George Gillett has admitted his relationship with Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has been “unworkable for some time”, in an interview which reveals him distancing at odds with his partner.
Gillett, who is expected to sell his 50% stake in the club when a suitable buyer is found, had not spoken publically on the turmoil at Anfield since the controversial financial repackaging of the loans he and Hicks took out to buy the club last year.
Gillett had initially wanted to buy the club on his own, but brought in Hicks’s financial might when he could not complete the deal himself.
Hicks is understood to be keen to take sole control of the club, while investment group Dubai International Capital also wants to invest.
But Gillett said: “This partnership has been unworkable for some time.
It means, says Gillett, that selling his share of the club to Hicks is now “an untenable alternative”.
“We were very fair,” he continued. “We gave our partner a long period of time to try to make arrangements to buy us out.
“We didn’t put pressure on him but he ultimately did not get to the finish line. In the meantime, because of the things he said, the fans’ reaction has been so negative towards him – and towards us if we sold to him – that has now made that an untenable alternative for us. When your public persona is more important than the facts, it’s tough to have a rational relationship.”
In an interview with radio station Fan590 in Canada, Gillett conceded that an investment from the DIC group would benefit the club.
“(The fans) do not want him (Hicks) to have any controlling interest in this club – they do not even want him to have any ownership in the club. He (Hicks) threatened to block me selling to Dubai – that was certainly one of the things that made the fans upset.”
“Lord knows DIC have the money; with oil prices going up every day, that’s not an issue. They certainly have the history and they are fans. I think they would have been very responsible owners.”
Gilett also confirmed that he and his family had received threatening phone calls from irate Liverpool supporters.
“The thing that angers fans the most is the prospect I might sell even one share of my stock to my partner,” Gillett added. “They do not want him to have any controlling interest in this club – they do not even want him to have any ownership in the club. As a result of that – and it’s been very difficult for my wife with the amount that I travel – we receive many phone calls in the middle of the night threatening our lives – death threats.
“A number came to the office and my son Foster and daughter-in-law Lauren have received them. It’s interesting the calls are not against my wife or myself or my son or my daughter in law, as much as they are against us selling to our partner. So we are rethinking that. Frankly I don’t think it’s fair for me to put my family in that kind of danger. So instead of thinking about selling I might think about buying.
“There are things going on – there are pieces on the chess board moving but it would not be helpful for us to comment. What I know is that the fans and the great fabled history of this club deserves better – and we are going to do whatever we can to prove that in whatever role we play.”
However, despite the threats, Gillett confirmed that he and his son Foster – a club director – intend to travel to England to attend one of the upcoming games against Arsenal next week.