Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Gillett's interview in full

An interview with Liverpool co-owner George Gillett has hit national headlines today following its publication on fan site 'The Liverpool Way' on Saturday. The impromptu discussion held with Reds fan Michael, nicknamed 'Dougie Do'ins' was held at Liverpool's 'Academy' training facility in Kirkby prior to the Reds 6-1 victory over Hull on 26th September.

Gillett, who was giving a tour to Saudi Arabian delegation including prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah al-Saud, had earlier the same day arrived at Melwood, only to be greeted by protesting fans from the Liverpool Supporters Union 'Spirit of Shankly'. The American co-owner's tour then moved on to the 'Academy' based in Kirkby where he was once again confronted by angry fans. Gillett, then presumably in an attempt to 'save face' in the presence of his touring guests, offered to answer questions from one of the 'SOS' members present.

The fan who "went into the meeting with nothing prepared" as he didnt expect Gillett to take up his offer of a talk, later transcribed the conversation from "notes and memory."

Here is 'Dougie Do'ins' un-edited transcript in full:

As I dint think one half of our custodianship would invite me in for a talk please understand I went into the meeting with nothing prepared.

The discussion started about the current financial situation that the club is reportedly in and I started off by asking GG about what happened to the £60m borrowed from the bank as working capital and reported to get the construction on the new stadium started GG said he wasn’t aware of any £60m that had been reported.

GG} "If we tried to correct all the mistakes that had been printed we’d have a full time job doing it".

MC} "So there wasn’t £60m borrowed as a start up fund?"

GG} "I think what we did was paid it down".

I repeated the question.

GG} "I don’t think so I can’t recall it. The only money we have been involved in, we certainly haven’t Seen any money let’s put it that way".

I was then asked by GG to "try and take my attitude out of the questions".

GG} "When we bought the club we bought it with our own money" "CASH"

MC} "Your saying you bought the club with your own money".

GG} "When a year and a half later the credit crunch, we each put our portion of the club and refinanced

the business.

"Today the club has the lowest debt to each dollar of profit of any of the major clubs in the sport".

GG} "The club is in extraordinarily good condition, far better than Man U, Arsenal or Chelsea".

MC} "When you and Tom bought the club from Moores, how much debt was it in ".

GG} "The club had" (He then paused)

MC} "£40m"

GG} "Between 40 and £80m but it had no earnings"

GG} "Don’t you think we have invested massively" and said they had "put more money in other than City".

MC } "I would like to know where the money came from"

GG} "The vast majority of it came from Tom and mine, our personal cash, not from the club or anythingit came from us.

MC} "How much debt is the club in now"

GG} "That’s not the question the question is how the debt is relative to the earnings. The debt on the club today is very sound".

MC} "That’s not how the fans see it"

GG } "That’s bullshit the way the media writes it, they don’t understand how to write about cash flow and profit and loss"

MC } "Why don’t you make a public statement instead of us being drip fed information by the media as the media is often unreliable and like to sensationalise things. Why don’t the two of you make a public statement and explain where the club is at".

GG} "That’s a good idea".

MC} "We are being drip fed information".

GG} "Not by me I try to support our manager and let him have the freedom to spend it his way wisely, to do with scouting to go get the best young men available. That’s what we try to do I don’t get into strategy or individual players"

MC} "At the minute the earnings might be three because we have the fan base"

GG} "Our budgets are based on the last six years earnings of the club. We don’t put it on going to the finals or anything of that sort. The budgets are done conservatively".

MC} "A lot of it is based on champions league football".

GG} "It is based on a relatively limited success in the CL"

MC} "What if we went two or three seasons without CL football what would happen to the debt related to the clubs earnings".

GG} "The debt wouldn’t go up we have enough cash flow to pay the minimum interest that we have which is not very high and enough to give to Rafa to be competitive".

MC} "That where we are at loggerheads with your idea of capital for Rafa and ours".

GG} "Arsenal by law can’t spend as much per year as we spend. Man U can’t out spend us. Based on UTD and Arsenal do you think we under spend".

