19 January 2008

Liverpool set for new buy-out bid

. . Sheikh Mohammed

By Phil McNulty Chief football writer (BBC News)

Dubai International Capital - the investment arm of the Dubai Government - is to launch a £500m bid to buy Liverpool Football Club.

BBC Sport understands the offer is in the process of being made to American co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks.
DIC was originally thought to be ready to make an offer for Hicks' 50% share, despite his insistence that he is unwilling to discuss a sale.
But DIC is now poised to make an offer for the complete buy-out of the pair.
DIC was close to buying the club in January 2007, but pulled out when Liverpool refused to agree to a deadline on the deal and moved into advanced negotiations with Hicks and Gillett.
But Gillett and Hicks' reign has caused turmoil on and off the pitch at Liverpool, and DIC has always maintained their interest despite the collape of the previous deal.
Gillett and Hicks are currently attempting to finalise terms on a £350m loan that would enable them to repay money borrowed for their £219m takeover, repay loans used to sign players, and enable them to start work on a re-scaled plan for a new stadium in Stanley Park.
DIC's offer will be made swiftly to present the American duo with a get-out clause before they take out the massive loan.
Hicks, in particular, is under pressure after being subjected to heavy criticism from fans following public disagreements with popular manager Rafael Benitez.
He has also come under fire for his public admission that talks had been held with Jurgen Klinsmann about possibly succeeding the Spaniard.
Liverpool fans will turn up the heat on Gillett and Hicks with an orchestrated protest at Monday night's game against Aston Villa.
Website Reclaim The Kop issued a statement claiming they were "not fit to be associated with our club" and banners criticising the Americans and calling on DIC to launch a bid were held aloft on The Kop during the FA Cup win against Luton.
Liverpool supporters are also concerned at how much of the £350m loan will be shifted on to the club's books - with crippling interest payments.
They will also have to fund the £300m stadium plan, with a decision expected soon after two new designs were studied by Gillett and Hicks, along with chief executive Rick Parry, in New York earlier this month.
A spokeman for the Americans said on Thursday: "Any suggestion Hicks and Gillett are contemplating a sale of the club or any portion of it is categorically untrue."
DIC backed away from a £150m price tag for a 15% stake in Liverpool last October, but the financial uncertainty surrounding the club has increased and there is hope a new offer will prove more tempting.

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