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'Big universe' of buyers interested in Reds
Published : 27 May 2010 18:30:00Rss feed
iverpool co-owner Tom Hicks says there is a large number of "interested buyers" in the club he and George Gillett put up for sale last month. Having leveraged huge debt on the club - parent company Kop Holdings' were £351million in the red last summer with annual loan repayments of £40million - the Americans decided to end their tumultuous reign at Anfield. Liverpool are up for sale with an asking price of between £600million to £800million. Those figures have hardly had investors knocking down the door of chairman Martin Broughton, who was appointed to oversee the process. However, Hicks, who yesterday suggested it could take between 12 and 18 months to sell the club, still believes there are plenty of candidates to take over. "Liverpool has a really big universe of interested buyers," said the Texan. "There are a number of wealthy people all over the world, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, who are enormous Liverpool fans." The 64-year-old admits he has had enough of owning clubs and sports franchises and is trying now to sell all his interests. His Texas Rangers baseball side filed for bankruptcy on Monday some 13 months after its parent, HSG Sports Group, defaulted on £360million of debt. The Dallas Stars ice hockey franchise is also being sold. Liverpool will be the last of his three main sports investments to be offloaded. And Hicks, who has been the target of a sustained and often vitriolic fans' campaign to sell up at Anfield, admits the high-profile nature of ownership had taken its toll. "Sports has never been my primary business," Hicks told Bloomberg BusinessWeek. "We are systematically selling our sports assets to focus on our core businesses like private equity and real estate. "The lack of privacy in sports is something that my family and I aren't willing to undertake any longer. "We'll always be big fans but we want our privacy back." Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish insists the club will not go backwards despite their current ownership issues and speculation about the futures of manager Rafael Benitez and star players Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. Former chairman David Moores yesterday gave a full and frank account of his reasons for selling to Hicks and Gillett, whose reign at Anfield has created only in-fighting and uncertainty. Torres did little to quell continuing speculation when he side-stepped questions about his future while Jose Mourinho, whose appointment as Real Madrid boss is imminent, has today spoken of his admiration for Gerrard, who turns 30 on Sunday. However, Dalglish said the club was bigger than any individual. "Liverpool FC is much more important than any one individual - it always has been and always will be," said the Reds former player and manager who now has an ambassadorial role with the club's academy. "It will move forwards and move upwards. "It is not the greatest time in the club's history at this time but I don't think they will start to go backwards." Two other Liverpool greats Alan Kennedy and John Aldridge have joined the growing calls for Hicks and Gillett to engineer a swift sale. Kennedy, a two-time European Cup winner, said the current state of uncertainty had affected the team this season, which saw Liverpool finish seventh - their worst league placing for 11 years. "We have to move on. We are stagnating and it has shown in the performances of the players, who have been disappointing as well," the 55-year-old told Sky Sports News. Former striker Aldridge was more outspoken, criticising Hicks and Gillett for loading huge debts on the club and dismissing the former's claims that Liverpool were in a better position now than they were three years ago. "Any club that is losing £110,000 a day (on loan repayments) is in big trouble - whether they are Liverpool or not," he said. "We are in a massive mess. It is ridiculous to say we are in a good situation - absolutely ludicrous." Mourinho did his bit to encourage any seeds of doubt which were growing in the mind of Gerrard about his future. "I like players in the final part of their careers," said the Portuguese. "I love to have some players who are 33 or 34 years old...they are players that you buy and you won't recover this money, but if they give you good performances for two or three years you've got your money's worth. "Both (Gerrard and Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard) are great players who always give everything."