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Hicks Snr claims Kop debts manageable and promises 'big' summer spending

TOM Hicks has shrugged aside the controversial resignation of his son from the Liverpool board by claiming that the club's debt problems are not as severe as those of Manchester United.

The Liverpool co-owner also vowed to spend "big" in the summer transfer window.

In a day of high drama for the two north-west giants, Tom Hicks Jr announced that he was stepping down as a Liverpool director after admitting sending an abusive email to a fan.

United, meanwhile, announced plans to raise £500m to restructure their debts after paying out £41.9m in interest during the past financial year.

United's problems gave Hicks an opportunity to divert attention from the storm at his own club and he duly took it.

In an email of his own to a fan, he intimated that Liverpool's debt -- in excess of £200m -- is more manageable than that of their great rivals.

He also insisted that while Liverpool will not be splashing out in the present transfer window, they are already planning to invest heavily in the summer to bolster Rafael Benitez's squad, and claimed the long-awaited new stadium will be delivered.

"Our debt is very manageable (see Man U) and we never use player sales for debt service," Hicks Sr wrote in the email, responding to concerns from a supporter that Liverpool will not be big spenders in January.

"Our interest on £200m is about £16m. The new stadium will be the game changer. January is a poor quality market. The summer window will be big.

"We are working hard on the new stadium. We have an excellent management team and manager. We know we need more depth on the squad and will address it this summer. We hope to have a stronger second half of the season."



CONCERNS

Liverpool's search for investment is continuing, but there is evidence that the financial concerns that have plagued them for so long are beginning to filter down to Benitez's playing squad.

Ryan Babel, the Holland forward, responded to a question on Twitter, the social networking site, about his opinion on Hicks and George Gillett Jr, his fellow American, by saying: "We need money for the club."

It is that apparent weakness that has prompted fears that Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres or both could be prised away from Anfield should Liverpool fail to qualify for next season's Champions League. Reports in Italy suggest that Jose Mourinho will launch his third attempt to sign Gerrard, this time for Inter Milan rather than Chelsea, next summer.

The chances of Gerrard leaving Liverpool for an Italian club are remote, but rivals sensing weakness at Anfield will give their supporters added cause for concern.

The resignation of Hicks Jr from the club's board at least solved one problem, the Texan falling on his sword after he sent an abusive email to Stephen Horner, a Liverpool fan, in which he said: "Blow me, f***face."

The Liverpool hierarchy did not hesitate to accept Hicks's offer to step down. His place has been taken by Casey Coffman, the executive vice-president of Hicks Holdings.

© The Times, London


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