The consortium fronted by Yahya Kirdi, the Syrian businessman, last night appeared to move into pole position as the race to buy Liverpool gained momentum.
As the Merseyside club revealed it wanted at least two firm offers on the table by the end of the week, sources close to the group of investors from the Middle East and Canada, who are interested in buying out George Gillett and Tom Hicks, said an initial takeover deal could be signed by the time Liverpool launch their campaign against Arsenal on Sunday.
All parties, including Kirdi's group, Gillett and Hicks, and the Premier League, which now has tougher rules regarding the fit and proper person test, are said to be ready to gather before the weekend. The consortium, which has agreed to pay off all of Liverpool's debts to The Royal Bank of Scotland and Wells Fargo, hopes that a first contract will be signed at the weekend. In addition, the group is believed to be ready to fund the planned construction of a new stadium in Stanley Park.
The development came as Indian conglomerate Sahara Group, one of the parties expressing an interest in buying Liverpool, cooled their interest, while Chinese tycoon Kenny Huang has also made enquiries.
Martin Broughton, the chairman of Liverpool, wants interested parties to prove they have the funds to buy the club, and to table detailed offers by the end of this week.
The consortium led by Huang has said if its bid were successful it would pay off Liverpool's debts, invest in the playing squad, build a new stadium and launch a push to promote the club in Asia. It has not said how much its bid would be worth though it is believed to be well below the £600m-plus valuation Hicks and Gillett have put on the club. The group, which includes Huang's business partner Guang Yang and American sports consultant Marc Ganis, also denied speculation that one of its key funders is the China Investment Corporation – the investment arm of the Chinese government.
Rival bidder Kirdi is understood to be favoured by Hicks and Gillett because a bid from him would leave them with a higher pay-off.
There has also been clarification of Canada-based Kirdi's financial position, with the former Syria international said to be "well off" and not a billionaire as has been reported in the past.Reuse content