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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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NESV has no intention of losing Liverpool to Lim

ESPNsoccernet can disclose New England Sports Ventures (NESV) has a watertight contract to purchase Liverpool and has no intention of relinquishing that right despite a late attempt from Singapore businessman Peter Lim to launch a rival takeover bid.

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• Premier League gives go-ahead
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The Liverpool board has agreed to sell the club to NESV for £300 million but their ability to do so has been challenged by co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Tuesday's High Court hearing will help to determine whether the takeover has the legal basis to reach completion.

But Lim, who is being advised by the British firm of lawyers Macfarlanes and by the Wong Partnership of Singapore, is preparing a rival offer and hopes to outbid NESV to take control of Liverpool.

It is understood that Lim's interest forced NESV to increase its original offer last week, leading the group, fronted by John W Henry, to emerge as the favoured party. Lim believes his offer was at least as attractive as that on the table from the owners of the Boston Red Sox.

It is being reported by the BBC that Lim was told Liverpool's board was concerned that NESV would have to borrow to finance the takeover. But Henry's group has insisted it will not load up the Premier League side with debt.

The American group's £300 million agreement is signed and sealed, pending High Court hearings this week which will address the issue of whether chairman Martin Broughton and the board had the authority to sell the club against the wishes of the co-owners, who stand to lose £144 million if the NESV deal goes through.

Clearly Lim is looking closely at the opportunity that might arise if Hicks should win his court case, nullifying the NESV deal, and the club ends up in administration on Friday, when the deadline expires for the Americans to repay Royal Bank of Scotland £237 million.

Lim owns several Manchester United-themed bars in Asia and according to Forbes magazine is said to have a £1 billion fortune.

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