Thai leader ponders takeover at Anfield move

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The Independent Football

Liverpool declined to comment last night on reports that Thailand's billionaire Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, was planning an imminent bid for the club. Thaksin himself, who made an approach to Mohamed Al Fayed about buying Fulham last year, was also playing his cards close to his chest.

"I'd rather say nothing now," he said, but added that he wanted to help develop Thai football, perhaps by opening an academy. After being repeatedly pushed on when he would make a decision about whether to buy a club, he said: "I'm not a patient person. I don't like waiting."

Thaksin, 55, made his fortune after founding the Shinawatra Computer and Communications Group, Thailand's biggest telecommunications conglomerate. He was formerly a Lieutenant Colonel with the Royal Thai Police, and entered government as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1994.

His renewed interest in English football was made public by Thawatchai Satchakul, the manager of Thailand's national team who also advised Thaksin during his pursuit of Fulham.

"I believe the Prime Minister has already had his aides checking Liverpool's financial position in the past four to five months," Thawatchai said yesterday. "He is now in the process of deciding whether to bid for Liverpool."

Liverpool, who have become used to replying "no comment" when asked about their response to impatient fans, did just that yesterday when asked about Thaksin.

Thawatchai said: "His feeling now is similar to that five or six months ago when Fulham was in the picture. If you visualised him going shopping in a store, I would say the Prime Minister's eyes are now fixed on Liverpool. [He wants] a bigger club [than Fulham]."

In order to take control at Anfield, Thaksin would need to buy out the stake of Liverpool's chairman, David Moores, who owns a 51 per cent share estimated to be worth around £40m. The Moores family are behind Littlewoods football pools and department stores and have had a controlling interest in the club for 50 years.

Moores has already admitted that he would consider his position if Liverpool's wait for trophies goes on much longer. Aside from what to do with the manager, the question on the minds of Liverpool fans now is what he will say if asked to sell. Yes, Prime Minister?