Liverpool fans getting a dose of Terrible Tom

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY, News-Telegram Sports Editor

Jan. 25, 2008 - Those poor, naive Londoners. A year ago, they thought Tom Hicks was coming to save the day. Now, they are learning the truth.

Hicks, along with fellow fat cat George Gillett Jr., last year bought the Liverpool soccer team which plays in the Premier League. Since then, the team has fallen into disrepair, there are cries from the fandom that Hicks refuses to spend money on his roster, and now there are plans to build a palatial new stadium.

Does any of this sound familiar? It's deja vu for Texas Ranger fans - what's left of them, anyway.

Meanwhile, Liverpool fans are choking on their tea and crumpets, Guv'nor.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Hicks - an Ugly American, to use a European term - was trying to work out a deal to sell his stake in the club to Dubai International Capital, the company he and Gillett out-bid to buy the Liverpool team last March.

I was hoping Hicks would throw in the Rangers, too, and make it a two-for-one deal. Foreign owners would have to know as much about baseball as Terrible Tom.

Instead of selling his share, though, Hicks and Gillett secured financing to build a $800 million stadium that will open in August 2011. I'm sure Arlington voters are loving Hicks for that after they raised their property taxes to build him his Palace in Arlington.

Ranger fans have to laugh at Hicks' statement about the new Liverpool stadium, ‘‘Liverpool supporters should have high expectations for the future: a premier sporting experience at their new stadium at Stanley Park and a winning Club on the pitch for years to come."

Here's what they will get instead - higher ticket prices, lower payroll and a bumbling owner whose incompetence is surpassed only by his arrogance.

Ranger fans know this for a fact. After another losing season, Hicks jacked up ticket prices again for the coming year. Meanwhile, the Rangers had the 27th-lowest payroll in the major leagues last year.

That money has to go somewhere. If you guessed Terrible Tom's back pocket, you got it right.

There's nothing wrong with a pro sports franchise owner making money - it's what keeps the leagues in business. But, for Hicks to pad his bank account year after year while fielding a minor-league level team is inexcusable.

Liverpool fans will find that out the hard way.

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