Spending big isn't so smart, Liverpool co-owner Hicks tells Manchester City
Liverpool chief Tom Hicks has hit out at the Arab owners of Manchester City and insisted their £120million transfer spending spree is 'unsustainable'. Hicks is determined to drive down Liverpool's debt and says he will operate the Anfield giant as a 'smart club' unlike Manchester City. 'It's not sustainable at City, they won't continue to invest like that as it doesn't make good economic sense,' Hicks said. 'Hopefully they will make the improvements they need to make and then run it more like a business. The smart clubs operate for the long term and you must look at who have had success for many years.' Dismissing concerns about Liverpool's financial health, the American co-owner said the club have never been stronger on or off the pitch. On Monday, they unveiled a £20m-a-year shirt sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered Bank. They also hope to raise another £5m a year with a new deal with brewing giants Carlsberg. 'You have to look at cash flow rather than accounting and we intend to operate Liverpool where it has a very strong positive cash flow so we have the resources to be as competitive as possible on the pitch. That's our commitment,' Hicks said. 'We had strong, positive cash flows last year. Our debt levels are at a very comfortable level and we are going to continue bringing it down. 'Our goal is to have less debt than any of the top clubs and that's a commitment we have made and will continue to make.' Hicks, along with American co-owner George Gillett, reduced the club's debt to £250m in July. Hicks expects manager Rafa Benitez, whose side take on Hungarian side Debrecen in their opening Champions League match, to contact him about using some of the revenue to buy players in the January transfer window. 'Knowing Rafa Benitez I suspect he's got his eye on part of it,' Hicks said. 'As we build our revenues it gives the ability to be more competitive on the pitch and this is a very important one, but we think we have other opportunities in the future as well.' As Hicks declares himself delighted with Liverpool's progress, Brazilian midfielder Lucas is happy to find himself the subject of fan approval rather than the booing that plagued him last season. The £6m signing from Gremio credits Benitez with saving his Liverpool career after he was jeered for a disastrous performance in the draw with Fulham 10 months ago. 'Everyone knows I had some difficult moments last season,' he said. 'When you are playing at home, you normally expect good things from your own supporters but it didn't quite work out that way. 'I tried my best to understand where they were coming from, and it was clear the reaction was because of Rafa choosing me and leaving Xabi (Alonso) on the bench. 'The whole team were below par that day, but it didn't matter. The fans looked at that one change and saw it as they key reason why we struggled. I really tried to understand, but it was difficult. 'No-one likes getting that sort of treatment. That's when Rafa came into his own. He took me to one side and said, "You are only a young boy. You need to improve, but I know you will. I know you can play better". 'There were lots of similar conversations that season. The great thing about Rafa is he is always straight. If he doesn't like you he will tell you. But he always said to me, "I believe in you. You are going to be a good Liverpool player". 'I came through it all feeling stronger and I owe him for that. He was so supportive and gave me confidence. I know that if he wasn't here I would not still be a Liverpool player.' Benitez said: 'He is a more complete player than a lot of Brazilians and I knew we were signing someone with passion and a very good mentality.' Meanwhile, Benitez confirmed yesterday he will appeal against an FA improper conduct charge following his comments about referee Phil Dowd at Tottenham.
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