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Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 13:57 UK

Aldridge raises Liverpool concern

MAN CITY v LIVERPOOL
Venue: Eastlands Date: Sunday, 5 October Kick-off: 1500 BST
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Sport website, BBC Radio Five Live & highlights on Match of the Day 2. Commentary on BBC Radio Merseyside 95.8 FM

By Russell Barder

Aldridge pictured during his last job in football management with Tranmere in 2001
Aldridge has given his backing to a Liverpool fans bid to takeover the club

John Aldridge fears for Liverpool's future if the club's American owners fail to resolve their financial issues.

George Gillett and Tom Hicks have come under fire from Liverpool fans worried over transfer spending and their treatment of manager Rafael Benitez.

Plans for a new stadium have been beset by delays and Aldridge is concerned by the direction the club is heading.

"The club's not really getting run at at the moment; it's getting neglected," the former Reds striker told BBC Sport.

"Whilst the Americans have their problems, the club is getting deeper and deeper into trouble, especially with the new stadium and everything else."

Liverpool are second in the Premier League going into Sunday's match at big-spending Manchester City, but Aldridge is worried about matters elsewhere.

The proposed new stadium adjacent to the club's current home has had two re-designs and the loans the pair took out to buy the club have had to be refinanced.

"On the pitch (Liverpool) are not doing too badly, they're holding their own, but the stadium is nowhere near to what it should be at this time," he said.

"But that is just part of what's happened unfortunately.

"Liverpool Football Club never do their business in public, but over the last 12 months or so it has become publicised.

"The Americans have done a lot of homework, but they obviously don't know the true history and how the club goes about itself."

We're in a bit of a mess at the moment, on the pitch we're OK, but you can see it getting worse.

John Aldridge
Liverpool supporters have become increasingly frustrated at the way the club is being run and before the recent 2-1 victory at home to Manchester United, the Spirit of Shankly group organised a march in protest against Hicks and Gillett.

Since taking over there have been cracks in their relationship with Benitez and in the summer the Spaniard was frustrated at the board for not sanctioning an 18m move for Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry.

However, despite missing out on Barry, the Liverpool boss is believed to have spent about 40m in the summer, including the capture of Robbie Keane from Tottenham for 20.3m.

The Americans also oversaw the club record signing of Fernando Torres the previous summer and in February they sanctioned a permanent deal for midfielder Javier Mascherano, who is thought to have cost the club about 18m.

Matters came to a head at the beginning of 2008 when Hicks revealed he had spoken with former Germany manager Jurgen Klinsmann about the possibility of taking over at Anfield.

Gillett has also spoken about how the relationship between himself and the Texan had become "unworkable", before saying in June that communication had "substantially improved".

606: DEBATE
However, despite their off-field problems, Liverpool remain unbeaten in the Premier League after six games and sit level on points with Chelsea at the top of the table.

Sunday's trip to Eastlands provides a contrast to the situation at Anfield after Man City's recent takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group.

Backed by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of the Royal Family in Abu Dhabi, City appear to have bountiful resources in their pursuit of success and Aldridge is fearful at the effect that could have on Liverpool's future.

"All of a sudden they (Manchester City) have got this sugar daddy who is going to make them into a force," he said.

"We've hung on to third or fourth spot in the last few years, and done well in Europe, but that's a must now because Man City are going to come into the fold.

"If we get pushed out of that top four, all of a sudden the stadium problems escalate and the board problems escalate.

"We could be in a bit of the mess. We're in a bit of a mess at the moment, on the pitch we're OK, but you can see it getting worse."

Aldridge is keen for the club to come under new ownership and has given his backing to an initiative set-up by lifelong Liverpool fan Rogan Taylor, which would see the club owned by its fans.

Robinho
Aldridge believes Man City could upset the Premier League's top four
Share Liverpool FC aims to get 100,000 supporters to pledge 5,000 each so they could launch a takeover and former Republic of Ireland international Aldridge, who has been appointed to the board of the scheme, believes the idea is not as far-fetched as it may appear.

"Unfortunately there are a lot of pessimists who don't think we've got a cat in hell's chance of doing it, but we're all very positive," said the 50-year-old.

"The people Rogan's got involved are very clever, astute businessmen and they could run Liverpool Football club now.

"The problem is we need to get the money in place ASAP to give ourselves a chance.

"We might not be able to go in 100%, but in the next year or so we could get a percentage of the club.

"That would put us in a good position to go forward and the people who are looking at us and might not be too sure could jump on the bandwagon."


see also
Man City v Liverpool
02 Oct 08 |  Premier League
Liverpool supporters hold protest
13 Sep 08 |  Liverpool
Man City buyers complete takeover
23 Sep 08 |  Man City
Ownership rules concern FA chief
12 Sep 08 |  Football
Liverpool stadium faces new delay
29 Aug 08 |  Liverpool
Barry transfer saga riles Benitez
16 Aug 08 |  Liverpool
Liverpool pair attempt peace pact
20 Jun 08 |  Liverpool
Liverpool co-owner reveals split
28 Mar 08 |  Liverpool
Gerrard hits out at unstable Reds
21 Jan 08 |  Liverpool
Liverpool complete 350m package
25 Jan 08 |  Liverpool
Benitez wants to call Reds truce
26 Nov 07 |  Liverpool
Duo complete Liverpool takeover
27 Mar 07 |  Liverpool


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