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Hicks has good news for Reds boss
Published : 26 May 2010 20:40:00
iverpool co-owner Tom Hicks says Rafa Benitez will be able to keep all his top players this summer and spend "significant" money on new ones. The Texan and fellow American George Gillett decided last month to sell up at Anfield after more than three tempestuous years of infighting and fan protests. But despite mounting criticism over the way the pair have conducted their affairs since taking over in March 2007, Hicks claims Liverpool have actually improved under their leadership. Having posted their worst Premier League finish for 11 years - seventh - speculation has grown about the futures of Benitez, striker Fernando Torres and captain Steven Gerrard. However, Hicks says he and Gillett do not want to cash in on their prize assets - despite the debt of parent company Kop Holdings rising to £351million last summer - and are prepared to invest heavily in the squad. "We have no intention of selling any of our top players and we have a substantial transfer budget in place," said Hicks. "There's so much misinformation about transfer spending. It's more than doubled under the ownership of George and myself from the previous three years and we will make a significant investment this summer. It's really about getting the right players. "There's been so much misinformation put out by people who have their own agendas and it's unfortunate. But the truth is the club is much better off than it was three years ago. "We've done our best. I'm disappointed on a personal level that are efforts have not been received as well as I wish they had have been." Benitez has suggested he needs at least £50million to get the club back on track in terms of challenging for the Champions League places never mind the Premier League as they did in the 2008/09 season. Torres has also called for "four or five" quality signings this summer. Hicks said he was prepared to make allowances for one season. "We're all disappointed with where we finished this year," he added. "People forget that we almost won the Premier League last year (finishing a close second to Manchester United with a record 86 points). "We had injuries and players performing below their level of expectation." Only today former chairman David Moores admitted he "hugely regrets" selling to the Americans. Back in 2007 they paid £470million for Liverpool. But having incurred so much debt in the purchase and subsequent running and still failed to start work on the promised stadium in Stanley Park many potential investors baulked at the astronomical asking price of almost double that set by Hicks last month. However, the Texan believes that could be a fair price for a club which has reached two Champions League finals, winning one, since 2005. "I think I have said £600-800million is not an unrealistic value range, but the market's the market. We'll see," he told Sky Sports News. "We will sell the club. We're not going to sell it to the wrong group, we're not going to sell it for the wrong price, we're going to do it in a very thoughtful way. "I don't anticipate it will be done necessarily before the beginning of the next season. We hope it gets done by the end of the calendar year. "We're more concerned about finding the right next owner, somebody that can make the investment in the club to get the stadium built, and to let Liverpool be the best possible football club in the world. "The new stadium is fully designed now and the global financing markets are back so I think with the change of ownership coming we'll be able to have the new stadium built for Liverpool."