Could Saudi prince be answer to Liverpool FC's investment problems?
LIVERPOOL FC co-owner George Gillett faced protests from angry fans as he made a rare trip to the city over the weekend. Supporters from Reds’ union Spirit of Shankly (SOS) gave the US businessman a hostile reception as he visited training ground Melwood, the LFC academy and Anfield. Gillett was at Anfield to watch the Reds 6-1 drubbing of Hull on Saturday. And he was accompanied by a Saudi billionaire. Prince Faisal bin Fahad Bin Abdullah al Saud, who owns Sports Investment company F6, was pictured sitting alongside Gillett in the directors’ box. Their appearance sparked reports the Prince and Liverpool were on the verge of a massive deal that could see the Saudi take control of up to 50% of club shares in return for investment ranging from £200m to £350m. But sources claimed talk of the wealthy Saudi ploughing cash into the Reds was not on the agenda. Instead it was suggested Gillett invited Faisal in a bid to rubberstamp plans to set up Liverpool FC academies in the Middle East. Anfield bosses stressed privately talk of high-level investment and selling of club shares was wide of the mark. According to Liverpool sources matters of sponsorship and global branding were uppermost in the businessmen’s minds. Asked directly about speculation involving possible Saudi investment, a spokesman for the owners declined to comment. Relations between co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett who have had several major fall-outs since they took over in February 2007, are said to be more cordial than they were 18 months ago. And sources insisted the meeting between Gillett and the Prince was arranged with Hicks’s backing.
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