THE battle to take over the keys of Liverpool FC was thrown into confusion last night after a contrasting day of counter claims and denials from potential buyers.
Chinese businessman Kenny Huang began the day in pole position after admitting on Monday he had been locked in talks with the club’s major creditors, Royal Bank of Scotland, about taking over their £237m debt to them.
But Huang threw a spanner into the works yesterday insisting he has not made a formal bid for the club, but has simply “registered interest” in taking over from unpopular American duo George Gillett and Tom Hicks.
At the same time, Syrian businessman Yahya Kirdi, who represents a group of investors from the Middle East and Canada, was claiming he had agreed a price to take over at Anfield, saying he “is in the final stage of negotiation” with the club.
And the picture wasn’t made any clear by football financier Keith Harris, of investment bank Seymour Pierce, who admitted he too is representing a “very serious” bid to buy the club.
“All I am prepared to say is that we have looked at it very carefully on behalf of would-be buyers, who we know are very serious, we know are cash rich, we know have the right incentive and are prepared to take a long-term view,” Harris said.
Liverpool vowed to make a decision in the next ten days after they, and an estimated six interested parties, gave notice to the Premier League that a change in ownership may be imminent.
Huang was believed to be one of those potential investors, but seemed to take a step back yesterday when he denied making a formal offer.
“Mr Huang would like to emphasise that he has registered interest in investing in Liverpool FC but has made no formal bid,” he said a statement. “There has been much speculation and commentary from a wide array of people, many of whom have little knowledge of the facts.”
Kirdi, however, appeared to steal a march on his rivals by announcing the agreement yesterday, although he did make similar noises back in April when he claimed a deal had been done, but to no avail.
“The group is in advanced negotiations with Thomas Hicks and George Gillett, co-owners of Liverpool Football Club, to purchase 100 per cent of the club,” Kirdi insisted.
“A formal purchase agreement between the parties is in the final stage of negotiation.”