Saturday, August 07, 2010

Liverpool FC Ownership Must Be Sorted Soon, Says Roy Hodgson

Roy Hodgson insists speculation over Liverpool FC’s future ownership will not affect his focus on football but admits the longer it takes the more difficult it makes his transfer options.

The 62-year-old Liverpool FC manager enjoyed a straightforward Anfield debut as his side beat Macedonians Rabotnicki 2-0 in their Europa League third qualifying round second leg, a David Ngog header and a Steven Gerrard penalty wrapped up a 4-0 aggregate victory before half-time on the night.

However, Liverpool FC is currently being dominated by issues off the pitch as various factions jostle for position in the race to take over from American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Rumours on Thursday suggested the Chinese government was behind a bid fronted by Hong Kong-based businessman Kenny Huang while Syrian Yahya Kirdi has claimed he is in pole position to become the new owner.

Hodgson admits he does not have any involvement in that side of Liverpool FC’s business but he is acutely aware what impact continued delays in a change of ownership could have.

"The interesting thing for me was the game, that has been my total focus," he said on Wednesday night.

"When and if a takeover takes place I’m sure I will be informed.

"We have made some signings so far and we hope to bring in at least a couple of other players.

"I think the danger would be in a late takeover that money would be made available but we wouldn’t have had a chance to research the players in this transfer window.

"We are doing our research in this window and targeting players that the club is capable and able to buy.

"If one day an enormous amount of money is made available like it was for Manchester City and Chelsea so be it, it would be nice.

"But we would still have to do a lot of research before we started splashing that money around.

"It is not a question of how much a player costs, it is how good he is."

Hodgson had praise for the impressive Joe Cole on his home debut after starting the former Chelsea midfielder in a central role behind striker Ngog.

"Joe is desperate to play. He came here because he thought he might get the opportunity to start more games than he did at Chelsea," added the Englishman.

"He is an enthusiastic and effervescent footballer and the more he plays the happier he is.

"His energy and enthusiasm tonight meant he had a really good home debut."

On the team performance as a whole Hodgson added: "I am perfectly satisfied; we played some very attractive football and created lots of chances, more than the scoreline suggests.

"We kept our discipline and that was important too because it is so easy in these games to lose your way and for people to start doing things you don’t want them doing."

Ganis And Huang Will Make 'Substantial Money' Available To Liverpool

Kenny Huang has delivered an outline takeover proposal to Liverpool's chairman, Martin Broughton, pledging to erase the club's debt, build a new stadium and to provide significant funding for player transfers.

Marc Ganis, Huang's long-term associate and a sports consultant who lives in Chicago, today confirmed that he made contact with the Liverpool board on Monday on behalf of the Hong Kong-based investment vehicle, QSL Sports.

"We haven't submitted a formal proposal but we submitted the broad parameters of what a proposal would look like to see if it would be welcomed, and it was," said Ganis. Preparing to fund the deal, as revealed by the Guardian yesterday, is the China Investment Corporation, as a "passive investor".

Ganis promised that substantial money would be available to the club. "Liverpool is and always should be one of the highest-spending clubs in all of football," he said. "And our financial models presume Liverpool will be at or near the top in spending on players every year."

Also involved in QSL alongside Huang and Ganis is Guang Yang, a senior investment-fund manager with Franklin Templeton. Huang and Yang would oversee the day-to-day operations at the club, however Ganis reassured fans that the current executive structure, led by the managing director, Christian Purslow, and commercial director, Ian Ayre, would remain in place.

"From what we have seen from afar, many of the people currently running Liverpool are doing a good job," said Ganis. "There shouldn't be an expectation there would be a mass upheaval if we submit and are approved."

However a deal would see the departure of Tom Hicks and George Gillett. The pair are known to believe the club is worth £800m but Huang's consortium will not stretch beyond repayment of the loans they have invested in the club, and would provide no value for their shareholdings.

"What is not one of our goals is the enrichment of the existing owners," Ganis said. "If we submit a proposal and it is accepted, it would be focused on the future and not the past.”If anybody wants to [pay for the Hicks/Gillett shares], good luck. We know what we would be prepared to do. If somebody else wants to look at it in a different way, it's their money. That would be their business, not ours."

There will be little Hicks and Gillett can do about that. It is Broughton and his co-directors Ayre and Purslow who hold sway in the takeover battle surrounding the Anfield club. Although Hicks and Gillett remain on the board, under the terms of the latest refinancing agreement on Liverpool's £237m loan with Royal Bank of Scotland, they cannot determine who takes over if Broughton, Ayre and Purslow vote en bloc in favour of any particular bidder.

Since their principal motivation is the future stability of the club, Ganis and Huang thus made great play of the potential for huge revenue growth if the club taps in to the Chinese market, which QSL would be uniquely well-placed to achieve.

Defour Chase On Hold Until Next Summer

Liverpool and Manchester United will have to wait until next summer to battle it out to sign Belgian midfielder Steven Defour, according to the player’s agent Paul Stefani. The Belgian international will instead spend the forthcoming season in his current surroundings at Standard Liege.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was thought to be leading the race to sign the player while Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City are also closely monitoring the situation. Having sustained a terrible leg break last season, Ferguson and Hodgson are now cautiously waiting to see if the playmaker will recover from the potentially career threatening fitness problem.

