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Liverpool deal 'months away' say Saudi investment group

THE SAUDI group interested in buying a 50 per cent stake in Liverpool has distanced itself from a deal, saying any agreement would take months to thrash out.<br /><br />F6, an investment vehicle owned by Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah, has emerged as a potential major shareholder after agreeing a separate commercial tie-up with Reds co-owner George Gillett. That deal concerns setting up Liverpool academies in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as introducing NASCAR-type racing, in which Gillett has an involvement, to the Gulf.<br /><br />But despite Prince Faisal himself saying he would pay between &pound;200m and &pound;350m for half of the club, and the Liverpool owners&rsquo; eagerness to attract investment, F6 director Barry Didato played down the prospect of an imminent deal.<br /><br />&ldquo;As far as investment in Liverpool is concerned, that would be a long way off,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;A lot of people have jumped the gun and any possible investment would be several months away. The agreement signed leaves the door open for it, but that was certainly not the focus of it.&rdquo;<br /><br />Gillett and co-owner Tom Hicks said on Tuesday they had retained Bank of American Merrill Lynch and Rothschild to advise on possible investments. But Gillett yesterday said last weekend&rsquo;s meeting with Prince Faisal and F6 was nothing to do with selling shares.<br /><br />&ldquo;We had a marvellous meeting with them on Saturday and they were impressed with the club, but the academies in Saudi Arabia and North Africa and their possible involvement in NASCAR-type racing in the Middle East were the only items on the agenda,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Liverpool are some &pound;245m in the red, and Didato added: &ldquo;Another issue is the club&rsquo;s debt. Prince Faisal will not put forward investment capital to just clean up a balance sheet. He would only want to use money to take the club forward.&rdquo;