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.

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
Review: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
Charlotte Brontë, the English novelist, poet and the eldest of the three Bronte sisters who lived into adulthood, has been celebrated with a Google Doodle depicting her most famous novel, Jane Eyre.
arts + ents "Reader, they doodled her".

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
News
People
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players