23 January 2008

90% of Liverpool FC fans want George Gillett and Tom Hicks out


IF THE message that rang out from the Anfield faithful on Monday night was not clear enough for Liverpool Football Club’s American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, then the one we reveal today with the results of our online survey is unequivocal. The fans want them out.
It is an extraordinary turnaround in the space of less than 12 months since the pair took over the reins at Liverpool amid so much optimism.
Then, as our survey demonstrates, almost three-quarters of you were happy to have them as the club’s new custodians. Now, nine out of ten of you would prefer the DIC consortium from Dubai to take over.
As you might expect from readers of the Liverpool Daily Post, this is no knee-jerk, “sack the board” response to the difficulties the owners have encountered.
If they do remain at the helm, your biggest concern is not that they free up money for transfers, which might be the instinct of many a football supporter, but that they do not saddle the football club with massive amounts of debt.
At the heart of your consternation is undoubtedly the owners’ increasingly difficult relationship with manager Rafael Benitez.
Indeed, an irony picked up on by many observers is that the ownership controversy has in a sense taken some of the pressure off Benitez over the side’s disappointing Premiership showing, serving to unite the fans behind him.
Our survey reveals that 94% of you want Benitez to remain as manager, but also that 77% of you expect him to have left Anfield by the end of the summer.
The latest statement from the Hicks camp – that they will not be selling to DIC – was clear, but to say that the reaction of supporters makes that position difficult to sustain is an understatement.
If they are indeed to stay, they need to make significant and immediate steps to build bridges with the fans and the manager. This great world football institution cannot be allowed to stumble on in the current state of uncertainty.

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