MC} "Looking at this years transfers yes. What happened to the £30m from the Xabi Alonso sale"?

GG} "We put that back in, we didn’t take it out, we didn’t do like Man U did. They took all the money they got from player sales and they owed so much money they had to use it to pay down the debt. We didn’t do that. In keeping with the history of the club we have invested more money than our competitors, which should mean it should be getting better. If its not getting better it’s not because of Gillett and Hicks, it’s the manager it the scouting and so forth. So make sure you guys balance out your analysis.

MC} "Us as Liverpool fans were use to seeing a policy of money recouped on player sales being reinvested back into the squad".

GG} Rafa had the money from Xabi plus another £22-£23m and all the money that came plus the money budgeted was made available to Rafa".

GG denied that there was a £20m price cap for player signings and said

GG} "Rafa had more than was in the budget and the money from the sales. Hicks and I didn’t take any money out or use it to pay down debt.

We then talked about the stadium and the sixty day quote. GG denied it was him who made the spades in the ground in sixty days quote and went on to say.

GG} "Any comments on the stadium came from hicks. I think what happened was Hicks was absolutely convinced that we were going to start to move dirt to make for the foundations. In the period of time between Hicks saying that and the sixty day , the entire world credit market fell apart and I believe that he ended up with big egg on his face, making it look like he’d said something and then not living up to what he’d said and that was a mistake on his part".

MC} "It’s our belief that one of the main selling issues for David Moores was that you were going to build a stadium. We should be on a par with Barca and Real Madrid. All the 2005 CL success had not been built o

GG } "Do you think GG doesn’t want to build a stadium".

MC } "It wouldn’t be the first time that Tom Hicks has been involved with a football club, promised them a new stadium and it never happened".

George Gillett pauses.

MC } "Corinthians"

I reminded GG again about Tom Hicks past dealings with Corinthians.

GG} "Michael that’s not George Gillett. I own 50% of the club and nothing is going to happen to the club good or bad that ultimately Tom or I don’t take credit for".

GG then asked me.

GG} "Did I believe after our conversation if I thought he wouldn’t love to build a new stadium"

MC } "I’m curious as to why with the wealth that you and Hicks have got they cant come together and start to build the stadium out of their own capital".

GG } "That’s a totally different issue and I’m not going to go there"

MC} "Why not build the stadium with your own money and get it back from the extra money it generates".

GG} "What’s symbolic about the stadium".

MC} "We need the new stadium George, we are falling behind

George losses his temper and raises his voice.

GG} "We are not falling behind that’s horseshit. If we could figure out how to build a stadium I would have done it yesterday".

MC} "I’ve just told you how you can do it. You and Hicks could use your own capital"

GG} "Michael that’s not what we’re going to do".

MC} "Why".

GG} "Because that’s not the way smart investment occurs".

MC} "Well why not, you have the money why not do it".

GG } "Abramavic he didn’t use his own money he used borrowed money".

MC} "Your saying that Abramovic didn’t use his own money to buy Chelsea and bankroll the squad".

GG } "There’s a difference between lateral wealth and personal wealth".

MC } "Where did he get the money from then".

GG } "From his banks in Russia".

I then asked GG about his and Hicks reported and what seemed frivolous expenses claims and used the reported £1m as a ballpark figure.

GG} "We don’t charge or take salaries from the club. We charge the club for our travel expenses for our travel expenses and our legal fees"

GG seemed surprised at the amounts of money that had been reported.

MC} "Surely you must have a press officer who reports back to you what is being said about you in the British press"

GG} "What’s being reported about me".

MC} "About your expenses claims".

GG} "All expenses was for legitimate reasons, legal people, auditors etc. Hicks put his bill directly through the club. I ran mine through my own accountant, used my own money and I was reimbursed for legal and accounting fees. There was no money taken by me. I have never taken a cent from this club, I get no salaries no compensation, the money that I got reimbursed was money that I paid out because of the way we do it is actually for the benefit of the club. The club didn’t reimburse me for over a year after I ran up the expenses, and then a year later reimbursed me for the expenses. That’s for the benefit of the club not for the detriment of it.

