Duncan Oldham knew nothing about the Martin Broughton and BarCap developments until the news had been announced in the national press, as will be proven later in this article.
But, as ever, he wasn’t going to let that stop him pretending to have his finger on the pulse. So he put out this bewildering report on KopTalk, which read like something from a tabloid horoscope column:
11/04/2010 07:43 PM Hicks and Gillett finally ready to quit Liverpool for good
KOPTALK sources recently told our VIP members that the forthcoming week would be of particular interest and singled out the 17th as a key date. It would appear that they were accurate even though the information supplied was not specific.
While the media claim that there is strong interest from various parts of the globe, we’re led to believe that most of these claims are complete nonsense and that nobody has brought anything serious to the table since the global financial crisis kicked in.
This is the post that Dunk was referring to:
31/03/2010 08:27 AM An update
April 17 is an important date for the future of Liverpool Football Club.
Yes, Dunk really was trying to present that as a triumph for KopTalk.
Two points need to made here. Firstly, the only place the 17th was an important date was in Oldham’s feverish imagination. News of Gillett and Hicks stepping down from the board, and of Broughton’s appointment, broke on April 9th. BarCap’s involvement was first reported on April 10th. The club’s official announcement about Broughton came on April 16th. So, as hopelessly vague as Oldham/The_Informer was, he still got it wrong.
Secondly, it was widely reported in January 2009 that a Kuwaiti group had come within minutes of signing a deal to buy the club during the summer of 2008 – in the midst of the global financial crisis. Take this report from The Guardian, for example:
“Nasser al-Kharafi, the Kuwaiti billionaire… approached the Americans last year with a view to sealing a £600m purchase of the Anfield club. But, with contracts all but signed, Kharafi inexplicably pulled out of the negotiations. Hicks is said by one close observer to have been “incandescent” at the failure to close the deal last summer.”
Oldham hadn’t just shown that he has no “insider” contacts within the club – he’d also demonstrated that he knows less than your average fan who reads the papers.
Dunk had never mentioned Broughton’s name on KopTalk before The Telegraph broke the story in this article on the morning of April 9th:
Published: 7:00AM BST 09 Apr 2010
Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett consider stepping aside
Liverpool co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are considering appointing an independent chairman at Anfield and have sounded out leading business figures, including British Airways chairman Martin Broughton, about taking on the role, Telegraph Sport can disclose.
Hicks and Gillett co-chair the Liverpool board but are considering stepping aside in favour of a well-respected independent figure. Such a move would make sense if they were successful in finding a minority investor to help reduce the £237 million debt, but it is understood they will consider standing down even if they do not sell a stake in the club.
While they would still remain in control of Liverpool, a figure of the stature of Broughton would increase their appeal to potential investors and draw some of the sting from criticism of the Americans’ stewardship of the club.
Hicks and Gillett arrived in London on Tuesday and have held talks with advisers, including respected City lawyers Freshfields Bruckhaus, before travelling to Anfield for the Europa League tie against Benfica.
The discussions are taking place ahead of the looming summer deadline for the owners to re-finance Liverpool’s £237 million debts with banks RBS and Wachovia. RBS, the principal lender, has requested that the owners reduce the debt by £100 million ahead of the June 31 deadline.
More than five hours later, Dunk posted this rehash of that Telegraph report:
09/04/10 12:10 PM Tom Hicks and George Gillett consider standing down
Tom Hicks and George Gillett are considering standing down at Anfield and appointing an independent chairman to oversee the running of the club.
The co-owners have been advised to stand aside because of the bad feelings from supporters. The move would be seen as more beneficial to finding a new investor as protests by groups such as Spirit Of Shankly are considered unhelpful by club insiders who want to oust Hicks and Gillett.
Before attending last night’s Europa League tie against Benfica, the duo were in London to meet advisers and representatives from respected City lawyers Freshfields Bruckhaus.
Managing Director Christian Purslow is still trying to find an investor ahead of the July 31st deadline set by the Royal Bank of Scotland. RBS want to see the club’s debt reduced by £100million before that date.
British Airways chairman Martin Broughton has already been linked with the position.
The news of BarCap’s involvement didn’t break until this Sky News article appeared the next day.
April 10, 2010 6:49 PM
Tom Hicks and George Gillett are on the verge of appointing Barclays Capital, the investment bank, to handle a sale process that will begin shortly by inviting new offers for the club.
