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By ESPN Staff

Liverpool 'close' to Dubai-based takeover

Liverpool sources tonight insist that the takeover of the club by Dubai International Capital could be confirmed 'within weeks,' despite counter-claims that American bidder George Gillett was about to start an examination of the club's books.

And a successful deal with DIC would mean that work on the club's new stadium in Stanley Park could start in March, with a two-year completion date.

Gillett, the owner of Montreal Canadiens ice hockey club who has already had a bid to buy the club rejected by David Moores, has recently written to the Liverpool chairman offering an increased deal.

It was announced on national TV tonight that Gillett had been granted permission to start a process of due diligence.

However, Liverpool sources distanced themselves from such a move and claim they are soldering on with the conclusion of negotiations with DIC, who are intent on completing their £450million move to gain control of the Anfield club.

The latest move by Gillett, who is able to study the club's finances legally because he is a bidder, is considered to be a red herring by the Liverpool hierarchy as they move towards the successful completion of their negotiations with DIC.

A source said: 'It doesn't really matter what George Gillett does, he is able to see the club's books because he is a bidder for the club.

'But the club will continue working with DIC and are close to a satisfactory conclusion.'

It is expect that within a couple of weeks DIC will be in a position to announce through the Stock Exchange that they have had a bid accepted for Moores' 51% holding.

That would trigger the sale of the rest of the club's shares to DIC and the agreement to start work on the 60,000 new stadium.

The return of Gillett to the scene in the past few days has been an irritant to the current Liverpool hierarchy, who have been involved in detailed discussions with DIC over ownership of the club as well as the Stanley Park project.

Moores has already reached agreement with the investment arm of the Dubai government on a deal which would see DIC purchase majority control for around £155million, assume £80million of debt and fund a new 60,000-seater stadium close to the club's existing Anfield home.

Gillett's latest offer to Moores for his shares would be higher than DIC's, but the Liverpool chairman is more concerned with the future progress of the club and its finances.

There is also disquiet on the Liverpool board that Gillett would want to reopen the debate over ground sharing with Everton, which the current board and the majority of fans are against.