Thursday, August 12, 2010

Liverpool Sale Plot Thickens After Kenny Huang Lawsuit Is Revealed

Potential Liverpool owner Kenny Huang was successfully sued for nearly $800,000 (£505,000) in damages by a former business partner after their relationship went sour.

The adverse court finding emerged as Huang was preparing to present Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton with an offer for the club and proof of funds ahead of a board meeting on Thursday that may decide the fate of the club.

Huang’s bid has been clouded in uncertainty since it was made public amid claims that it would be backed by investment from the China Investment Corporation, the Chinese state’s sovereign wealth arm.

On Tuesday Huang’s associate on the bid, Marc Ganis, added to the confusion, telling that they had not yet decided whether to make an offer for the club and that no investors, including CIC, had yet been identified.

Huang is one of four potential bidders for Liverpool. Also understood to be considering offers are Syrian businessman Yahya Kurdi, who said on Tuesday he would not offer “one pound more” than the club are worth, New York investment house the Rhone Group, and the Kuwaiti Al-Kharifi family.

The Liverpool board are scheduled to meet to discuss any offers they receive on Wednesday having asked for proof of funds and detailed offers by then.

None of the potential bidders has yet provided proof of funds, though they are all understood to have been subject to background checks by parties involved in the sales process.

The adverse judgment against Huang was handed down in January 1999 by a circuit judge in Seminole County, Florida, and relates to a dispute with a former business associate, Yudong Zhang, and a company, T&K Guang Xin Enterprises.

According to the judgment, a copy of which has been seen by Telegraph Sport, Huang, then a resident of Las Vegas, was ordered to pay damages of $750,000 (£473,000) and interest of $788,300 (£497,000).

On Tuesday night a spokesman for Huang confirmed that the court had found against him in the case but declined to discuss what the source of the dispute was or the nature of the business venture.

Neither could he confirm whether Huang was appealing against the judgment, but he said Huang disputed that the money was owed to his former associates.

Huang has also recently won a legal dispute arising from his involvement in an attempt by a Chinese-owned car company to establish itself in the United States.

Huang was faced with suits for tortious interference with a business relationship, fraud, defamation and a breach of fiduciary duty brought by AutoChina Ltd, but won them all and was awarded $300,000 (£189,000) in damages earlier this year.

According to transcripts of the hearings, held in Miami in March, one of those behind the allegations was David Herzig, who is listed as a co-director in one of Huang’s firms, Aspen Infrastructure.

US Court records list Huang as being involved in several other court proceedings in the last six years. Huang’s spokesman said on Tuesday evening that he had not been found against in any of them, and that there were no outstanding legal proceedings against him.

“Mr. Huang’s focus is now on preparing QSL’s bid [for Liverpool] and he has briefed all of his advisers that he will be making no further comment at this point in time,” the spokesman said.

Earlier Ganis indicated that a bid was not certain. In an exchange with, he said: “Among the most important points I have tried to get out is that no proposal [in relation to a Liverpool bid] has been made and no decision to offer a proposal has been made.

“There were many reports about CIC, yet at no time to [any] party, whether [to] the media, Sir Martin [Broughton] or Barcap, have we ever identified that CIC was an investor.”

Liverpool Bidder Kirdi Won't Pay Over The Odds

Prospective Liverpool owner Yahya Kirdi insists he will not pay any more for the club than it is worth and has warned any takeover would take "at least two months".

A range of groups have expressed interest in taking over Liverpool, and Kirdi issued a statement earlier this week saying he was "in advanced negotiations with Thomas Hicks and George Gillett, co-owners of Liverpool Football Club, to purchase 100% of the club".

Kirdi, though, has said the current owners have rejected two of his bids since they put the club up for sale in April and warned he would not overpay for the club.

"I can't pay one pound more than value of Liverpool," Kirdi told Bloomberg. "I'm not crazy."

Soccernet understands chairman Martin Broughton has yet to recommend a bidder on behalf of the board as he has yet to see proof of funds from any of the prospective bidders, and Kirdi has indicated that there is no prospect of a deal being completed before the close of the transfer window.

"I want at least two months, two months to see everything," he said. "After that if everything is OK it's a deal. If not, thank you very much."

He added: "I trust Martin Broughton and he'll decide who's good for Liverpool."

Given the negative perception of Hicks and Gillett among the club's supporters, Kirdi has said he is not "a cancer who takes money out of Liverpool".

"I've liked them since I was young," he said. "It's not important for me that I'm the owner of Liverpool. Whoever takes Liverpool must do good for the club."

