Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Liverpool Have 10 Days To Decide

Liverpool have 10 days to decide on the offer from Kenny Huang to buy the club's debt.

And if they have not given an answer by then, the Chinese billionaire will walk away.

Huang, head of Hong Kong-based investment company QSL Sports Ltd, wants to take over the £237million RBS loan handed to the unpopular American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Liverpool themselves are treating him as a serious bidder and chairman Martin Broughton - the BA supremo brought in to sell the club - has opened talks with Huang's group.

Huang is adamant he will make hefty funds available to bring in world-class players and tempt stars such as Fernando Torres into staying at Anfield.

But he has insisted on an answer from Liverpool by the end of next week - or he will pull the plug.

Taking over the debt would give the Chinese businessman a huge chance of forcing Hicks and Gillett out of power.

Huang, who bought 15 per cent of US basketball team Cleveland Cavaliers last year and is involved in Chinese baseball, also plans to finally get Liverpool's new 60,000-seat stadium off the ground.

And while buying the debt would not give him immediate ownership, sources insist it would hand him "a ridiculously large amount of leverage".

The club has officially been on the market since April, when the American duo admitted they felt they had taken Liverpool as far as they could.

Torres Pledges Future To Liverpool

Liverpool star Fernando Torres has gone a long way to ending the speculation surrounding his future by insisting he is at "the best club".

The forward has been linked with a move away from Anfield, with Chelsea and Manchester City believed to hovering with intent, and takeover talk at the club has only muddied the waters.

Torres returned to training at Liverpool on Monday and the following day confirmed his intention to work under new Reds manager Roy Hodgson.

"I really appreciated the fact that Roy came out to see me while I was on my holidays," Torres told the club's official website. "He told me about his plans for the club and what he wanted from me and I appreciated that.

"I hope he will be the right man to reach the targets of Liverpool Football Club and I am really looking forward to working with him. At the moment I am training just on my own but as soon as I can I will train with the team and with the new manager.

"This is the best club in the country so the targets and expectations are always high. Hopefully we can stay at our level. At Liverpool the aim is to fight for every title. It was difficult last season but we are sure we can improve this season. I am really happy to be back, really happy to stay with all my team-mates.

"My commitment and loyalty to the club and to the fans is the same as it was on my first day when I signed. I am looking forward to the challenge ahead."

Daniel Pacheco To Get His Chance At Liverpool

Premier League outfit Liverpool have made the decision not to farm promising youngster Daniel Pacheco out on loan for the coming season, if a report in Spanish paper El Mundo Deportivo is to be believed.

The young striker was one of the stars of the Under-19 European Championships earlier this summer and has since been linked with loan moves to La Liga sides Real Sociedad and Malaga.

However, Pacheco's outstanding performances didn't go unnoticed in Liverpool either and new manager Roy Hodgson is supposedly ready to give the former Barcelona starlet the chance to prove his worth. The report claims that Liverpool have already turned down an official offer from a Primera Division side for the 19-year-old.

Pacheco joined Liverpool from Barcelona in the summer of 2007, but the highly rated youngster has failed to secure regular first team action at the Reds so far. He made his league debut for Liverpool in December 2009.

Liverpool Step Up Pursuit Of Juventus Midfielder Christian Poulsen

Liverpool have stepped up their pursuit of Juventus midfielder Christian Poulsen as a replacement for Inter Milan-bound Javier Mascherano.

The Liverpool Echo said that the Dane was ahead of Standard Liege’s Steven Defour on Roy Hodgson's midfield wish-list, and sources in Denmark said further discussions had recently taken place between the Reds and Juventus.

Juventus are said to want around 6 million euros for the 30-year-old.

Poulsen’s adviser, Joern Bonnesen, has revealed that his client would love to work again with Hodgson, who coached the player at FC Copenhagen, said the paper.

Palermo Admit Interest In Liverpool's Lucas Leiva

Palermo sporting director Walter Sabatini has admitted an interest in Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva, but said reports on having made a rich bid were less than accurate.

