Club not up for sale: Liver­pool source

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

THE Amer­i­can own­ers of Liver­pool, one of the most fa­mous teams in English soc­cer, are not plan­ning to sell, a se­nior source at the club said yes­ter­day, af­ter re­ports that a Chi­nese-backed con­sor­tium wanted to buy a size­able stake.

There were no ac­tive dis­cus­sions in­volv­ing Fen­way Sports Group, the Boston-based own­ers, and the English Premier League club had re­ceived no bid, added the source who de­clined to be named be­cause of the sen­si­tiv­ity of the sub­ject.

The source re­stated the club’s po­si­tion that its own­ers would lis­ten to any ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est from po­ten­tial in­vestors in Liver­pool but move for­ward only with the right part­ner.

Chi­nese com­pa­nies are in­creas­ingly in­ter­ested in buy­ing up stakes in Euro­pean soc­cer clubs not only as good in­vest­ments but also a way to help Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s bid to raise the pro­file of the sport in China.

Chi­nese groups an­nounced deals this month to buy Italy’s AC Mi­lan, English Premier League West Bromwich Al­bion and se­cond-tier French side Aux­erre.

Liver­pool have won the English league ti­tle 18 times but the last of those tri­umphs was in 1990 be­fore the Premier League was set up. Clubs such as Chelsea and Manch­ester City, bankrolled by wealthy own­ers from Rus­sia and the Gulf, have over­taken them in re­cent years.

The Fi­nan­cial Times re­ported that Liver­pool’s own­ers had hired an in­vest­ment bank to ad­vise on the pos­si­ble sale of a size­able stake to a part­ner­ship be­tween Ever­bright, a Chi­nese state-owned fi­nan­cial con­glom­er­ate, and PCP Cap­i­tal Part­ners, run by fi­nancier Amanda Stave­ley.

Ear­lier this week, chair­man Tom Werner de­nied Liver­pool were up for sale while chief ex­ec­u­tive Ian Ayre said the club were not en­gaged in in­vest­ment dis­cus­sions with any­one. The source said that did not mean there was no in­ter­est in the club.

Liver­pool, whose back­ers also own the Boston Red Sox base­ball team, are just com­plet­ing rede­vel­op­ment work to in­crease the ca­pac­ity of their fa­mous An­field sta­dium to 54 000.

A spokesman for the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment, which un­der new Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May has said it will re­view a Chi­nese-backed nu­clear energy project, de­clined to com­ment on the re­port, say­ing it was a mat­ter for Liver­pool’s own­ers.

Other re­cent re­cip­i­ents of Chi­nese back­ing in­clude English clubs As­ton Villa, Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers and In­ter Mi­lan while Manch­ester City and Atletico Madrid have sig­nif­i­cant mi­nor­ity in­vest­ments from the coun­try.

The sale of AC Mi­lan was the most high-pro­file of the re­cent spate of Chi­nese in­vest­ments but any deal for Liver­pool, the world’s ninth rich­est club by rev­enue ac­cord­ing to Deloitte, is al­most cer­tain to eclipse that. — AFP

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