Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has moved a step closer to selling the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball franchise in a move that could free up funds for his indebted Premier League club.
Hicks found a number of interested bidders for the Rangers, and late on Tuesday night selected a group led by Pittsburgh lawyer Chuck Greenberg to enter exclusive negotiations.
Hicks now has 30 days to agree a deal with Greenberg before submitting plans to MLB for approval. The banks that hold Hicks' debt must also approve any sale.
The deal would see the Hicks family retain a small share of the team. No price has been revealed, but it is estimated the Rangers could fetch up to £300 million.
``Our family has chosen to negotiate with the group we believe will be best to protect and ensure the long-term positive future of this franchise,'' Hicks said in a statement that appeared on the Rangers website.
``We understand that this is more than a transaction. You never really own a baseball team; you just have the right to be the trustee of a public institution.''
Hicks has been working since last spring to sell the Rangers due to the debts held by his Hicks Sports Group, which defaulted on debts attached to the Rangers and Dallas Stars National Hockey League franchise back in May.
Hicks also has significant debts attributed to his co-ownership of Liverpool with George Gillett.
Earlier this month, Gillett completed a deal to sell the Montreal Canadiens NHL franchise but is yet to invest any of the £333 million that deal reaped into Liverpool.
The Anfield club's debts are estimated to stand at around £240 million, and manager Rafael Benitez last week suggested they were hampering Liverpool's ability to compete.
Despite selling their other sporting interests, it is reported that Hicks and Gillett are continuing to seek investors in Liverpool.