Tom Hicks has given an interview in response to Rafa rejecting the terms of his contract offer.
What is your reaction to news that Rafa Benitez has rejected his contract offer?
As Rafa says, we have a strong working relationship and we’re united behind the team. We understand Rafa’s frustrations and we’re committed to working with him and his advisors to find a solution here. We’ll keep talking. I’m coming over for the Chelsea match and we’d already planned to get together on the 30th and 31st to talk over a number of issues. We’ll clear up anything that’s been talked about here and now we want to keep our focus on the pitch – we’ve got the derby coming up.
Do you understand where he’s coming from with regards to control over transfers?
Well, Rafa’s been frustrated for a long time now about the length of time it takes for certain things to happen, and I think he’s just trying to, you know, position himself to be able to do his job better. There are balances that need to be achieved in English football and we’ll work through these things.
He’s said in the past that he’s been frustrated with the time things take – does he have a point there?
Well, sure he does – but we can fix that, and we will.
Are the problems highlighted today fixable?
I’m absolutely comfortable in saying Rafa loves Liverpool and will be the manager.
How do you move on from this. You say you have a meeting at the end of the month – is that where these things will be thrashed out?
George and I will be working with the lawyers to get this resolved. I am just not worried about it at all.
How will this affect things on the pitch, because you’ve said in the past that you’re happy with how things are going on the pitch? Liverpool are going well, aren’t they? Will this affect that?
Oh, I hope not. That’s why Rafa’s advisors have wanted to slow things down and try to take attention away from this. They want to stay focused on the pitch.
So in terms of your relationship with Rafa, and George’s, how does that stand at the moment?
You know, I have had a great relationship with Rafa in this past year. We talk often and e-mail even more often. I have had a lot of fun watching him doing a great job this year and we’ve got a great relationship.
So to reiterate, do you feel as though the problems with the contract negotiations can be worked out?
I do – I certainly do. There are certainly no issues between Rafa and the owners in any way. There are issues he wants to work out to make things better for the club.
And as far as the season is going – how pleased are you?
Well, you can’t complain at being first. We’d have liked a couple more points last weekend but we’ve now got to worry about Everton on Monday.
What’s your message to any Liverpool fans out there?
They should relax – Rafa is going to be manager of Liverpool for the next five years and we’ll work through these little lawyer issues.