Liverpool’s suitors Dubai International Capital were awaiting developments this morning following their latest attempt to take over the club.
DIC – the investment arm of the Dubai government – yesterday made a £400m offer to buy out American co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
With Hicks having indicated a strong desire to retain his 50% stake, the key to the balance of power would appear to rest with Gillett.
Selling his share to DIC would net him a £25m profit on his investment but Hicks, who is believed to have first option, could also buy him out to take total control.
Hicks has not formally rejected DIC’s offer but a source close to the Texan has told PA Sport his position remains as entrenched as ever.
Hicks is only interesting in dealing with parties which would allow him to retain the majority shareholding.
Yet should Gillett choose to work with DIC, who have no interest in joint control with Hicks, the club could be left in a difficult position with opposing parties owning each half.
Whether or not it would come to that, however, is doubtful as sources close to DIC, Hicks and Gillett have suggested a deal must be worked out soon.
The American pair face a difficult short-term future following their recent refinancing of the funds they used to buy the club 13 months ago.
That package loaded £105m of debt onto the club, of which £60m is earmarked to kickstart the club’s new stadium development.
It is also anticipated that they will soon need to return to the banks to ask for a further £300m in loans to cover the rest of the project in Stanley Park.
It is believed DIC turned their attention to Gillett after finding Hicks an immovable object in negotiations.
“It’s no secret that we have been in discussions with the current owners,” DIC chief executive Sameer Al-Ansari said.
“It’s not easy because the owners are in dreamland about valuations at the moment.”
Al-Ansari later clarified that one of the club’s owners “had come out of dreamland”, without giving further details, although it seems unlikely he was referring to Hicks.
Should Gillett decide to sell, it is thought Hicks would have 90 days to exercise his option to buy.
Hicks has already said it is “premature” to say he has already raised the money with loans from American business colleagues.
DIC may have to accept that Hicks cannot sell at the moment because he is raising money in the US by floating his entire sports empire – Dallas Stars, Texas Rangers and Liverpool.
Meanwhile, Share Liverpool FC, the fans’ organisation set up with the intention of raising £500million to buy the club, insists DIC’s offer will not prevent them pushing forward.
The group hope to attract 100,000 people willing to invest £5,000 each to run Liverpool along similar lines to other member-run sides such as Barcelona.
The initiative’s founder, Dr Rogan Taylor said: “We will continue to monitor this situation but it won’t lessen the effort and commitment we are putting into our serious and robust proposal.
“We would like to see the fans have a full and proper say in the running of their club. We are ready to talk to the owners about making that a reality.
“I strongly believe that Share Liverpool FC will have a significant role to play – we have strong momentum and fans are joining by the hundreds on a daily basis.”