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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 4, 2007

Benitez hoping for swift takeover deal

Rafael Benitez has called for a speedy conclusion to the Liverpool takeover saga.

US sports moguls Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jnr will be on Merseyside this week hoping to clinch a deal.

The pair have made what amounts to a £450million bid to buy the club, including chairman and owner David Moores' 51.6 per cent controlling interest.

Benitez, who could be given significant summer funds by the new consortium, sai after the goalless Merseyside derby clash with Everton: 'If it is sorted out next week, then that will be better because we can start talking about the game and the players rather than other things.'

It is now expected that Gillett and Hicks will be on Merseyside early in the week for further talks with Moores and the Liverpool board.

By the middle of the week, if talks go well, it is expected that a formal announcement will be made to the Stock Exchange.

But it is likely that there will be the need for an EGM to confirm that deal, despite Moores having a controlling interest.

He will still need to be able to satisfy the American buyers that they will be able to secure 90 per cent of the shares, which would allow them to compulsory purchase the rest.

There has been talk over the weekend that two previous prospective buyers, Belfast millionaire John Miskelly and the club's third biggest shareholder Steve Morgan, could unite to provide the alternative of a local consortium. But they would have to move fast to head off the Americans now.

The US pairing's main problem is to convince fans that this is not another Malcolm Glazier-style buy-out.

It seems likely that Gillett and Hicks would be joined on a newly-constituted board by their sons Foster and Thomas Jnr, respectively.

Current chief executive Rick Parry could also play a much more significant role than previously expected.

With Moores likely to be little more than a figurehead vice-president, Parry has the hands-on experience to continue his day-to-day running of the club.