Liverpool price tag deters Kuwaitis

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A Kuwaiti investment consortium has said there is still a prospect of Liverpool's owners persuading them to buy the club, despite providing the most candid indication yet that Tom Hicks and George Gillett's £500m asking price is way above the odds.

The drawn-out saga surrounding an American sell-out is unlikely to conclude before July, when Hicks and Gillett must repay or refinance their £300m debt. The club may be in the hands of the banks and prospective buyers may find themselves talking to bankers, with a more modest valuation. Some City analysts believe that Hicks and Gillett will need to reduce the price to £300m, the level of their debt, to secure a sale. Though the Middle East has been affected by the global financial crisis, Kuwait, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia do remain possible sources of investment.

Hicks had been hopeful that the consortium, headed by Kuwait's Al-Kharafi family, might provide the necessary finance but Abdulla Al-Sager, who is among the potential investors and sat behind Hicks at the Liverpool v Chelsea match last month, said yesterday that "things are going really badly because they are asking for too much". Al-Sager, who was joined by Rafed Al-Kharafi, nephew of the family patriarch, at Anfield, added: "I don't think anything will happen unless we get a better price, but we are still talking."

Prospective investors do not tend to speak so baldly, though Al-Sager may have been seeking to draw attention to an asking price which Dubai International Capital also considered too high before withdrawing. A realisation that Hicks did not appear likely to sell in the medium term was the main reason for Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry's decision, taken a few days before the club's league match against Manchester City last month, to take leave.