Football - Liverpool FC: TOM HICKS believes there are “plenty” of people willing to invest in Liverpool – but has hinted it may be up to another 18 months before the club is sold.
And that could impact on the future of Rafael Benitez with the manager poised for showdown talks with new chairman Martin Broughton in the next 48 hours.
Hicks, along with fellow co-owner George Gillett, appointed Broughton last month to oversee the sale of the club after the pair expressed a desire to completely cut ties at Anfield.
Benitez is seeking assurances over significant funds in the forthcoming transfer window which is likely to only come from the cash injection brought by a swift takeover.
Speaking yesterday, Hicks confirmed a number of parties have expressed an interest in investing in Liverpool during the past two years, the most recent of which was the New York-based Rhone Group.
But the American – who took control of the club along with Gillett in February 2007 – intimated there is unlikely to be any imminent change of ownership, which could push Benitez closer to a move to Juventus.
“From discussions we’ve had over the last two years, there are plenty of those people (to invest in Liverpool) out there,” said Hicks. “We’ve owned it three years. We won’t own it for five.”
Both Hicks and Gillett have met with strong opposition from sections of the Liverpool support for much of their tenure, with demonstrations held both inside and outside Anfield on each of their recent visits to the stadium.
And the Dallas-based businessman believes he has “paid a terrible price” for being co-owner, but admits the club is not part of his heritage, comparing his ownership to that of two of his local peers.
“I can still be a fan, but I’ve paid a terrible price,” said Hicks. “I’m 64 years old. I don’t want that anymore.
“Jerry Jones is a good friend of mine, but his life and his family’s life is the Dallas Cowboys. Mark Cuban, the (Dallas) Mavericks are his life. This isn’t my life.”
New Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli is keen to formulate the Turin side’s plans as soon as possible and will press Benitez for a definitive answer on his future after Liverpool complete their season at relegated Hull City on Sunday.
The uncertainty over the Spaniard has resulted in inevitable speculation linking a whole host of players away from Anfield, the latest of which is Alberto Aquilani.
Fiorentina have been credited with an interest in Aquilani and his agent, Franco Zavaglia, has acknowledged the Serie A club’s sporting director, Pantaleo Corvino, is an admirer.
“The interest of Fiorentina is not new,” said Zavaglia.
“There are rumours about Aquilani and Fiorentina for three years.
“I don’t think there is anything concrete at the moment, but one thing is for certain, Alberto is a craze of Corvino.
“It is still too early to tell if a deal is possible. First of all the priority is to finish the season well. Then we will know what will be the future at Liverpool.”
Meanwhile, Martin Skrtel has received a World Cup boost after yesterday returning to full training following his broken metatarsal.
The centre-back hasn’t played since being stretchered off in Liverpool’s 3-1 Europa League win at Unirea Urziceni on February 25, but he is now hopeful of being fit for Slovakia’s opening game in South Africa against New Zealand on June 15.