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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Liverpool in talks with investors
Liverpool players
Liverpool have been seeking new investment
Liverpool Football Club has said it is in talks that could lead to a takeover offer for the European champions.

In a statement, the club said that it was in "continuing discussions with a number of parties regarding a potential investment of new funds".

Liverpool added that such an investment "may include an offer for the entire share capital of the club".

The club's advisers said chairman David Moores might sell some of his majority stake for the right level of funds.

The club said that it was in talks with a shortlist of fewer than 10 possible investors.

The Reuters news agency cited an unnamed source close to the situation as saying that Liverpool's board expected a share valuation of about 200m ($348.5m).

Spanish link

But chief executive Rick Parry has tried to play down rumours of an imminent takeover, saying that the statement was released in order to confirm that the club had been talking with Spanish tycoon Juan Villalonga.

"Due to the reports over the weekend, we are obliged to make a statement and write to shareholders," Mr Parry told the Liverpool Echo.

"It's a formality, but there has been no change to the situation."

Mr Villalonga has been linked with the club in recent days.

The board wants new investment into the club. If that means the chairman selling some of his stake, he would consider it
PricewaterhouseCoopers (Liverpool's advisers)

A former president of Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, he received a reported 14m payoff when he left the firm last year.

Recent reports have suggested that Mr Villalonga could head a consortium looking to pump money into Liverpool.

The club has been seeking additional investment for some time.

It is looking to fund a 170m ground move and is also keen to raise cash to help it bring in new players and take on the financial power of Chelsea and Manchester United.

"It has been well-known that Liverpool has been after someone to come in with a cash injection over the past two or three years," Rogan Taylor, director of the Football Industry Group at Liverpool University, told the BBC.

"When you consider that Manchester United is making up to 3m more in match revenues per game than Liverpool, and when you multiply that by 17 games, then it shows how far behind Liverpool is falling in that source of income.

"The club has to move forward. Perhaps it is time to create the biggest fans' trust in the world and let the supporters take over."

Search for funds

In the past couple of years, local building magnate Steve Morgan has failed in his bid to buy into the club, and in 2004 reports that Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was looking to buy a stake in Liverpool came to nothing.

The club has also been linked with US billionaire Robert Kraft. Last November, Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry held talks with Mr Kraft, who owns the New England Patriots NFL team.

Whoever comes in has to come up with a good stadium plan
Dan Jones, Deloitte Football Money League

Liverpool's advisers, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), said chairman David Moores might be persuaded to sell some of his controlling 51.5% stake in the club if the right level of investment was made available.

"First and foremost, the board wants new investment into the club. If that means the chairman selling some of his stake, he would consider it," a PwC spokesman told Reuters.

"I don't think he would sell his entire stake - it would depend on the amount of new money, the [share] price and [ownership] structure, and who the parties were."

In February, the latest survey from Deloitte of the world's biggest football clubs found that Liverpool had the eighth largest income in the 2004/5 season, taking in 122.4m.

Anfield stadium
Liverpool FC is keen to move to a bigger stadium

Dan Jones is the author of the annual Deloitte Football Money League, which each year records the income of the world's richest clubs.

"Anfield stadium, with its current capacity, is holding them back in the same way that Highbury has been holding back Arsenal," he said.

"Whoever comes in has to come up with a good stadium plan."

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