Uncertainty over the state of Liverpool's finances and future ownership of the club will disadvantage them in this summer's transfer market, according to a leading football financial analyst.
Despite sources close to American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett insisting there is no concern over the current level of debt, the £42.6million loss posted by parent company Kop Holdings has raised doubts over their ability to compete for top-quality signings.
Tom Cannon, professor of strategic development at Liverpool University's school of management, believes unless the finances can be sorted out swiftly manager Rafael Benitez is likely to lose out on more top targets, saying; "You can understand why they did not compete more aggressively for Gareth Barry."
England international Barry was high up on the wish-list last summer but the £18million quoted by Aston Villa was deemed too much and the midfielder this week completed a surprise move to Manchester City for £12million.
"I think Rafael Benitez is in a very powerful position because he has a lot to offer players who want to come in but he is operating under very strict trading conditions," said Cannon, after Liverpool's figures for the year ending July 2008 revealed Hicks and Gillett were paying £36million interest on the £350million loan they took out to buy the club.
"This is certainly going to hit Benitez's budget significantly.
"It is hard to see they could buy the quality of player at the kind of price they are going for this summer without selling.
"It looks like Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City will be spending money and Manchester United might be spending money so they (Liverpool) have to spend money to stay where they were - which is the main rival to United."
Cannon believes Hicks and Gillett may have to sell their interest in their American sport franchises (the Texas Rangers baseball side and Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team) or even cash in some of Liverpool's most saleable assets.
Midfielder Xabi Alonso is a reported £23million target for Real Madrid while Argentina captain Javier Mascherano is reportedly interesting Champions League winners Barcelona.