The US owners of Liverpool Football Club have completed its long-awaited refinancing, securing a £350m loan from Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia.
The deal follows a period of uncertainty for the club, which has seen fans turn against Tom Hicks and George Gillett less than a year after they completed their £219m takeover.
Talk of a split between the US owners intensified when Mr Hicks made remarks which appeared to put the position of Rafael Benitez, the manager, in jeopardy. It also emerged that Dubai International Capital, the investment arm of the UAE royal family, was positioning itself to buy all or part of the shareholding in the event of the refinancing deal falling apart.
DIC was in the frame to buy the club last year until the Hicks/Gillett consortium stepped in at the 11th hour.
Mr Hicks said the refinancing deal was “a strong vote of confidence in the club’s financial strength” and recognised the potential of the new stadium at Stanley Park.
“The successful completion of this financing package is particularly significant in light of the currently challenging credit market environment. With the refinancing process now done, club supporters can look forward to the timely commencement of construction work on the new stadium and renew their focus on actions on the pitch,” he added
The consortium borrowed £298m to purchase the club. The new package will add debt of about £105m, which will be used to fund the start of construction of the new stadium, player transfers and working capital needs.
The package will need to be refinanced again in 18 months’ time, according to a person close to the club. The remaining £245m will go on to Kop Football, the holding company for Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett, to refinance the £60m of debt on Liverpool’s books when the club was bought last year. About £60m will fund start-up costs for the stadium.
Liverpool fans voiced their displeasure at the US duo at Monday night’s home league game against Aston Villa. However, in the Kop Football statement, Mr Hicks said the manager “has been assured that he has continuing and enthusiastic support”.
Alongside the refinancing announcement was the appointment of Dallas-based HKS as architects of the stadium, which is scheduled to open in August 2011. It will cost £300m to build.
Get alerts on Travel & leisure industry when a new story is published