Kirdi also said he felt new manager Roy Hodgson's more genial style would be far better for the club than the approach employed by his predecessor, Rafael Benitez.

"Rafael didn't do anything good for Liverpool," Kirdi said. "Hodgson is very good for Liverpool because he's not some kind of dictator."

The Royal Bank of Scotland could take charge of Liverpool if the club is not sold by October 6.

Fitness Is Key For Liverpool FC, Says Roy Hodgson

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has pin-pointed the key to success this season – simply keeping his key players fit.

Pivotal among them will be striker Fernando Torres, who in three seasons with the Reds has yet to get through an entire campaign injury-free.

Last season was the Spain international’s worst to date on Merseyside as he struggled with a groin problem before Christmas and then underwent two knee operations in four months, the second of which prematurely ended his domestic involvement.

Other players missed sections of last season with captain Steven Gerrard, defenders Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Fabio Aurelio and now-departed Yossi Benayoun affected.

It is something Hodgson knows he has little control over but he hopes, with the medical staff having had an overhaul during the summer with a new head of sports science in Dr Peter Brukner, that fitness will improve and bring more success on the pitch.

“It’s to do with the quality of the sports science and medical department,” said the 62-year-old. “Ours is very, very good, so I am sure that will be an enormous benefit.

“The other thing is how big a squad you’ve got to enable players to be rested when they need it, and to ensure they’re not being thrown into situations all the time where really and truly they’d have been better off having a rest.

“If we are to proceed in the Europa League (Liverpool face Trabzonspor in a two-legged play-off) it is going to mean an awful lot of matches, so the strength and size of our squad will be of vital importance.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re Fernando Torres or anybody else, to play three games a week for something like 35-40 weeks of the year is an impossible task at the level we’re playing at.

“But matches are won by players who go out onto the field; the better the players you’ve got to put on the field, the more chance you have of winning matches.

“In this convoluted world of football today we try to find excuses and reasons for things all over the place and forget sometimes the most important people in the game of football are those guys you pay to go and watch.”

One player who has experienced his fair share of injuries at Anfield is Aurelio.

The time he spent off the field contributed to former boss Rafael Benitez not giving him a new contract at the end of the season.

However, with cover at left-back thin on the ground the Brazilian has been given a second chance by Hodgson, who re-signed him last month.

“When you are in a top side like Liverpool you will always have competition for your place,” Aurelio said.

“I know they are looking for another full-back but if I can concentrate on my job and do well, hopefully that can convince the boss that I can be the first choice.

“I am thankful to the manager that I am back here.

“He wanted me to come back and now I want to repay him on the pitch, where I hope to be for most of the time this season.”

Hodgson Eyes Free And Easy Brazilian

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is monitoring former Sao Paulo defender Aislan who is available on a free transfer after being released by the club. The Anfield club tried to sign the defender in 2008 but baulked at the £10 million asking price.

The 6ft 4in defender was close to agreeing a new deal at the Brazilian club but instead opted to reject the offer of a new contract and look to find a new club in Europe, with Liverpool confirmed admirers of the talented youngster.

The tall Brazilian defender has reputation for being a commanding ball playing centre-back, who at the age of 22-years-old has been tipped for a big future in the game. Hodgson is looking at adding bodies to his squad and is weighing up a number of defensive options.

The reds manager is also thought to be looking at Paul Sharner, who is also a free agent having been released by Wigan Athletic.

Di Matteo Still Hopeful Over Ngog

West Brom boss Roberto Di Matteo has revealed he is still working on a deal to sign Liverpool striker David Ngog.

West Brom have been linked with a loan move for Ngog throughout the summer but, after his brace at Rabotnicki Kometal, Roy Hodgson said he had no intention of allowing him to leave.

Di Matteo has said he is looking at several options as he attempts to bolster his squad for the new season but he is still hopeful of agreeing a deal for Ngog.

"Ngog is a player we've been linked with and we are working on that one," he said. "We're trying. It's ongoing. We are looking at a number of players we would like to sign."

Liverpool Ready To Sell Alberto Aquilani

Liverpool are prepared to part ways with midfielder Alberto Aquilani after just one season, according to The Mirror and

The Italian arrived at the English Premier League side last summer for a hefty €20 million from Roma, but spent the first half of the season struggling with injury and only showed flashes of his talent in the latter part of the 2009-10 campaign. Due to his injuries and loss of form he lost out on a place in Italy's squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The Reds could sell the 26-year-old for just over half of what they paid for him, in order to gather the funds to make a bid for Belgian starlet Steven Defour.

