Liverpool were "on the brink" and could have gone bust under Hicks and Gillett
Published 22:30 11/10/11 By David Maddock
Liverpool's top brass have admitted for the first time the club could have gone bust.
This week marks the first anniversary of the takeover at Anfield by Fenway Sports group, that finally released the club from the grasp of Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
And speaking about those momentous times, which saw an historic battle in the high court, MD Ian Ayre has revealed the extent of the danger to their very existence that Liverpool faced.
The club, he says, was "on the brink", and could so easily have gone under because of the massive mountain of debt the previous owners had piled on.
"Certainly the bank had the power to call in the debt and at the time there wasn't anyone ready to take on that debt. So I guess the answer to that is yes, the club could have gone into administration," he confessed.
"Based on where we were and based on the circumstances at the time that was a very real threat. It's not what anyone wanted. It wouldn't have been a better solution than where we ended up but it was a very real threat.
"That was the case in the final hours. That was one of the other routes we could have gone down."
It seems an incredible admission that a club the size of Liverpool, with a global reach matched only by the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid, could have arrived at such a position.
But estimates of the complicated debt structure Hicks and Gillett had placed on the club suggested that Liverpool owed anything up to £450million... with that figure rising on an almost daily basis.
Eventually, the court case, driven by the club's principal creditor the RBS, snatched Liverpool back from the American duo just before disaster struck, but in his assessment of the turbulent past 12 months, Ayre makes no bones about the precarious position such a massive club found itself in.
"There are lessons to be learnt for all football clubs, because we really were on the edge," Ayre revealed.
"What you had was a domino effect of things. Debt was going up and the cost of servicing the debt was beyond what we felt was reasonable.
"Obviously we had a very negative reaction from the fan base which was starting to hurt the commercial revenue. The debt servicing became even harder because the revenues became smaller. If you can't invest in the team, as we've seen the fall out is no European football etc.
"I don't think I've ever really wanted to dare to dream where we would have got to but it didn't look good and that was reason why Martin, Christian and myself and the others involved felt we had to find the right solution. There was no preconceived idea of who that was, just the right solution to solve all those problems."
While the depth of Liverpool's disaster has only just been truly revealed, Ayre is confident the worst is now behind the club, and the good days are about to return under careful new owners.
"It was a disaster that we have recovered from. We are now where we should be and heading in a better direction and in a better shape and set up as a business to perform and deliver," he insisted.
"If you really think where we were 12 months ago, it couldn't be more different. We've managed to get it back that quickly, when it could have had a lot more lasting damage - where we are today, I don't think we could even hoped to be this far ahead 12 months ago."