In Three Weeks' Time, Tom Hicks Might No Longer Control Liverpool FC

Well, this is quite the surprise: Turns out Tom Hicks may be out as majority co-owner of Liverpool FC before the deal's done to make Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan the keepers of Your Texas Rangers. Over the last few days, the story's been bending to the point of this morning's breaking news that he's got 20 days to make a deal or else.

First, the back story: New York-based Rhone Group has been offering to take 40 percent of the club for a lousy £100-million investment -- the exact same figure Hicks and co-owner George Gillett owe the Royal Bank of Scotland. And, no, Rhone's principals are hardly soccer fans -- says this account, it's "just another business deal," which has Spirit of Shankly, the supporters union responsible for those billboards, more than a bit worried this is déjà vu all over again.

That £100-million payment would give Rhone 40-percent ownership in the club -- a controlling stake. That's despite the fact it's a far cry from the nearly $800-million offer Dubai International Capital tossed on the table two years ago, which Hicks rejected back when he could afford to reject $800 million.

Which brings us to this morning's news: Rhone has given Hicks and Gillett 20 days to accept the deal; after that, it's off the table. And, reports The Independent, the twosome just might have to take it: Originally, word was Hicks and Gillett had till July to pay down their debt to the Royal Bank of Scotland. Not so: RBS now wants at least some of that money by April 6. And with no other potential investors lined up, Rhone's the closest thing Hicks has to an Easter Bunny at this point.

And whilst we're on the subject of Sports Teams Tom Hicks Owns For Now: The Star-Telegram has uncovered how news of Ron Washington's positive test for cocaine leaked to Sports Illustrated. It was blackmail!

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky