Hodgson concentrates on game as Reds takeover takes a twist

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is concentrating on football despite all the debate over who will be the club’s new owners and he is eagerly anticipating what he regards as his “mini home debut” tonight.

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is concentrating on football despite all the debate over who will be the club’s new owners and he is eagerly anticipating what he regards as his “mini home debut” tonight.

The 62-year-old heads into his first match in charge at Anfield in the enviable position of having a 2-0 lead over Macedonians Rabotnicki from the first leg of their Europa League third qualifying-round tie.

Against that backdrop individuals and groups keen on taking control at Anfield are jostling for position as they try to steal a march on their rivals in the bidding to take over from Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Hodgson, however, is purely a football man and he will be watching intently tonight as he gives some of his big names a run-out as part of their pre-season preparations.

“I don’t get involved, I leave it to the people who know what they are doing,” said the former Fulham boss.

“I am looking forward to tonight and it would be foolhardy to say anything other than your first game at Anfield as manager will be a special occasion.

“It will be equally as special, if not more so for the first Premier League game because, with respect to Rabotnicki, it is not quite the same as Liverpool v Arsenal.

“I am lucky in that I will have a mini debut followed by a full debut and I am looking forward to it.

“But I don’t think there is any danger of complacency; I’m a new manager so the players have to impress on my how good they are.

“It would surprise me if you got any complacent performances at Anfield.

“We need to be more fearful of anxiety rather than complacency and although anxiety won’t be the case tonight in the future anxiety would worry me more than complacency.”

Yesterday the ownership battle took a new twist when Syrian businessman Yahya Kirdi, who represents a group of investors from the Middle East and Canada, claimed a price had been agreed and a formal purchase agreement “is in the final stage of negotiation”.

Much the same noises were made by Kirdi’s representatives in April and no deal was done, and he has been dealing with the American owners rather through Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton, who has been detailed to sell the club.

“The group is in advanced negotiations with Thomas Hicks and George Gillett, co-owners of Liverpool Football Club, to purchase 100% of the club,” said a statement from Kirdi.

“Agreement has been reached on all major terms including the purchase price, repayment of the existing bank debt from RBS and Wells Fargo and financing of a new stadium in Liverpool’s Stanley Park.

“A formal purchase agreement between the parties is in the final stage of negotiation.”

Just a few hours later Kenny Huang, who seemed to be leading the race to take over after going public on Monday, issued a statement clarifying his own position.

“Mr Huang would like to emphasise that he has registered interest in investing in Liverpool FC but has made no formal bid,” it said.

“There has been much speculation and commentary from a wide array of people, many of whom have little knowledge of the facts.

“Unless there is a statement that specifically comes from Mr Huang or his authorised representatives, which presently is solely Hill & Knowlton Hong Kong office, we would suggest such comments should be given little credence.”

Huang is reportedly being backed by China Investment Corporation, the country’s overseas investment arm.

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