Tom Hicks faces hard times as Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt sign new deals
Hicks Sports Group, which owns the Dallas Stars ice hockey team and the Texas Rangers baseball franchise but, crucially, not Liverpool, failed to meet one month's interest payments on three loans from a syndicate of banks. Sources close to the Texan suggest that this could be interpreted as Hicks trying to convince the banks to renegotiate the structure of the loans. There will be no direct impact on Liverpool, who are part-owned through another Hicks vehicle, but with the club's owners due to renegotiate a £350million loan with RBS and the US investment bank Wachovia in July, the news is likely to shake confidence in his ability to refinance the deal and bring in new investors. Related ArticlesPremier League team newsLatest standings and statisticsFixtures and resultsCan Alan Shearer save Newcastle United?Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt joins Steven Gerrard in signing new dealLiverpool captain Steven Gerrard agrees two-year contract extensionIt is indicative of Liverpool's season that a reminder of the club's financial situation ruined an otherwise perfect day for the club. Benitez on Friday had to ask for an explanation for Sir Alex Ferguson's aphorism that this is 'squeaky bum time' for those involved in the title race, insisting he did 'not know the meaning of the squeak'. With Gerrard agreeing to add two more years to his current deal and Dirk Kuyt following suit, tying them to Anfield until 2013 and 2012 respectively, before the reports from the financial markets filtered through, things should hardly have been more serene for the Spaniard. On agreeing to stay at Liverpool until he is 33, Gerrard spoke of his desire to end his career at his boyhood club. Fabio Aurelio, Alvaro Arbeloa, Sami Hyypia and Daniel Agger are next in the queue outside Benitez's office for new contracts. Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina, too, will be offered new deals, although Benitez did admit no talks have been held as yet with Jamie Carragher. 'We wanted to be sure we keep our captain for a long time,' he said. 'As soon as we offered Gerrard the option he said yes. This will be a very, very positive message to the players.' There have been plenty of those at Anfield ever since Benitez seemed to set the club up for a harmonious end to an unpredictable season by ending his own contract saga last month. Nine goals against United and Aston Villa before the international break did Liverpool no harm and, minor niggles for Yossi Benayoun and Sami Hyypia aside, the club have a clean bill of health as the title race resumes. Benitez said: 'We were talking before the training session yesterday about how important this period is. Just like around Christmas, it's crucial. Fulham will have a lot of confidence after beating United and we will have to play very well.' Benitez's disappointment at not further improving their goal difference in the 5-0 win over Aston Villa is testament to his faith that his side can take United to the wire. 'The small details can make a massive difference,' he said. That is true both on and off the pitch. Should it go to goal difference, or should Liverpool not find the financial stability the Spaniard craves, he may yet come to understand the meaning of the squeak.
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