Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Hicks says funds from new shirt deal will be given to Benitez

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has promised to free up funds from the lucrative shirt sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered bank for Rafa Benítez to strengthen the squad and intends to reduce debts at the club. The Texan also revealed Liverpool expect to bring in over £26 million on sponsorship revenue in the next year, including a new deal with Carlsberg, the current shirt sponsors.

"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 in the Guardian.

"We had strong, positive cash flows last year. Our debts 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."

"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 have to look at who have had success for many years."

Hicks also believes Liverpool's new shirt sponsorship agreement with Standard Chartered will unlock new revenue for the club.

"We are seeing for the first time the real power of the brand and the power of a well-managed club," Hicks said. "I feel very good about the entire club. The total sponsorship contracts should probably bring in £25m-£26m of incremental revenue a year. It's a huge development for the club."

"It's not just the £21m that we will develop from the new sponsorship agreement with Standard Chartered because we will have an additional £2m or £3m for the Infinity part of the deal with Standard Chartered," Hicks said.

"We have an existing contract with Carlsberg until the end of the season. Between now and the end of the season we will finalise new arrangements where we will retain the Carlsberg special sponsorship packages and pour Carlsberg products in the stadium. They will be one of our key sponsors, just not on our shirts."

Hicks also intends to hand over funds from the deal to manager Rafael Benítez, he said:
"Knowing Benítez I suspect he's got his eye on part of it," Hicks said.

"As we build our revenues it gives 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."

"Everybody involved with Liverpool wants to win the Premier League, it's been too many years and it's our goal," Hicks said.

"I've been in sport for 15 years and sometimes you have to do things to get the players' attention to wake up and really get focused.

"Maybe we have learned the lesson [from the losses], certainly the way we played Saturday [beating Burnley 4-0] showed that we have. We have stability and the nucleus of the team."

"Everything is very stable. I think the management situation at the club has dramatically improved," Hicks said. "There is a real sense of optimism."

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