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Serie A season preview: AC Milan

AC Milan about an hour ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 27, 2007

Gillett unlikely to derail DIC's Liverpool bid

Dubai International Capital remain on course to complete a takeover of Liverpool despite the club admitting an approach was made by American businessman George Gillett last night.

The announcement was made to the Stock Exchange to comply with the Takeover Code and in response to growing speculation in the last week.

The statement to shareholders read: 'Following the recent press speculation, and to comply with our obligations under the Takeover Code, Liverpool Football Club today confirms that it has received an approach from George Gillett which may or may not lead to an offer.

'Shareholders will be kept informed as appropriate.'

Liverpool sources this week insisted the takeover of the club by DIC could be confirmed 'within weeks', despite reports of Gillett's interest.

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 Reds rejected by David Moores, has recently written to the Liverpool chairman offering an increased deal.

It was announced on national television 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 soldiering on with the conclusion of negotiations with DIC, who are intent on completing their £450million bid 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 expected 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 per cent 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-seat 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 the 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.