Dubai takeover on cards at Anfield

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The Independent Football

Liverpool's search for fresh investment, a three-year process that has unearthed interest in Thailand, America, Ireland, Spain and Scandinavia, appears to have secured a buyer. Dubai International Capital, the international investment arm of the Dubai government, is prepared to pay £450m for majority control of the Anfield club.

The Liverpool board has allowed DIC to commence a period of due diligence this week, which gives the company exclusive rights to assess the club's books and prevents any rival parties making a bid. The company outlined its intent in several meetings with the club's chief executive, Rick Parry, and agreed to the chairman, David Moores, staying as a director.

How a deal would affect Rafael Benitez's transfer budget, which the manager says must be increased to let the club compete with Chelsea and Manchester United, remains to be seen.

United, Chelsea, West Ham, Aston Villa and Portsmouth have come under foreign ownership in the past four years. The Liverpool deal would see billionaires from the Maktoum family which rules Dubai pay £200m towards the construction of a new 60,000-seater stadium and around £170m for majority control of the club. The buyers would also take on £80m of debt. The decision to meet Moores' asking price and allow the chairman to keep a reduced shareholding, maintaining his family's 50-year connection with Liverpool, has been instrumental in the success of the negotiations thus far.

Liverpool have rejected a similar offer from the American multimillionaire George Gillett Jnr and interest from three rival parties to allow DIC's interest to develop. Club officials, including Moores and Parry, who is expected to keep his job, will continue talks this week instead of travelling to Istanbul for the Champions' League meeting with Galatasaray.

The investment, which could bring Liverpool into conflict with Fifa, football's world governing body, which is keen to instil greater transparency in club ownership, should be completed early in the new year, provided no unforeseen problems materialise.

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