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'Disgrace' in Lyon sparks 100million rescue plan for Liverpool

06 Nov 2009 11:40:28

'Disgrace' in Lyon sparks 100million rescue plan for Liverpool

Liverpool's hierarchy are piecing together a £100million rescuepackage to try to turn round a season that has been branded 'adisgrace' by one of their own players. Anfield bosses hope to have the cash injection in place by Januaryand will be eager to avoid any delays after keeper Pepe Reina turned onhis own team-mates and berated their Champions League failings. A 1-1 draw in Lyon has left Liverpool staring at a costly groupstage elimination and Reina fumed: 'Disgracefully, it is not in ourhands any more - we need Lyon to get something at Fiorentina.' In-fighting: Liverpool pair Mascherano and Benayoun argue during a disappointing evening in Lyon  Raging keeper Reina slams Liverpool's 'disgraceful' Champions League effortsPICTURE EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool ace Fernando Torres visits clinic for tests on troublesome groin Poppy power! Now only three Premier clubs are refusing to back campaignLiverpool down and on their way out - but defiant Rafa Benitez remains hopeful of a miracleAs Liverpool braced themselves for a shortfall of up to £18m on their latest Champions League takings, it emerged they have been working feverishly behind the scenes to ensure there is no repeat next season. Co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett have been courting potential investors in recent weeks and are now ready to press ahead with a rights issue of shares that would dilute their holding but, crucially, generate extra income of around £100m. After being vilified by fans over alleged broken promises, the Americans view surrendering some of their power as a price worth paying for being able to kick-start their much-delayed stadium project and provide transfer funds for the January window. 'A disgrace': Reina berated Liverpool's failure to beat Lyon It is understood managing director Christian Purslow has already hadnegotiations with interested parties and that Hicks and Gillett, whileretaining a majority stake, are prepared to reduce their holding toaround 35 per cent each to secure the necessary investment. The rights issue has echoes of David Moores' appointment as chairman 18 years ago, when he bought over 50 per cent of the club for £12m, and heaps even more pressure on manager Rafa Benitez. While building a new ground a stone's throw away at Stanley Park remains the priority for Hicks and Gillett, they are acutely aware of their squad's shortcomings and keen to release transfer funds in the New Year. Summer exodus: Torres could quit Anfield if Liverpool fail to qualify for the Champions League next season Whether Benitez will be trusted with them evidently depends on whathappens between now and then. The promise of new investment could giveHicks and Gillett the financial muscle needed to dispense with theirunder-fire manager, even at a cost of £20m in compensation. It is bound to be given serious consideration if Liverpool continueto falter and risk missing out on the Champions League altogether nextseason. They will forfeit up to £18m if they fail to overhaulFiorentina in the next few weeks and face being out of pocket by almosttwice as much if they finish outside the Barclays Premier League's topfour next May. As an added concern, such a nightmarescenario would also cast doubt over the futures of key players such asFernando Torres, Reina, Javier Mascherano and even Steven Gerrard.Torres, Reina and Mascherano all see the Champions League as anessential showcase for their talents, while Gerrard would be just asdismayed, even if he is unlikely to turn his back on his home club, atthis late stage, after twice pulling out of moves to Chelsea. Stoppage time: Lisandro secures a draw for Lyon against Liverpool A return of one win from eight games has surely put paid to Liverpool's title hopes, but Reina was just as perturbed by the way they have been left lagging five points behind Fiorentina in Group E, with just two games to go. But he argued: 'We can handle the pressure. We can trust in ourselves, and we will turn this situation around - I am sure of that.' Ronnie Whelan blamed Benitez's transfer dealings for Liverpool's plight. 'I don't doubt Benitez's passion for Liverpool or his hunger to win for the fans, but his judgement in the transfer market has been awful and that's why the Kop will be watching Europa Cup games before too long,' said the former Liverpool midfielder. Ex-Liverpool skipper Graeme Souness said: 'If Rafa had been at any other big club - Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United - he would not still be manager, because their supporters are not like Liverpool's. Liverpool fans are a bit more patient.'  Raging keeper Reina slams Liverpool's 'disgraceful' Champions League effortsPICTURE EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool ace Fernando Torres visits clinic for tests on troublesome groin Poppy power! Now only three Premier clubs are refusing to back campaignLiverpool down and on their way out - but defiant Rafa Benitez remains hopeful of a miracle  Explore more:People:George Gillett, Rafa Benitez, Tom Hicks, Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano, FERNANDO TORRES, David MooresPlaces:Liverpool, Lyon, Stanley Park


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