Gillett called "ruthless"
Vail CO, Colorado
LONDON ” Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher called the Premier League club’s owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr., “ruthless” and accused them of breaking promises and profiteering.
In his autobiography to be published Thursday, Carragher does express sympathy with the Americans in saying manager Rafa Benitez publicly undermined them over transfers, but gives a largely critical assessment of a year of turmoil.
The 30-year-old Carragher, who has been with Liverpool since he was a youth player in 1994, hesitantly embraced the Americans at the time of their March 2007 takeover, when they pledged to invest in the team and replace crumbling Anfield stadium without burdening the Reds with debt.
But the stadium remains on hold. and Carragher said he became disgruntled over infighting that triggered “the demise of those values which come under the definition ‘The Liverpool Way.'”
“For richer or poorer, we’d sold Liverpool to two ruthless businessmen who saw us as a moneymaking opportunity,” Carragher writes in “Carra: My Autobiography,” published by Bantam Press. “They didn’t buy Liverpool as an act of charity; they weren’t intent on throwing away all the millions they’d earned over 50 years … They wanted to buy us because the planned stadium offered a chance to generate tons of cash and increase the value of the club.”
Hicks didn’t respond to a request for comment. He also owns baseball’s Texas Rangers and the NHL’s Dallas Stars.
Carragher said the owners’ worst mistake was claiming no debt would be put on the club’s balance sheet when in fact the loans used to buy the five-time European champion created annual interest payments of around $50 million.
“Breaking this vow set the first alarm bells ringing. The embarrassing continual changing of the stadium plans was irritating too,” he wrote.
Carragher said internal strife swelled in the aftermath of the May 2007 Champions League final defeat to AC Milan, when Benitez demanded that Hicks and Gillett quickly invest more money in the squad.
“These words sparked a chain reaction that brought problems into the open, almost cost (Benitez) his job a couple of months later, riled Liverpool’s owners into an ill-fated meeting with Juergen Klinsmann, and ended Hicks’ and Gillett’s honeymoon relationship with The Kop (fan base),” Carragher wrote.
“I understood why the owners were unhappy with him too,” he wrote. “They’d been undermined by Rafa and now they were undermining him. “It was a political rather than football battle, and although the fans wanted to see it in black-and-white terms, with the owners the bad guys and Rafa their hero, I saw far more shades of gray.”