Banks ready to force sale of Liverpool this summer

Club's managing director admits that RBS may pull plug on American owners unless they secure £100m investment

Liverpool's pursuit of £100m in new investment is being carried out on the orders of the club's bankers, it emerged yesterday, and with the managing director admitting he cannot "guarantee" success, the genuine possibility is emerging of owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett being forced to sell up this summer.

Though it has been known for several months that MD Christian Purslow is seeking cash by selling equity to alleviate Liverpool's £237m debt, only yesterday, in the published minutes of a recent meeting between Purslow and the club's Spirit of Shankly (SoS) fans' group, bankers Wachovia and Royal Bank of Scotland's (RBS) express "requirement" of the new cash become clear.

The deadline for securing the £100m is July – when Hicks and Gillett must refinance their debts once again. Fail to find the cash and the Americans will be out of Anfield after a rocky and largely unhappy three years on Merseyside. The consequences of that for Liverpool could be defining ones – conceivably a fire sale of the club similar to the one which West Ham United have just undergone, with the attendant loss of money, elite players and status as a top side.

The pursuit of the investment seems to be proving more difficult than Purslow had originally foreseen, with initial hopes that a number of investors could be sought to secure the £100m in return for a 25 per cent share now giving way to the acceptance that no new investor will be prepared to lay out millions simply to take a minority stake in Liverpool. As The Independent reported on Monday, a 34 per cent stake seems to be the minimum a buyer will accept, with Hicks and Gillett owning 33 per cent each.

The picture is further complicated by the fact that Purslow firmly rejects SoS's minutes of their 21 January meeting with him, in which he portrayed RBS as extremely unhappy with Hicks and Gillett and keen to be rid of them. But even his less eye-catching account of the meeting confirms that securing £100m to reduce borrowings was agreed when he, a former merchant banker, was appointed last autumn. "There are now five or six potential investors with whom we are talking," the MD says in his own minutes. Purslow has rejected suggestions that the Americans are so desperate for cash that they are willing to sell 40 per cent of the club for £100m. Some prospective buyers may now be waiting for a fire sale, which would bring the price tumbling from the £500m offered by Dubai International Capital (DIC) two years ago – and which Hicks rejected.

Purslow's version of his disclosure to fans did not include their claims that he told them failure to qualify for next season's Champions League would damage the pursuit of investors. SoS said Purslow had told them: "The team's performance... is talked about by potential investors, as while we might make up the loss [of] Champions League revenue through a good run in the Europa Cup [sic], the loss of Champions League football next season would impact upon income and this has a relevance to investors."

Purslow's minutes also excluded the assertion that he told them RBS was "annoyed and unhappy" with Hicks and Gillett and "they want a change of ownership". SoS say he told them the club is for sale: "It will be sold. The owners have to sell it, they are out of money. The bank want it sold, the fans want it sold and people want to buy it."

Neither did the MD repeat the fans' claim that he told them that he expected a deal with new investors concluded "by Easter" with the initial expectation of something in place this month.

But Purslow, whose club yesterday agreed a three-year deal to sign Milan Jovanovic, the Standard Liège striker, on a free transfer in the summer, does paint a more rosy picture of the money available to Rafael Benitez in the transfer market than had been widely believed, suggesting that while there had been "plenty of funding available" last month, Benitez had "chosen not to bring in anyone other than Maxi Rodriguez, the Argentine international". That is not how Benitez has characterised things over the past few months, suggesting only last month that servicing the club's debt was now a bigger priority than buying players.

Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home