By JOE BERNSTEIN and DANIEL KING
Last updated at 22:12pm on 8th March 2008
The £500million battle for Liverpool descended into a bitter war of words last night as American co-owner Tom Hicks accused Dubai International Capital of resorting to dirty tricks in their bid to buy the club.
Despite a 3-0 victory over Newcastle delighting Anfield yesterday as Liverpool battled for the final Champions League place, the famous club's future was mired in controversy behind the scenes.
The woman at the centre of the row is Prince Andrew's former girlfriend, Amanda Staveley, who has been negotiating the deal on behalf of DIC.
A furious Hicks accused her of leaking a private email from the head of his sports company and warned that her allegedly aggressive tactics risked scuppering the Arabs' hope of buying into Liverpool.
"DIC is one of several potential minority investors we are or will be talking to," said the 61-year-old Texan multimillionaire.
"As for Amanda Staveley, who has a reputation for being pretty smart, she should know better than to publicly put words in my mouth, particularly words that she knows or should know perfectly well aren't true. She should also know better than to release actual copies of my private correspondence to the Press. If she thinks that is an appropriate way to acquire a stake in Liverpool FC, she'd better think again."
DIC and 34-year-old Staveley, who works for PCP Capital Partners, deny leaking the email and were bemused last night by the latest outburst from Hicks.
They remain confident there is nothing he can do to stop co-owner George Gillett selling his share of the club to them and are determined that they will have a significant say in how Liverpool is run, rather than be sleeping partners — the only situation Hicks says he will accept.
One or two DIC representatives, perhaps including Staveley, are set for seats on the board if Gillett Jnr completes the sale of his stake which was agreed late last week — 49 per cent of the club to the Arabs and one per cent to Hicks.
There will be a DIC presence among the travelling Liverpool fans at Tuesday's Champions League match against Internazionale.
The provisional deal struck with Gillett values Liverpool at £500m, including £350m of debts, leaving Gillett to walk away with a profit of £75m.
Assuming Hicks and DIC can strike an uneasy truce, the new partnership should not only guarantee a generous summer transfer kitty but also lead to the long-awaited start on a new stadium.
The recent refinancing of debts the Americans ran up in buying and running Liverpool left the club facing a £30m annual interest bill, which would have crippled manager Rafa Benitez in the transfer market even if the team succeeded in qualifying for next season's Champions League.
Yet even though Hicks would retain control by holding 51 per cent to DIC's 49 per cent, the involvement of the investment arm of the Middle East state all but ensures a healthy warchest.
you cowboy... why must you extend your unwelcome present in our club? GET OUT! GET OUT NOW!