The Rosanero have long been linked with the Brazilian midfielder as they continue to bolster their squad following the departures of Simon Kjaer, Fabio Simplicio and Edinson Cavani.

And while they are keen on the Reds man, who recently claimed he was "happy" at Anfield, Sabatini insists there is no deal or offer in place just yet.

"Leiva is a very strong player and I like him very much," Sabatini told

"But to speak of a deal already is not accurate. We have to wait. I cannot say any more."

Last month Sabatini denied his side had made a €7 million offer for the midfielder.

Torres A Doubt For Arsenal Clash

Fernando Torres looks likely to miss the start of the season as Liverpool look to the long term in protecting his fitness.

The Spanish striker was back in training yesterday, after enjoying his first holiday in three years, following his World Cup triumph with his country.

But after picking up a groin injury in training in the final against Holland, the centre forward is not yet ready to complete a full training session.

On Monday, he was restricted to some light running and gym work, and even though the injury is now almost fully cleared, the club will resist the urge to rush him back, and instead take sensible precautions to ensure his long term health.

Torres will take no part in Thursday Europa League qualifier against Rabotnicki, and is unlikely to be included in full contact sessions until the start of next week.

That means he would have no warm-up games before next Sunday's Premier League opener against Arsenal - and little or no chance of starting in that match.

Instead, Torres is likely to be given a run out in a training ground contest and then aimed at a gentle introduction into the first team - quite possibly in Liverpool's next Europa League game on August 19.

Manager Roy Hodgson has been extremely careful in ensuring that his players who performed in the latter stages of the World Cup are given adequate rest to avoid burn out later in the season.

Torres has suffered several serious injury setbacks over the past two years, after missing a summer break because of international commitments with Spain.

The groin injury he picked up was not a serious one, but he still required at least three weeks of rest, and club doctors will be cautious about returning him to full contact sessions.

Hodgson is confident the striker will be part of his plans this season, and he wants him to play far more games during the campaign than he did last year, when he managed to last the full 90 minutes for a mere 14 matches.

The new manager has protected all his World Cup players, and gave the England international members of his squad a break when he took his side to Macedonia for last week's first leg against Rabotnicki.

The likes of Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson and Jamie Carragher will play in the return on Thursday night, because it is Liverpool's last game before the opening weekend clash against Arsenal.

But Torres will be eased back in gently, as the manager looks to protect him from the ravages of injury that forced him to miss the final two months of last season and decimated his World Cup campaign.

Hodgson held more talks with the player yesterday, specifically over his fitness program, but also about his long term commitment to the club.

Investors Deem Liverpool Shares ''Worthless''

Liverpool's potential investors, a Far East Sovereign Wealth Fund that includes Kenny Huang, are looking to secure a takeover of the club at a knockdown price.

The investors intend to use their funds to pay for the new stadium and new players rather than line the pockets of owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks as the shares are "worthless".

"The owners will be a Far East Sovereign Wealth Fund of which Kenny Huang will be one of two main partners and owners of Liverpool football club,'' a source close to the talks revealed. "The Sovereign Wealth Fund has been in touch with the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Liverpool board to inform them that they do not value the equity of the company higher than the debt.

"The debt stands at around £350 million and at the moment the valuation is based on between 80p to £1 in the pound, but no more. In layman's terms the shares are worthless, and therefore there is no offer to the current shareholders."

That means that the offer from the Sovereign Wealth Fund is to cover all of Liverpool's current debts, most of which are with the RBS at close to £240 million. A guarantee that RBS will get its money back is extremely appealing to the bank, but not to Hicks and Gillett.

"The problem for the bank is that if this offer is not accepted soon, then the value drops, it drops if it goes past the point where investment cannot be made in new players, and to persuade the best players to stay,'' the source added. "You can understand why Gillett and Hicks would say no, because they want some value from their shares.

"It has been suggested there are alternative bids, but from the Sovereign Wealth Fund's perspective, that's fine. If they do not materialize there is a danger that the financial crisis will depend upon the extent that Liverpool go into distress.

