Gillett may thwart fans bid

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The Independent Online

The Liverpool fans' group established to turn the club into a Barcelona-style establishment run by supporters has received firm pledges totalling £47.5m with expressions of interest which could double that.

The initial take-up of the Share Liverpool FC group provides a 10th of £500m needed to see its vision of the club realised and a credible base for the organisation, which has engaged Cobbetts solicitors and has Phil Thompson and John Aldridge among voluble supporters. But the organisation, which has established a steering group with finance, law and marketing expertise, may quickly find itself over taken by events. There may be no major developments for several weeks in Dubai International Capital's (DIC) pursuit of the club but further evidence that George Gillett has made his decision has been provided by one of Tom Hicks' more improbable friends – the former Brighton manager and Liverpool player Jimmy Melia.

Melia, who has got to know Hicks while coaching youth sides in Texas for the past 18 years, accompanied the Amercian's son on his ill-fated trip to Anfield on Saturday and said yesterday: "Gillett looks like he's going to sell his share but I know Tom Hicks is going to hang in there and make it work."

The pre-emption rights which Gillett and Hicks would have signed up to when buying Liverpool mean that Gillett must discuss any sale with Hicks, and could be forced to sell to him. But if Hicks does not buy, as seems almost certain, Gillett is free to sell to DIC. The club's manager Rafael Benitez, meanwhile, said he will decide on the future of defender Sami Hyypia – outstanding in the continued absence through injury of Daniel Agger – later in the season.

"I am really pleased with him," Benitez said. "The question now is to see how he progresses, but he knows my thoughts. He doesn't have to prove anything."

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