An investment group supported by the Chinese state government is attempting to purchase Liverpool for £700million, The Independent can reveal.
It has emerged that Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group have been aware of the proposal from SinoFortone since March.
SinoFortone, who are fronted by managing director Peter Zhang, has committed £5.2billion towards new projects in the UK over the last 12 months.
They have already explored the potential of building a new stadium in the dockland area of Liverpool, appreciating that Anfield’s new main stand will be completed in September.
Their plans also involve the redevelopment of the club’s training ground at Melwood and the installation of a series of football academies across China.
It is believed that Fenway, who are led by John W. Henry, are reluctant to sell Liverpool at this moment and have been unreceptive to the approach.
While the Premier League’s new television rights deal potentially increases the value of all English top flight clubs to unprecedented levels, there is a confidence within FSG that Jürgen Klopp will lead Liverpool into a new era of sporting prosperity, an era, indeed, the current owners would like to be around for.
SinoFortone are also thought to be open to the idea of part-investment in Liverpool, offering FSG a medium to long-term exit strategy. This might appeal more to key yet ageing figureheads like Henry and chairman Tom Werner, who will both turn 67 at their next birthdays.
The bidder specialises in large-scale infrastructure projects, building roads, railways, airports, seaports and power stations across China and the Middle East.
In March SinoFortone agreed a green energy and affordable housing scheme investment with the Scottish government. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon signed off the contract, which might eventually be worth £10bn. She was later accused by opposition parties of misleading Scots over the secrecy around the agreement, which also involved the China Railway Group.
Last year, during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Britain, SinoFortone committed £2bn towards two eco-parks in north and south west Wales, which will see two biomass power stations built in Anglesey and Port Talbot.
Liverpool players who could leave this summer
Liverpool players who could leave this summer
1/6 Christian Benteke
The obvious place to start. Even in the early days, when he was at least scoring intermittently, last summer’s marquee signing has looked out of place at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp quite patently does not fancy him as anything but a ‘Plan B’. Liverpool would be wise to cash in on the Belgian before his market value falls through the floor.
2/6 Alberto Moreno
The Spaniard must hate those 45 minutes he spends every week playing along the same touchline that his manager is standing on. Klopp bawling at Moreno, infuriated by his poor positioning and lapses in concentration, has become a regular sight at Anfield. Of all the players he inherited from Brendan Rodgers, the left-back seems to test Klopp’s patience the most and he’ll need to improve dramatically if he is to keep his starting berth for next season.
3/6 Simon Mignolet
It's hard to tell whether Mignolet has won Klopp over, whether he's still got something to prove or whether his goose is cooked. The five-year contract he signed in January seemed to suggest that he'd be in between the sticks for at least another season but his performances have not deserved such confidence. Was the new deal a way of bumping up his market value before a better, more reliable 'keeper comes in? Maybe. The Belgium international has the rest of the season to prove that the starting berth should be his and his alone.
4/6 Joe Allen
All set for a new contract before Rodgers’ departure, the ‘Welsh Xavi’ now looks to be on his way out. His current deal expires in the summer of 2017 and, since Klopp’s arrival, his role has been scaled back to ‘squad player’. Is a return to former club Swansea City on the cards?
5/6 Jordon Ibe
Questions remain over whether the youngster has what is required to establish himself at Anfield. Moments of match-winning quality have been brief, disappointing and ineffective cameos far too frequent. He’s the only player in the squad to resemble a traditional winger and Klopp appears to prefer his wide-men to cut inside.
6/6 Martin Skrtel
Surely the Slovakian’s Liverpool career is on its last legs? He has suffered from a ‘boom and bust’ cycle, almost ever since arriving at Anfield, with each competent season followed by a terrible one. His saving grace might be that his performances this year have been so poor that, by the same logic, he should dramatically improve next term - but can that really be the basis for another year at the club?
SinoFortone has earmarked a substantial sum towards the London Paramount Entertainment Resort, which is due to open in Dartford, Kent, in 2021. It is also involved in the proposed Crossrail 2 rail line running through London into Hertfordshire as well as the building of new metro systems in Abu Dhabi and Kuwait.
Liverpool is thought to be an attractive proposition to SinoFortone, not least because of the club’s history and reasonable current standing, but also because the city is home to Europe’s oldest Chinese community.
In April, work on the £200m New Chinatown project began less than a mile away from Liverpool’s city centre. The development will include 850 new houses, 150,000 square feet of commercial and retail space, and a new hotel.
Though SinoFortone are not behind this project, its plans were presented to President Xi’s delegation during his visit to Manchester last October.
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