Thus far, Liverpool have managed to hold on to a number of their stars this summer despite not qualifying for the Champions League, although Reds boss Roy Hodgson has admitted that Javier Mascherano is a prime candidate to leave.

Barcelona To Offer Liverpool Alexander Hleb As Makeweight For Javier Mascherano

With Inter Milan having rules themselves out of signing Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano, Barcelona are favourites to land the Argentinian and will offer former Arsenal man Alexander Hleb in part-exchange.

Mascherano has reportedly told Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson that he would like to leave Anfield. However, Hodgson has made it clear that the club, not the player will decide the terms of Mascherano's exit.

Barcelona attempted to sign the 26-year-old last summer and now Mascherano has reignited the possibility of a move to the Nou Camp with his representative in Spain Horacio Zandonadi saying, "The player would love to hear from Barca."

Reports in several Spanish dailies suggest that Barcelona are keen on capturing Mascherano and see him as the natural battling midfielder to fill the hole left by Yaya Toure, who left for Manchester City this summer.

However, Barcelona are reluctant to pay the expected 20 million Euro fee that Liverpool will demand. Newspaper Mundo Deportivo suggests that Barcelona will offer a cut-price 9.5million euros plus midfielder Hleb. The 29-year-old Belarus international had a relatively successful loan spell at Stuttgart last season, having failed to establish himself at the Nou Camp.

Liverpool Join Race For Fiorentina Midfielder Mario Bolatti

According to a report in Argentinian newspaper Ole, Premier League giants Liverpool are considering making a move for highly rated midfielder Mario Bolatti, currently under contract with Fiorentina.

The Reds are in the market for a new midfielder because of the possible departure of Javier Mascherano this summer and new manager Roy Hodgson supposedly sees the 25-year-old Bolatti as the perfect replacement.

Bolatti started his professional career with Belgrano and also played for Porto and Huracan before joining Fiorentina in January 2010. However, he has been unable to settle in his new surroundings and could therefore be on the move again.

The Argentinian international initially appeared to be on his way to River Plate on a one-year loan deal, but Liverpool's interest could very well convince Bolatti to stay in Europe after all.

Standard Chartered Eager For Liverpool FC To Bank Full Sponsorship Payment

Standard Chartered Bank relishes paying £20m to Liverpool FC this season – an indication the Anfield club has achieved a successful campaign.

The bank agreed a four-year £80m performance-related shirt sponsorship with Liverpool starting this season with remuneration linked to on-field achievements.

A repeat of last season’s lacklustre fortunes is unlikely to result in a maximum return under the terms of the deal, but Standard Chartered chairman John Peace is full of optimism.

“I would be disappointed if we did not have to pay up this year. We didn’t pay for poor results. I think Liverpool will have a great season.”

Standard Chartered’s pedigree extends to more than 150 years trading across the former British Empire in India and Asia, which is still its main business focus.

And self-confessed “soccer fan” Mr. Peace said Liverpool and the bank have much in common: “I came up to Liverpool some months ago to finalize the contract and one thing that struck me was how closely aligned the heritage of Liverpool and Standard Chartered is. We both care about the communities in which we serve.”

He believes both bank and club can prosper, particularly in the Asian and Far Eastern markets, where Liverpool’s brand is already assured.

Mr. Peace was in Hong Kong last week to announce the bank’s interim results, live on Chinese TV, which saw a 10% increase in pre-tax profits of £1.96bn.

He said: “I made quite a feature of our sponsorship with Liverpool and referred to them quite a lot and the fact that Torres will stay with the club.

“I think the fans should realize just how big Liverpool is in the Far East.”

Mr. Peace said it was too early for the bank to evaluate a return from its sponsorship, but added: “Judging by what has happened in the Press the last few weeks and the shots of the players in the shirts on TV, I think it bodes very well indeed.”

And he is keen to increase exposure for both parties in the bank’s main business arena: “I would love to see the club do a tour in the Far East and we would get right behind that and make it a success.”

Speaking of Liverpool’s successful entry into the Europa League against FC Rabotnicki last week, he said: “I was delighted with the result and thought the game had many high points.

“From a commercial view and the way Liverpool are promoting our name, I was proud to be associated with them.

“I am a big fan of Kenny Dalglish and have the memory of Liverpool being the most successful club in Britain. We should not go backwards to get back to where we were, but build on all the things we have achieved.”