From AP REPORTS
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) – Liverpool's American owners are facing a new takeover bid — from frustrated fans.
The longshot member-share scheme, set to be launched Thursday, aims to raise an estimated $1 billion to oust Tom Hicks of Dallas and George Gillett Jr. of Vail, Colo., and fund a new stadium.
UAE-based group Dubai International Capital recently failed in a renewed bid to purchase the Premier League club after losing out to Hicks and Gillett last March.
Inspired by the FC Barcelona model, the group — Share Liverpool FC — will appeal for 100,000 fans to each contribute up to $10,000.
Soccer academic Rogan Taylor, spearheading the initiative, views it as an important step to rescue Liverpool, which has been plunged into uncertainty this season.
Rafa Benitez's side slumped to seventh in the Premier League standings on Wednesday — 17 points behind leader Manchester United — with a 1-0 defeat at West Ham. While sealing one of the four Champions League berths is a priority, seventh place even falls outside of the UEFA Cup qualification spots.
To help fund Anfield stadium's replacement in nearby Stanley Park and refinance the loan used to purchase the Reds, Hicks and Gillett last week completed a $682 million refinancing package.
But the package leaves the 18-time English champion with debt topping $205 million.
Coupled with Hicks' admission that he approached Juergen Klinsmann as a potential replacement for popular manager Rafa Benitez, Taylor believes soaring anger should generate widespread interest in his shareholder initiative.
"Thousands of Liverpool fans have already demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs," Taylor said. "Large amounts of debt often devolves onto clubs newly purchased, but the fans know that in the end, it will be they themselves who will have to pay it off through increased ticket prices and other schemes.
"In such a case, why not simply buy the club yourselves?"
Taylor claims that the six Champions League winners in the past 15 years have been owned by "member fans."
In Spain, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna all are owned by the club members, an agreement which is established in the clubs' statutes.