Thursday, 8 October 2009

Could Gillett be on the verge of selling 50% stake in LFC?

A key aide to Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah al-Saud, has again indicated that the Saudi Arabian prince could bid for a major stake in Liverpool, but has concerns about the club's debt and relationship between the owners.

Recent rumours have suggested that co-owner George Gillett is on the verge of selling his stake in the club after the prince's investment company 'F6' struck a deal to establish a number of LFC football academies in Saudi Arabia.

Gillett will travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to hold further talks with the Saudi Royal reports BBC Sport. Barry Didato, head of strategic investments for 'F6' said:

"His Highness's shareholding could go from anything from nought to 100%."

"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 not been harmonious. Each has a 50% stake in the club, yet neither can sell shares without the other's approval.

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

"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."

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

"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."

The prince, who attended Liverpool's demolition of Hull City recently claimed that he was close to purchasing a 50 per cent stake in the club. Speaking to Middle Eastern newspaper 'Al Riyadh', he said: "The deal will be concluded soon and its value will be between £200m and £350m."

However LFC were quick to deny any deal was in place stating: "there is no agreement with any party and reports to the contrary are wholly inaccurate."

Didato has expressed similar words recently about Prince Faisal's interest in the Reds and clearly the Saudi Arabian is eager to invest in the club partially or as a whole. Reported on this site last week, the head of strategic investments stated: "His Highness is open to anything and is open to being a minority shareholder, but he has tremendous favourability towards the brand and institution of Liverpool."

Today's Mirror appears convinced Gillett is on the verge of a sale, stating the co-owner: "is due to arrive in the Middle East on Wednesday and is scheduled for a three-day stay to sort out the deal with the Prince's advisers and his financial company F6 Sports." The story also says:

"a sale is top of the agenda to be done rather than just an investment," and adds, sources in the Middle East are: "convinced that this will happen."

The departure of Gillett would certainly be welcomed by Reds fans who have consistently protested against the co-owners following a series of promises that have never been kept. Gillett recently made a series of outlandish claims during the impromptu interview with a Reds fan whilst giving a tour of the Liverpool training Academy to Prince Faisal. The American claimed Arsenal and Man Utd could not outspend LFC and also denied he'd ever proclaimed 'shovels would be in the ground within 60 days', when speaking about the new stadium on Stanley Park. Luckily his statement was filmed by the countries media.

Possibly the prince's interest for the club could offer an escape route for Gillett and the clubs long suffering fans.

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