Sat, Apr 17, 2010 - Page 20 News List

US owners put Liverpool up for sale

AFP , LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND

Liverpool’s US co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett said British Airways chief Martin Broughton had been appointed chairman to oversee the sale of the Premier League side, a club statement issued yesterday said.

Broughton has been brought in to supervise what Liverpool’s statement said was a “formal sale process.”

Liverpool added they had engaged merchant Barclays Capital to advise on the sale “following numerous expressions of interest” from third parties, with some analysts reportedly valuing the club at £500 million (US$772 million).

Hicks and Gillett have owned Liverpool for the past three years, but their time in charge has been marked by disputes between the pair over the direction of the club.

The duo have been heavily criticized by supporters for loading the Merseysiders with a debt of a reported £237 million, which fans say has restricted manager Rafael Benitez’s room for maneuvre in the transfer market.

Liverpool’s statement made much of how the club’s current commercial team had, since 2007, increased revenue by 55 percent, boosted commercial revenues by 83 percent and extended operating profit (before player trading and exceptionals) by 60 percent.

On the field, however, Liverpool, who last won the English title in 1990, have seen arch rivals Manchester United continue to dominate the Premier League, while plans to move the club from its Anfield home into a new state of the art ground have stalled.

A number of potential investors have already been linked with a move for the Anfield outfit and former Syria international player Yahya Kirdi is the first to go public on his interest, claiming he is in advanced talks to buy the club.

Former Celtic player Andy Lynch has been brought in by Kirdi to act as a go-between in the deal.

“Talks are on-going with Tom Hicks and George Gillett and are at an advanced stage,” Lynch told the Daily Mirror. “The planned buy-out will have massive implications for Liverpool. Liverpool aren’t the force they were, so this is just what they need ... Hopefully, it’s not too much longer before it’s all done and dusted.”

The Reds are currently sixth in the Premier League table, six points behind the fourth place they need to qualify for next season’s lucrative Champions League — a target boss Benitez “guaranteed” the five-times European champions would achieve earlier in the campaign.

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