Hicks has good news for Reds boss

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.”