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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 January 2008, 10:07 GMT
Liverpool braced for takeover bid
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

Liverpool
Dubai International Capital - the investment arm of the Dubai Government - is ready to table a new 350m bid to buy Liverpool Football Club.

BBC Sport understands DIC has drawn up plans to take control from American duo George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

But the deal is subject to conditions which Gillett and Hicks are currently unwilling to meet.

DIC was originally thought to be ready to make an offer for Hicks' 50% share, but now favours a total buy-out.

606: DEBATE
Red Sam 2008

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.

The interest has now been seriously revived, but DIC is insistent it will not pay over the odds to buy the club, and until Gillett and Hicks agree to certain terms contained within the deal, an impasse has been reached.

Joe McLean, who is a football finance expert with accountants Grant Thornton, told BBC Radio Five Live: "The talk at the moment is that there will be some hard bargaining going on and it may take a few weeks before it is resolved."

DIC has put together a package of around 350m to put to Gillett and Hicks, which also includes taking on the debts incurred by the pair when they took control in March last year.

Gillett and Hicks' reign has caused turmoil on and off the pitch at Liverpool, and DIC has always maintained a close eye on Liverpool's situation, despite the collapse of the previous deal.

The Americans are currently attempting to finalise terms on a 350m loan that would enable them to repay money borrowed for their 218.9m 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 hopes the offer would present the American duo with a get-out clause before they take out the massive loan.

McLean believes that bankers could try to encourage that to happen and he says that even if Gillett and Hicks do strike a refinancing deal, it would only be a prelude to them selling the club.

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 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 spokesman 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.



SEE ALSO
Liverpool owners deny sale claims
17 Jan 08 |  Liverpool
Consortium pulls out of Reds bid
31 Jan 07 |  Liverpool


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