and Tom Hicks
Gillett (left) and Hicks took over the club in March 2007

A survey carried out by the Liverpool Supporters' network showed that 76% of 2,000 fans questioned said they would "seriously consider reducing their financial commitment to the club" if the current owners stayed in charge.

When asked to choose between the owners and the manager as to who had the best interest of the club at heart, 99% backed Benitez.

"The results of this survey are indicative of the strength of feeling among Liverpool fans that the club is very much in the wrong hands at present," said LSN spokesman Neil Atkinson.

"Tom Hicks and George Gillett are not trusted."

But the Americans will be hoping the unveiling of the new stadium design by US firm HKS will help to placate supporters.

Hicks said: "HKS has developed a more efficient design that, at the same time, is just as stunning as the original one.

"Liverpool supporters should have high expectations for the future - a premier sporting experience at their new stadium and a winning club on the pitch for years to come."



SEE ALSO
Mihir Bose blog
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Crouch critical of Liverpool form
23 Jan 08 |  Liverpool
Hicks denies Liverpool sale plans
21 Jan 08 |  Liverpool
Q&A - Liverpool refinance plans
21 Jan 08 |  Liverpool
Gerrard hits out at unstable Reds
21 Jan 08 |  Liverpool
Liverpool 2-2 Aston Villa
21 Jan 08 |  Premier League
Alan Hansen's view
21 Jan 08 |  Football
Liverpool braced for takeover bid
20 Jan 08 |  Liverpool
Liverpool admit Klinsmann talks
15 Jan 08 |  Liverpool
Liverpool owners deny sale claims
17 Jan 08 |  Liverpool
US pair agree Liverpool takeover
06 Feb 07 |  Liverpool


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