Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has ruled out the possibility of agreeing to a quick sale of the Premier League club as he holds out for a substantial profit on his investment. Hicks and fellow owner George Gillett came under fire from former Reds owner David Moores this week as he criticised their in-fighting, financial mismanagement and failure to back boss Rafael Benitez in the transfer market.
Liverpool fans have also made it clear through several protests that they want Hicks and Gillett to go as soon as possible after they ran up debts of over £300m. But Hicks, speaking to Sky Sports News, made it clear it could be as long as 18 months before a new owner is in place at Anfield as he values the club at £800m - a price which is over £300m more than he and Gillett bought Liverpool for from Moores three years ago.
"Since Moores's ownership in the last three years, with what we will spend this summer we will have more than doubled both the gross and net transfer spending on players," Hicks said. "We've tried to make Liverpool as professional a club as possible. The new stadium is fully designed now and the global financing markets are back, so with the change of ownership coming we will be able to have a new stadium built and we have a great board.
"We will sell the club. We are not going to sell it to the wrong group and we're not going to sell it for the wrong price. We are going to take our time, do it in a very thoughtful way and try to find the right steward to own Liverpool FC. We're hoping to sell before the end of the calendar year and we don't anticipate it will be done before the beginning of next season.
"I have said £600-£800m is not an unrealistic value range, but the market is the market and we'll see. We are more concerned about finding the right owner, someone who can make the investment, get the stadium built and help Liverpool be the best possible football club in the world."
With speculation growing that Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres may ask to leave Liverpool before next season due to the uncertainty over the club's future, Hicks moved to calm fans' fears that they will lose their two idols. "We have no intention of selling any of our top players and we have a substantial transfer budget in place," Hicks said. "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."