Defour, 22, won the Golden Shoe in 2008, the official award for the most valuable player in the Belgian league, however the leg break sustained in September 2009 kept the talented midfielder on the sidelines for much of the last campaign. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson even wrote to the player to commiserate over the leg break which ruled him out of much of last season’s Champions League campaign promising to keep in touch with the youngster’s progress.

Representative Stefani revealed yesterday: "It's very likely Steven will be a Liege player this season.

"In the future, you don't know. Of course there is interest from some clubs but Steven wants to play more games at his current club.

"He has had an injury and needs to get back playing regularly, so for now it's best if he stays put."

Stefani confirmed to on Monday that Defour must concentrate on his recovery this summer:

“At the moment we are waiting for Steven’s injury problems to be finished and for him to start training. He is not 100 % fit and he has not recovered fully from his injury. So nothing can happen.

“You never know what will happen in the future, but at the moment there is nothing, he must concentrate on recovering.”

Liverpool Plan Cut Price £12m Manchester City Duo Raid

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is rumoured to be lining up a move to bring cut price Manchester City pair Shaun Wright-Phillips and Wayne Bridge to Anfield.

The newly installed manager is looking to bring in more quality additions to his squad but is having to work with a restricted budget but believes that Roberto Mancini’s need to trim his weighty Eastlands squad could help secure the England international pair on the cheap.

The former Chelsea pair are both not likely to be first team starters next term and could well be interested in a move to the Merseyside club where they could reignite their flagging careers and perhaps even revive hope of an international future.

Roy Hodgson is keen on inject more experienced talent into his line up and could well be in need of a new left back. Fabio Aurelio was recalled back to the club and Emiliano Insua is yet to conclude his deal to join Fiorentina but arguably Bridge would be a player who would ease nicely into the full back spot.

The club has also would also benefit from some more natural width and given that Shaun Wright-Philips plays chiefly on the right this could give Dirk Kuyt the chance to revert back to his natural position of out and out forward. The pint sized 28 year old would also add some more creativity to the club’s midfield and still has a great turn of pace and an eye for goal.

The pair could be snapped up for as little as £12m as Roberto Mancini looks to cut his squad ahead of the new 25 player Premier League limit.

Boro Quote Liverpool £3m For Keeper

Middlesbrough wants a staggering £3 million for Australian keeper Brad Jones - after turning down a bid for half of that figure from Liverpool.

Boro supremo Steve Gibson is holding out for the massive sum despite the surprise move from the Kop, first revealed by Football Spy.

Jones is willing to move to Anfield and cover for keeper Pepe Reina but the deal is now in jeopardy as Liverpool does not want to spend so much on a number two.

Liverpool could now go back for Reading's Adam Federeci after cooling on a move for him because of his inflated valuation too.

Agent Of Juventus Midfielder Christian Poulsen Confirms Liverpool Talks

Christian Poulsen's Liverpool move is progressing as his agent confirms talks with the club over his transfer from Juventus.

Reds boss Roy Hodgson has made it clear he wants the midfielder at the club as he prepares for life after Javier Mascherano, who looks set to join Inter.

Poulsen's agent Jorn Bonnesen has confirmed he has been in talks with Liverpool, but he failed to spell out where the axe would fall in terms of a concrete agreement.

"To tell the truth I don't know if we are in agreement with Liverpool," he told Tipsbladet.

"It's a question that is not resolved in just two minutes. What's more I don't know if Liverpool and Juventus have reached an agreement.

"I have met with the English directors to negotiate personal terms and to hear what they are offering."

Sky Sport Italia claim Bonnesen is still in Merseyside wrapping up a deal for his client. Liverpool are reportedly paying Juventus around €6 million for the transfer.

VfB Stuttgart Sign Liverpool Defender Philipp Degen On Season-Long Loan Deal

Stuttgart have signed Liverpool outcast Philipp Degen on a season-long loan deal, according to Sky Sports News.

The defender arrived on Merseyside from Borussia Dortmund in 2008, but has since failed to create an impact significant enough to receive regular first-team football.

New boss Roy Hodgson had also previously confirmed that the Switzerland international does not form a part of his plans for the upcoming season.

The 27-year-old now reunites with his former boss Christian Gross in Germany, having already played under the coach during his days with Basel.

The Bundesliga club's general manager Fredi Bobic had previously confirmed the deal, as he told ZDF: "Philipp Degen will arrive for his medical on Friday and, if this all works out, then he will sign his contract. We have reached an agreement with the club and also with the player."

Degen said: "For me this loan represents a great chance to rediscover my best form."

Liverpool Ask Potential Owners To Prove They Have The Money

Liverpool are believed to have told all potential owners that they will have to prove that they have the money before the middle of next week.

The Reds' takeover has been the subject of much discussion, since current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett - who have an unsavoury reputation with the fans - decided to put the club up for sale.

It was initially believed that Kenny Huang, backed by the Chinese government, was set to takeover the club imminently. But recent reports also pointed towards former Syria international Yahya Kirdi - who represents Middle East & Canadian investors - as being very close to a takeover.

To add to the mix, there had also been some speculation that the Rhone Group - who were previously believed to have been interested in a takeover - were back in the race to buy the Merseyside club.

Now The Times has reported that the Reds' chairman, Martin Broughton, put across a deadline to the bidders to prove their worth.

It is believed that a takeover could be completed within a week from now, with Huang currently the frontrunner in the race to acquire Liverpool.