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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 5 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 4, 2006

Maktoums close in on £450m Liverpool takeover

Liverpool are on the verge of agreeing to a takeover by one of the world's richest men in a move that would set the Merseyside club back on the road to being a football superpower.

The club have confirmed they have given exclusive rights to Dubai International Capital (DIC) - a firm owned by the fabulously-wealthy Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai - to launch a takeover bid.

Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry said the takeover holds the key to the club's new stadium and being able to compete with the richest clubs in the world.

DIC have been given permission to conduct due diligence - to have their lawyers and accountants examine the club's accounts in detail - and are expected to submit a formal offer soon after Christmas.

The offer is expected to be for a total of £450million - £170million for a controlling stake in the club, £80million to cover existing debts and £200million to go towards a new stadium in Stanley Park.

Parry said: 'This is the latest step on the road of finding the long-term investment that the club needs.

'DIC is a potential investor with the resources and philosophy that we believe could make them an ideal partner.

'Already they have demonstrated a full understanding of, and respect for, the club's heritage and values.

'We also believe they share our passion for success. In particular, DIC believes in investing in the businesses it acquires. This is very important in terms of the proposed new stadium, which is key to plans for the regeneration of the local community.

'On the pitch, Liverpool remains focused on winning and, here again, this is all about doing a deal that gives us the long-term resources to do that.'

DIC's chief executive Sameer Al Ansari is a Liverpool fan who has been to matches on a number of occasions. He could possibly replace David Moores as club chairman, though it is thought Parry would remain as chief executive and Moores retain a senior position within the club.

Al Ansari said in a statement: 'DIC has a strong track record as a very serious investor with considerable resources at its disposal. At the same time, we are supporters - of the game and of the club.

'Liverpool's investment requirements have been well publicised and we hope we can agree a deal that will provide the club with the funds it needs, both on and off the pitch.'

DIC are one of half a dozen private equity firms buying up investments around the world on behalf of Dubai Holdings, which is owned by Sheikh Mohammed, who is also vice-president of the United Arab Emirates.

DIC recently bought Madame Tussauds for £750million and the Travelodge hotel chain.

The new stadium and injection of cash would see Liverpool be able to compete with Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, who this season moved to the new 60,000-capacity Emirates stadium - Anfield's capacity is only 44,000.

Liverpool would now have the finances to move to a 60,000-capacity new stadium in Stanley Park.

Moores has conceded the only way to achieve the club's aim is to sell. He owns 51% of Liverpool and has always wanted to retain control and encourage investors to buy into the current set-up.

Sheikh Mohammed's fortune dwarfs that of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich - he is thought to be the fifth richest person in the world with a fortune of £5billion.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Portsmouth, Aston Villa, and most recently West Ham are the other Premiership clubs who have been taken over by foreign owners.

The lure of the £1.7billion 2007-2010 Premiership TV rights deal agreed with BSkyB and Setanta Sports is proving irresistible - it is comfortably twice the revenue from TV rights of any other country in the world.