City cash brings Dubai group nearer to Liverpool takeover

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The Tom Hicks camp at Liverpool are known to feel a sense of frustration and helplessness at Abu Dhabi wealth being ploughed into Manchester City while the Dubai consortium with similar ambitions for Anfield believe City's buyout could clear the way for them.

Dubai International Capital (DIC) believe that Hicks and his co-owner George Gillett would be unable to maintain their financial grip on Liverpool without the minimum £25m delivered by Champions League group stage qualification.

With City's new-found wealth creating even more competition for next season's tournament the prospect of their bankers – Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Wachovia – granting a six-month extension to their loan in January is by no means certain.

RBS will be left in no doubt about supporters' feelings on the issue, with the Spirit of Shankly (SOS) group urging fans to boycott the bank unless they stop providing support to Hicks and Gillett. They are ready to urge Liverpool supporters to close any accounts they have with them, should they renew the loan on 25 January 2009.

It remains unclear whether the increased risk of non-qualification may affect RBS's thinking. The qualification money delivers two-thirds of Hicks and Gillett's interest bill and it is difficult to see where they would find that money from if they were deprived of Champions League football next season. City's wealth – which the Hicks camp accept they cannot match – has compounded another difficult period for them, with the narrow qualification against Standard Liège on penalties last week a matter of huge significance.

For Liverpool fans, the timing of City's windfall has been grim – 72 hours after Hicks and Gillett declared that they were being forced to delay construction of the club's new 60,000-capacity stadium at Stanley Park. There has been a multitude of agonies for Liverpool. City's new owner, Sheikh Mansour, a member of the Al Nahyan royal family of Abu Dhabi, is married to the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum – the man on whose behalf DIC have been operating.

Amanda Staveley, of London-based PCP Capital Partners, has acted for Manchester City in the Abu Dhabi deal and remains DIC's negotiator in the proposed Liverpool purchase. Matters have been low key over the close season but DIC have been in regular contact with both the Hicks and Gillett camps. The delay has been compounded by Gillett's need to attend to financial business of his own in the US. "The Liverpool situation is ongoing," Staveley said.

The failure to land Gareth Barry this summer illustrated the difficulty Hicks and Gillett have had raising funds, but the stadium project has always been considered the true test of their financial means.

Hicks has gone to great lengths to say that he and Gillett can raise the £300m needed to build the stadium and that it would not be derailed by the credit crunch. But the statement he issued last week contradicted this. "Global market conditions" had been the deciding factor, it said.

RBS will be aware of the £400m DIC bid on the table and, as the Americans' banker, can order them to accept it.

Comments