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Peter Lim's deal with Salford nothing to do with third party ownership

Members of 'The Class of 92' with the Salford City team.

Singapore property tycoon Peter Lim has allayed fears that his purchasing 50 percent of Northern Premier League First Division North club, Salford City, is linked to his growing business interest in the European football industry.

Salford City are co-owned by the "Class of '92" --  the legendary quintet who arose from Manchester United's youth ranks, namely the Neville brothers Gary and Phil, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt.   

A Singapore-based spokesperson for Lim told The Guardian that the nature of Lim's investment in Salford City is "philanthropic," motivated by his interest in developing young players and has nothing to do with his ongoing takeover conversations with La Liga club Valencia or his 100 percent third party ownership (TPO) of two Benfica players -- Spanish striker Rodrigo Machado and Portuguese midfielder Andre Gomes -- currently on loan to Valencia.

Billionaire Lim is currently in advanced stages of concluding the takeover of Valencia after having agreed terms with the Valencia Foundation but is locked in protracted discussions with Spanish bank Bankia, which holds the club's debts.

Lim had acquired 100 percent economic rights of Machado and Gomes in January this year for 30 million euros and 15 million euros respectively through his company Meriton Capital and had loaned the duo during the summer to Valencia at a time when he was in advanced takeover conversations with Bankia.

"The only reason for Peter's investment in Salford City is aligned with his personal philanthropic interest in youth development and, of course, his support for the members of the class of 92," Lim's Singapore-based spokesperson told The Guardian.

The spokesperson's statement comes in the wake of growing fears that Lim's investment in Salford City is with the intent of using them as a partner club in his growing global football business interests. TPO is banned in England by the FA and last week, after pressure from UEFA, FIFA also pledged to remove the practice in a phased manner.

"Our involvement in the third-party ownership of players is not a long-term one," Lim's spokesperson said. "The case [sic] was mainly due to our acquisition of Valencia. We had submitted our offer to acquire Valencia in December 2013 and did not expect that it is a long and protracted one.

"We invested in the economic rights of Rodrigo and André during the January 2014 transfer window and it was solely with Valencia in mind. After the official support from the Valencia CF Foundation to sell the club to us (but before reaching an agreement with Bankia), the two players were on loan to Valencia for one year while we are trying to complete the transaction."

The "Class of '92" had announced last week that Lim would take a 50 percent share in their purchase of Salford City.

Lim -- who has a track record of investing in youth football development in his country through the Singapore Sports Foundation -- was already involved with "The Class of 92" in building a hotel, called Hotel Football, near Old Trafford prior to announcing the Salford partnership.

The Old Trafford legends had stated last week that they had known the Asian businessman for a decade through Lim's ownership of United's Red Cafe Asian franchise.

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