“This is almost certain to be an exit process,” a person close to the situation told me tonight. Notwithstanding that, Hicks and Gillett have no intention of selling on the cheap and will rebuff offers for the club that they believe fail to reflect its value. Equally, they may decide to sell only a minority stake if that offers the best immediate value available to them.
To provide reassurance for potential buyers that the auction is a genuine attempt to sell the club, Martin Broughton, the chairman of British Airways, will be confirmed as Liverpool’s chairman in the early part of next week. His appointment, which is not quite certain yet but which is overwhelmingly likely, will mean Hicks and Gillett stepping down as co-chairmen.
He would seem to be a well-suited candidate for such a role, given his deep personal interest in sport (he’s a keen Chelsea fan and a former chairman of the British Horseracing Board) and his experience of handling challenging corporate situations.
Rhone Capital, a US private equity firm, did table a proposal several weeks ago that would have seen it acquire a minority equity stake (that would have included management control) in Liverpool for about £100m. Hicks and Gillett were not keen on the idea, and the offer has now lapsed.
As with so many big stories, the news of Broughton’s appointment first appeared on KopTalk via a member who had been watching Sky Sports News:
10/04/10 07:11 PM New chairman!!!!!
SSN reporting now that Martin Broughton will be installed as chairman early next week…
10/04/10 07:52 PM Re: New chairman!!!!! [Re: kingofkop]
A die hard Chelsea fan
By then, Oldham had read the Sky News report about Barclays Capital. He decided to reword it, and add in some information from this BBC article that had appeared the previous day:
Dan Roan | 14:05 UK time, Friday, 9 April 2010
Broughton has previously chaired the British Horseracing Board, but given the problems BA are currently facing – and the fact he is a passionate, lifelong Chelsea fan – it is unclear whether he would want the role.
One City insider told me: “An appointment like this would be purely cosmetic. Broughton is a serious business heavyweight but it will not help Liverpool find new money. Their problems remain, and the owners are playing a dangerous game with time running out.”
Four days ago, Hicks and Gillett rejected a £100m offer for a 40% stake in the club by the Rhone Group, to the dismay of manager Rafa Benitez, who had even gone to the trouble of meeting with the investment group’s representatives himself.
Interestingly, well-placed sources close to the New York-based company insist the deal is now dead and no longer on the table, while the club suggests privately that it may still be alive and simply the beginning of a process of bargaining.
The result was the following KopTalk report:
10/04/10 07:43 PM Hicks and Gillett finally ready to quit Liverpool for good
George Gillett and Tom Hicks have finally opted to cash in and sell Liverpool Football Club.
The Liverpool FC co-owners have been fighting to hold onto the club by trying to only sell a percentage of the club but they are now ready to pull completely out of Anfield.
Investment bank Barclays Capital are to be instructed to find new buyers and British Airways chairman Martin Broughton – a Chelsea fan – should be appointed as the club’s new chairman next week.
Gillett and Hicks have been advised to appoint an independent chairman because it is claimed that potential investors are cautious about investing when they see fans protesting militant style at the duo when in town.
Neither man will agree to sell the club on the cheap and that has frightened off numerous parties in the past. But if they can pull off some kind of minor investment that would still leave them in power they would still consider staying.
However this is the first time that both men have actually considered a realistic departure and they will have to dramatically reduce their previous valuations to secure a complete buyout.
One City insider is quoted as saying: “An appointment like this would be purely cosmetic. Broughton is a serious business heavyweight but it will not help Liverpool find new money.
“Their problems remain, and the owners are playing a dangerous game with time running out.”
Another is quoted as saying: “This is almost certain to be an exit process.”
The Rhone Group’s recent offer has expired and sources in New York claim they won’t return. This could be why the duo are starting to bottle it with the Royal Bank of Scotland demanding that the club’s debts be reduced by at least £100million by the end of July.
Those who have been turned away by the owners before will be re-invited to submit new offers and new interest will of course be followed up.
You can tell which bits Dunk added in himself, as they read like they were written by a four-year-old.
A few days later, Oldham finally had the decency to admit he didn’t have the faintest idea what was going on in the investment saga:
16/04/10 12:58 AM Re: Andy Lynch & Yahya Kirdi [Re: kopstar]
I know nothing about these recent parties. We should hear about Andy Lynch over next few days though. The others seem suspicious i.e. fake.
16/04/10 12:26 PM Broughton very, very confident of a sale
He’s very, very confident of a quick sale and that a potential buyer i.e. serious, is already at the table. No idea who.