Liverpool up for sale — US owners


LIVERPOOL, England: Liverpool’s American 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, according to a club statement issued on Friday.Broughton has been brought in to supervise what Liverpool’s statement 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 pounds (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.

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

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

But on the field, 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.

“Owning Liverpool Football Club over these past three years has been a rewarding and exciting experience for us and our families,” Hicks and Gillett said in the statement.

“Having grown the club this far we have now decided together to look to sell the club to owners committed to take the club through its next level of growth and development.

“We are delighted Martin Broughton has agreed to take the position of chairman… Martin is a distinguished business leader of excellent judgment and with a great reputation.

“He is a genuine football supporter and will seek to oversee the sales process in the best interests of the club and its supporters.”

Broughton added: “I am excited and honoured to be taking up this position. Liverpool is a great club with a fantastic history. I will run this sale process in the right way, for the benefit of the club and its fans.”

A number of potential investors have already been linked with a move for the Anfield outfit and    former Syria international footballer 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.

“I’ve been to Anfield on business recently and I’m acting as the go-between in the whole deal. 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 Spanish boss Benitez “guaranteed” the five-times European champions would achieve earlier in the campaign.

Liverpool have not won a trophy since lifting the FA Cup in 2006. — AFP