MC] "Its all about what’s believable George and the facts are.

GG} "The one fact that you’ve levelled at me today was that, Tom Hicks promised a spade in the ground in sixty days and it hasn’t happened. It’s the one fact that you’ve laid out. The free cash flow the amount of money reinvested in the players, every one of the other facts that you’ve raised that primarily came from the media was wrong".

MC} "I suggest to you George that you keep a closer eye on what’s being reported in the British media and rather than a wall of silence, respond to things because we are being drip fed information, rumour and Chinese whispers. Whether you decide to act upon that is totally up to yourself but, us as Liverpool supporters do not see the club moving in the right direction".

Frank McParland enters the room

GG} "Michael is involved with a group called SOS. This has been a dumping on me of vitriol of hatred of suspicion of calling me a liar on half dozen different comments. The one I plead guilty to is that I have a partner who promised put a spade in the ground in sixty days in the midst of the credit market and the stadium hasn’t and the stadium hasn’t been built. That’s the one thing, there’s no way I can deny that. That was said and it was fact, but with regard to the rest of the things, he and his group have gotten very angry at Tom and I because of things reported in the media that were inaccurate. For example he was just charging me that I had taken money out the club. The fact is that I take nothing out the club other than being reimbursed for accounting fees.

MC} I don’t think I charged you with taking money out the club".

I repeated to FMc the issue about the concerns about the money from the sale of Xabi Alonso and that the money recouped from his sale went towards paying off debt.

GG} "The only pay down came from Hicks and I pocket. We put £128m in the last eighteen months to buy players on top of the money that came from the club not. The reason I'm upset is that he (mc) just said I have no more confidence and fundamentally I don’t believe you and all I can do is tell him the facts and he’s recommended I think correctly that there’s no wall of silence that the information is being drip fed to the media and we should make the facts more available".

FMc "One thing about SOS is that their mad passionate Liverpool supporters like we all are and they’ll always speak from the heart and if they know the situation and you tell them the situation they’ll take that on and I know that. Its all about us isn’t it".

MC} "It’s about LFC George. When you quote Chelsea, Man U and Arsenal, as I said the only time I worry about them is when we are playing them, as clubs the can crash and burn I’m worried about LFC"

GG} "We are putting more money in than they are and we are not getting credit for it from SOS because all they care about is Liverpool. On the other hand the same media they quote are criticising us for not being competitive with the other teams.

Frank McParland went on to say that he was 100% behind Rafa and that every time he’d asked for something for the academy it had been provided and he and GG used the AstroTurf pitch as an example.

MC} "The academy and Melwood is fine we are worried Anfield and the progression of the club on the basis that the club progresses from the success of the first team onwards. So as a group and as Liverpool supporters that’s what we are worried about.

I repeated to FMc that one of the biggest selling factors of the club from DM to H+G was the stadium.

MC} "A lot of this is based around the stadium. I personally and not speaking for SOS believe that personally that could move this situation forward is if we seen progress on the stadium and we seen a way forward and lets start competing with Barca and Madrid. The stadium is one of the biggest issues George".

GG}"Let’s focus on one set of challenges. When I was in Spain the other day to try and understand the economics of those clubs. The way they survive is that every five years the government writes off their debt. They’ve spent crazily this is now the third cycle of what’s happening. That’s not going to happen here and its not going to happen to any other EPL".

As time was running short I ended the meeting by saying.

MC} "At the minute we have people from around the globe banging on the doors to watch Liverpool. If the club had a sustained run of poor results and went without success that the glory hunters would soon go and the support the next successful club and that that G+H would be glad of the bread and butter supporters like my self and SOS.

I have done my best to relate all of what was said between my self and George Gillett. If I have missed anything out it is because I have either forgotten or it was just things that have already been said.

Many thanks to 'The Liverpool Way' and 'Dougie Do'ins' for the transcript.

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