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Oct 8, 2009

Gillett books Saudi trip to sell Liverpool stake

Liverpool co-owner George Gillett is to travel to Saudi Arabia to discuss the sale of his 50% stake in the Anfield club to Saudi investor Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah al-Saud.

• Saudis confirm talks to buy Reds stake

Prince Faisal's investment firm, F6 Sports, signed an agreement with Gillett last month, which the company claims gives them an exclusive option to invest in the Premier League outfit. And Liverpool's American co-owner will fly to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to negotiate a fee.

If F6 purchase Gillett's full compliment of shares they will have to deal with his Anfield partner Tom Hicks if they want complete control, or work alongside the Texan.

Barry Didato, director of strategic investments for Prince Faisal's F6 Sports, told the BBC that negotiations with Gillett would take place next week and said: "His Highness's shareholding could go from anything from nought to 100%."

However, Gillett's fractious relationship with Hicks is a concern, as is the level of debt at the Premier League club.

Didato said: "He [Prince Faisal] cannot be seen as a solution to the debt or problems in the existing relationship between the owners. The debt has to be at a manageable level before Prince Faisal would invest and the current level is high.

"He cannot be looked to as someone who is going to clean up the balance sheet - Gillett has to deal with this."

When contact was first made with Gillett in September, Prince Faisal told Saudi Arabian media that the takeover deal could "be worth £200 million to £350 million" but F6 managing director Gassim Hamidaddin added that those figures "were not 100% accurate".

Regardless of the final amount, if the deal goes through it would provide a huge cash boost for Liverpool. Lack of funds means plans to build a new stadium in Stanley Park have been shelved and manager Rafael Benitez has reportedly fallen out with the board over his transfer budget on more than one occasion.

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