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Saudis consider Liverpool offer

By Simon Austin

George Gillett and Prince Faisal
Prince Faisal (right) has been a recent guest of Gillett's at Anfield

Prince Faisal could bid for a major stake in Liverpool but has concerns about the club's debt and relationship between its owners, a key aide says.

Co-owner George Gillett will travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to hold further talks with the Saudi Royal.

"His Highness's shareholding could go from anything from nought to 100%," Barry Didato told BBC Sport.

"But he cannot be seen as a solution to the debt or problems in the existing relationship between the owners."

The relationship between Gillett and his co-owner Tom Hicks has been strained for some time.

Each has a 50% stake in the Premier League club, yet neither can sell shares without the other's approval.

His Highness is not a marriage counsellor

Barry Didato
Head of strategic investments, F6

Prince Faisal, whose full name is Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah al-Saud, has only been holding talks with Gillett so far.

And Didato - director of strategic investments for the Saudi prince's investment vehicle, F6 - said the pair had established a "chemistry and shared vision".

The fractious relationship between Liverpool's American co-owners is a concern, though.

"His Highness would not want to get involved in (the problems between the pair), he is not a marriage counsellor," Didato said.

He added that the Saudis has concerns about the high debt levels at the club.

"The debt has to be at a manageable level before Prince Faisal would invest and the current level is high," he said.

"He cannot be looked to as someone who is going to clean up the balance sheet - Gillett has to deal with this."

606: DEBATE

Didato said Prince Faisal was flexible about how big a stake he might take at Anfield.

"His Highness does not need to be a majority shareholder and a takeover has not been his focus," he said.

Last week Hicks and Gillett issued a statement in response to reports that Prince Faisal was ready to bid for a 50% stake in Liverpool.

The duo admitted they were looking to attract new investment to the club but added: "The process is at an early stage, there is no agreement with any party and reports to the contrary are wholly inaccurate."

F6 has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Liverpool which will lead to the creation of football academies in North Africa and the Middle East and the deal also covered the possible establishment of a Nascar franchise in the area.

Didato insisted Prince Faisal's involvement with Liverpool could only be a good thing for the club and its fans.

"His Highness is an extraordinary man who is passionate about football," he said. "He has a tremendous respect for Liverpool and their fan base.

"He only wants what is best for them and is one of those rare breeds of investor who is in it for the long haul."



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see also
Saudis confirm Liverpool interest
28 Sep 09 |  Business
Liverpool seeking new investors
29 Sep 09 |  Business
Lawrenson fears Liverpool decline
05 Jun 09 |  Liverpool
Fans revise Liverpool buy-out bid
24 Jul 09 |  Liverpool
Final whistle for Liverpool's loans?
05 Jun 09 |  Business


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