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By ESPN Staff

Hicks joins Gillett in attempt to purchase Liverpool

DALLAS -- Tom Hicks, owner of the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers, is close to adding England's Liverpool soccer club to his list of sports holdings.

Hicks has agreed to join Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett Jr. in a bid to purchase the five-time European champions, a person familiar with the negotiations said Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.

The decision by Hicks to join Gillette's bid was first reported by The Dallas Morning News on its Web site Thursday. Hicks did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Hicks would have a 50 percent stake in the group. Gillette's offer seemed imminent after a Dubai-based consortium pulled out of a proposed $882 million offer Wednesday. Dubai International Capital, owned by the ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, called off negotiations after hearing that the board of directors was considering a bid from Gillett.

Liverpool has won a record 18 English league titles and is planning to build a 60,000-seat stadium. The club has been looking for a buyer to help fund construction of a stadium and provide the financial power to compete with Chelsea and Manchester United in the transfer market.

If the Hicks-Gillett bid succeeds, the group would become the third American owner of a Premier League team. Malcolm Glazer owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United, and Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner took over Aston Villa in September.

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra made a bid for Liverpool three years ago. The Liverpool board also had talks with another American billionaire, New England Patriots and Revolution owner Robert Kraft.