"The new chairman was appointed by the bank as part of their agreement to extend the loan facility, but it has now emerged that the bank can call in part of that loan in October. If Liverpool do not accept this deal which is on the table, then the alternative could be dire, if they cannot find an alternative buyer.

"The board is faced with a stark choice; they could be faced with a sharp dip in valuation of the company, top players leaving and little funds to buy new ones. What this takeover will provide is the funds to start construction on a new stadium which is long overdue. This is crucial. You are not in the game if you do not have a modern stadium.''

Broughton Insists Board Have Control

The sale of Liverpool could be concluded by the close of the transfer window this month, but Chairman Martin Broughton insists the board remain in control of any deal. Chinese businessman Kenny Huang expressed his interest in assuming control of the Reds on Monday, with suggestions he would seek to acquire the club's €287 million debt from principal lender the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

However, Broughton, who was brought into the club in April to facilitate a sale, revealed there had been "several" bids for the Reds and insisted the decision over the sale will be made by the Liverpool board.

"Any bids that go straight to RBS - and there have been several - come to me and are directed to Barcap (Barclays Capital)," he told The Guardian. "RBS are not involved. The control remains with the board."

It is hoped a deal can be completed by August 31st.

Broughton, who was brought in to oversee the sale process, added: "It still remains the objective to conclude a deal before the end of the transfer window.

"That remains the objective but there are no deadlines, and we will continue working to complete the process.

"Both George Gillett and Tom Hicks remain on the board and they have given commitments that the board of Kop Holdings (Liverpool's UK parent company) is the party that is responsible for the sale."

Huang is the head of Hong Kong-based investment company QSL Sports Ltd and is believed to be keen to secure an agreement as soon as possible in order to give manager Roy Hodgson plenty of time to bring in reinforcements before the end of the transfer window.

Huang is believed to have already spoken to senior figures at Anfield to express his seriousness about a buy-out and in the hope that his message will filter down to help persuade top stars like Fernando Torres, who returned to training on Monday after his post-World Cup break, that the club does have a better future.

Torres has yet to publicly commit himself to the club the way captain Steven Gerrard did on his return from international duty, and speculation still links the Spain striker with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City.

The 26-year-old is disappointed with the lack of investment in the squad but, with a potential change of ownership around the corner, he may find last season's request for "four or five" players is granted sooner than he could have wished.

One of those new additions, Joe Cole - albeit a free signing following his release from Chelsea - is eagerly anticipating playing alongside the World Cup winner.

"One of the main reasons I came to Liverpool was because I wanted to play with these great players and I'm going to work every day to make Fernando as many chances as I can," said the England midfielder.

"I've been watching the way he plays ever since he came to the club and, the season before last, he was the best striker in the world, without a shadow of a doubt.

"My job is to make chances for the front men and I can't wait to play alongside him."

Rupert Murdoch Bid To See End Of Liverpool Owner Tom Hicks’ Sports Involvement

Tom Hicks, the co-owner of English soccer club Liverpool and owner of Major League Baseball franchise the Texas Rangers, is expected to sell both clubs in the coming weeks, with a host of bidders interested in both.

Chinese businessman Kenny Huang, who recently purchased a stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA franchise, is the frontrunner to take over at Liverpool, but faces stiff competition, with Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton confirming the club has multiple suitors. Meanwhile, News Corp, Rupert Murdoch's media giant - and the main source of revenue for the English Premier League as it has grown into the most popular domestic soccer league in the world - is believed to be preparing a bid for the Texas Rangers.

The baseball franchise filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May in an effort to remove itself from claims from creditors against Hicks Sports Group, Tom Hicks' sports company. At the time Hicks, who arrived at Liverpool in 2007 along with compatriot George Gillett, told the Dallas Morning News that owning a sports team opened a businessman to a "brutal invasion of privacy," adding: "It's never been my primary business, and it's a business I no longer want to be involved in."

Hicks also noted that he expects to lose "a couple of hundred" million on the Texas Rangers, but to make it back on Liverpool's sale.