A senior UEFA figure has revealed to a football inquiry that Liverpool came very close to going under while controversial owners Hicks and Gillett were in charge.
Hicks and Gillett took the reigns at Liverpool in February 2007, and attached more than £200m worth of debt to the Anfield club.
They had originally promised that no debt would be associated in the take over, telling reporters: “This is not a takeover like the Glazer deal at Manchester United. There is no debt involved.”
But it became apparent very quickly that the owners intended to do at Liverpool exactly what the Glazer family had done at Manchester United, and William Gaillard, adviser to UEFA president Michel Platini, told the inquiry that Liverpool came very close to bankruptcy.
“The leveraged buy-outs for many clubs end in disaster – just take Liverpool where you have owners who came, contracted debt, bought out the previous owners and saddled the club with the debt,” Gaillard said.
“The club has been rescued, thank God, because of the fantastic heritage of Liverpool Football Club, but it was a close call."
Gaillard, who is not exactly a fan favourite after calling Liverpool supporters ‘the worst in world’ when visiting Merseyside in 2009, cited the UEFA financial fair play rules which come into force in 2014 as the reason Liverpool was saved.
“John Henry at Liverpool and Thomas di Benedetto at Roma said the main reason they were investing in European football was because of the financial fair play rules,” Gaillard said.
“They make a much more predictable environment, more similar to what they are used to in American sport, a more regulated environment than the crazy situation that existed before.”