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Page last updated at 06:13 GMT, Wednesday, 26 May 2010 07:13 UK

Former owner David Moores calls for Liverpool sale

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

Former owner David Moores has admitted he "hugely regrets" selling Liverpool to George Gillett and Tom Hicks and has called on them to sell up.

Moores sold the club to the American duo in 2007 but their reign has been controversial, with concerns mounting about the Premier League outfit's debt.

In a letter to the Times newspaper, Moores insisted he acted with the "very best interests of the club at heart".

He wants the pair to leave and added: "Don't punish the supporters any more."

Gillett and Hicks have had a turbulent spell in charge since taking over the club from Moores in a deal worth about £200m.

Their reign has proved unpopular with supporters, who regularly voice their dissatisfaction at the level of debt taken on by the club after the buy-out.

Liverpool are currently £351.4m in debt and the club's finances will not be helped by the failure to qualify for the lucrative Champions League next season. There are also issues over funding for a new stadium in Stanley Park as well as providing a budget for manager Rafael Benitez to operate with in the transfer market.

David Moores (left) and George Gillett at Anfield in 2007
Moores (left) talks with Gillett at Anfield in 2007

Gillett and Hicks announced in April that they intend to sell the club and Moores' wide-ranging 3,155-word letter, published the day after the five-year anniversary of Liverpool's stunning Champions League final victory over AC Milan in Istanbul, will place further pressure on Liverpool's co-owners to find a buyer.

In it, he addresses several issues, including the reasons for his sale, the checks the club did on Gillett and Hicks and his opinions on their tenure.

Moores, whose fortune derived from his family's Littlewoods pools and shopping empire, said his departure was in the pipeline following the hugely successful Euro 96 tournament in England with "the influx of more and more overseas superstars on superstar wages".

He stated: "I was aware the game was changing beyond all recognition and deeply worried, too, about my ability to continue underwriting the financial side."

Moores remained in charge but the search for a new owner started in the wake of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's takeover of Chelsea.

"The Abramovich era was upon us and I knew that I could never compete," added Moores.

He believes the hunt was conducted in the proper way and added: "So sincere was our commitment to finding that person or company, that we invested huge sums and massive amounts of time investigating potential investors, only to conclude that they were not the right people for Liverpool.

I call upon them now to stand back, accept their limitations as joint owners, acknowledge their role in the club's current demise, and stand aside, with dignity

Former Liverpool owner David Moores

"It would have been easier, I assure you, just to take the money, cross our fingers tight and hope things worked out - but we dug deep into every file and asked all the tough questions, knowing the answers might scupper any deal."

Moores said the process of looking into the background of Hicks and Gillett was detailed but there was an "element of the process I accept we could have handled better".

"We had looked into George Gillett's affairs in detail and he came up to scratch," he said. "To a great extent, we took Tom Hicks on trust, on George's say-so.

"Could we have done more? Probably - though under those circumstances, in that time-frame, probably not.

"We did our due diligence on Messrs Gillett and Hicks and if we're guilty of anything it is that, after four years searching, we may have been too keen, too ready to hear the good news that George and Tom had passed their tests."

Liverpool ended the season in a lowly seventh position in the Premier League after exiting the Champions League in the group stages, and stories linking Benitez as well as star players Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres with moves away from the club have started to circulate.

And with the future ownership of Liverpool also the subject of speculation, Moores - who is still an honorary life president of the club despite resigning from the board in June 2009 - has decided now is the time to speak out.

"It has been hard for me, sitting mute on the sidelines as the club I love suffers one blow after another," he concluded in his letter.

"Since resigning from the board I have not set foot inside Anfield - and it hurts. I hugely regret selling the club to George Gillett and Tom Hicks. I believe that, at best, they have bitten off much more than they can chew.

606: DEBATE
knuckles

"I call upon them now to stand back, accept their limitations as joint owners, acknowledge their role in the club's current demise, and stand aside, with dignity, to allow someone else to take up the challenge. Don't punish the club's supporters any more - God knows they've taken enough."

In the letter, Moores said "significant shareholders like Granada and Steve Morgan were insistent the board of LFC should accept the Gillett and Hicks offer and left me in no doubt about my legal duty to accept the offer".

However, Morgan, who is now the owner of Wolves, denied that was the case.

He told BBC Radio Merseyside: "I haven't read the letter but I would disagree with that statement.

"Perhaps if he had done some due diligence at the time then it wouldn't have happened but we are where we are.

"I agree with the sentiment that something drastic needs to happen at Liverpool to get it out of the mess it's currently in."

Liverpool Supporters' Club chairman Richard Pedder believes the letter will not have an affect on the sale of the club.

He told BBC Radio Merseyside: "It's other pressures from other areas that will force them to do something.

"The banks are the big issue with them. They have got to pay that money over. That's what they are going to be looking at, if they can't raise the money then hopefully they will sell."



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see also
Reds will prosper, says Carragher
20 May 10 |  Liverpool
Debt 'will not force Torres sale'
08 May 10 |  Liverpool
Benitez keen to stay as Reds boss
09 May 10 |  Liverpool
Liverpool post loss as debts rise
08 May 10 |  Liverpool
Owners put Liverpool up for sale
16 Apr 10 |  Liverpool
Liverpool agrees bank debt deal
27 Jul 09 |  Business
Liverpool director Moores resigns
18 Jun 09 |  Liverpool
US pair agree Liverpool takeover
06 Feb 07 |  Liverpool


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Football365.com Dalglish: Reds Will Ride The Storm - 1 hr ago
Sky Sports Hicks - Buyers are interested - 2 hrs ago
Daily Finance UK Liverpool FC control battle gets ugly - 4 hrs ago
Guardian.co.uk Hicks pledges 'substantial' transfer funds - 9 hrs ago
Yahoo! UK and Ireland Hicks won't sell Liverpool on the cheap - 11 hrs ago


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