Anfield deal is on but Hicks still plans to rule

By JOHN EDWARDS

Last updated at 20:59 06 March 2008


Tom Hicks opened the door for Dubai International Capital on Thursday but was still trying to insist he would only allow them into Anfield on his terms.

The battle for control of Liverpool appeared to take a dramatic turn when Hicks declared that he was willing to allow co-owner George Gillett to sell to them. But he said any deal could not be for Gillett's entire 50 per cent stake.

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hicks and gillett

End of a storm? Hicks (left) is ready to let Gillett sell most of his shares to DIC

In a move designed to tap in to DIC's vast fortune without surrendering power to them, the 61-year-old Texan announced that Gillett could sell 49 per cent of the club,

provided he got the other one per cent to make him the majority shareholder.

After weeks of uncertainty, culminating in last Thursday's £400million bid to wrest control from the Americans, a deal could finally be close at hand after it emerged that Hicks is due in London early next week to discuss Liverpool's future with DIC.

It is understood DIC's chief negotiator Amanda Staveley has received assurances that Hicks is prepared to give serious consideration to the offer and that the saga could be over by the time Liverpool's players return from next week's Champions League tie at Inter Milan.

There have been suggestions from inside DIC that Hicks had given the go-ahead for his business partner to cash in his whole stock.

These claims were firmly denied by an associate of Hicks, who insisted the American wants to remain in charge.

Hicks' latest ploy, of demanding an extra one per cent of Liverpool's shares in any Gillett sell-out, appears a transparent attempt to lure in DIC as major investors without letting them rule the boardroom.

It seems DIC may be willing to go along with it after deciding they could use it as a stepping stone to an eventual agreement that would end the Hicks association with Anfield.

They underlined their growing confidence by borrowing an American sporting phrase to illustrate their view of how negotiations are proceeding. 'We are in the end zone,' said an insider.

'To accommodate a deal, DIC would, within reason, accept certain agreements. It looks as if we are in the home straight and that a deal involving both parties could be imminent.'

Liverpool supporters remain dismayed at the way the Americans have saddled the club with massive debts and, in protests during the 4-0 home win over West Ham on Wednesday, urged them to sell to DIC.

As Benitez continued preparations for next week's trip to Milan, Inter president Massimo Moratti did his best to disrupt them by claiming he wants to sign Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard next season.

Moratti told La Stampa: 'The player who could add something useful to our current team is Gerrard. The Liverpool midfielder is strong, consistent, brave and simply top class. But I do not think there will be an opportunity to buy him.'

Meanwhile, Spanish papers claim Liverpool are interested in Real Mallorca's Argentine striker Oscar Trejo.

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