Alonso talks up Liverpool's 'traditions'

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The Independent Online

Xabi Alonso believes the Dubai consortium planning a Liverpool takeover must protect the traditions and heritage of the five-times European Cup winners.

Dubai International Capital, the financial arm of the Maktoum family who rule the Middle East state, is conducting due diligence - scrutiny of the club's books - ahead of a potential £500m buyout. Alonso, who has been at Anfield only two years, is already acutely aware of the pride and history that surround England's most successful club.

He said: "It will be a good next step for us but Liverpool has always had respect and pride in their traditions. For so many years the club has been winning trophies. It is important to have money, but it is also important to respect those traditions. I've realised in my few years here that everyone is so proud of the history."

Alonso added: "We must think about that and keep them while trying to improve the club. That would be the best way for the players and supporters. If the takeover is good for the club then obviously I am happy. It's not done yet, but really close.

"Some of the players here have been in Liverpool for a long time and they understand what Liverpool means to the people, the city, the whole area. The new players also understand that commitment and I am sure anyone who comes to Liverpool will see this. I am sure new people will see the good things at the club."

The Football Association will not get involved in takeover talks. Should the deal eventually go through, the Merseyside giants would become the seventh Premiership team to be controlled by a foreign owner, following Chelsea, Manchester United, Portsmouth, Aston Villa, Fulham and West Ham.

Although the club's manager, Rafael Benitez, has welcomed the development, it has received criticism from Uefa. William Gaillard, a spokesman for European football's governing body, while not condemning the concept of foreign nationals owning clubs, expressed concern about the impact an increasing number of "super-rich" teams would have on the competitiveness of domestic leagues.

For the FA, the matter is straightforward. Unlike in Spain, where clubs tend to be owned by the supporters, football clubs in England have traditionally been owned by individuals or a small number of directors. And the feeling inside Soho Square is that is would be "utterly impossible" to discriminate against any potential owner on the grounds of nationality.

Although there are some thorough "fit and proper person" regulations in place which apply to any individual owning more than a 33 per cent stake in a club, they relate generally to previous instances of fraud or whether someone has been banned from being a director of a company.

Such rules are hardly relevant to Sheikh Mohammed, the world's fifth-richest man and head of the DIC consortium, leaving him clear to complete the deal.

With DIC accountants now studying Liverpool's financial affairs, it could be another three weeks before there are any major developments.

Benitez has already been warned not to expect any extra cash to spend during next month's transfer window, although reinforcements were anticipated anyway as Liverpool look to improve their domestic form after an inconsistent start to the season.

Elsewhere, the Internazionale coach, Roberto Mancini, says Chelsea and Lyon are the teams to avoid in the last 16 of the Champions' League.

Inter finished second in Group B after they drew 1-1 with Bayern Munich on Tuesday, Patrick Vieira scoring in stoppage time to cancel out Roy Makaay's 62nd-minute goal for the home side.

"It would certainly be better to avoid Lyon and especially Chelsea when the draw is made," Mancini said. "Both are excellent sides. We would also have the disadvantage of playing the return leg away from home."

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