Thai PM happy to hedge bets

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The Independent Online

Sceptics who thought Thaksin Shinawatra's devotion to Liverpool was banknote thin were apparently proved right yesterday when the Thai prime minister was nonchalant that his chances of buying into the club had been reduced to "50-50". Thaksin stated those odds after the property magnate Steve Morgan unveiled his own plans to inject capital at Anfield.

Sceptics who thought Thaksin Shinawatra's devotion to Liverpool was banknote thin were apparently proved right yesterday when the Thai prime minister was nonchalant that his chances of buying into the club had been reduced to "50-50". Thaksin stated those odds after the property magnate Steve Morgan unveiled his own plans to inject capital at Anfield.

"If we do not get it, never mind," Thaksin said, talking about the possibility that his £60m bid to buy a 30 per cent share in Liverpool might fail. "We will go for other [clubs]. We have alternatives in mind. We have choice number two, number three and number four."

Morgan's allegiance is undoubted. He stressed yesterday that if his offer to Liverpool did not work out, he would not, as a lifelong Liverpool fan, be offering his cash elsewhere. Thaksin's main aim is to be associated with any club that can be used to sell Thai products.

Fans are unlikely to be impressed that a potential major shareholder has alternatives stacked up. Thaksin had previously coveted Fulham, and, according to reports in Thailand, Leeds.

During his courting of Liverpool's chief executive, Rick Parry, earlier this week, Thaksin made much of his admiration for the club rather than concede he is simply trying to gain electoral popularity by association ahead of an election. His devotion did not seem wholly convincing as he struggled to answer reporters' queries about his favourite players. Michael Owen's name finally emerged, followed by a pause. He then said: "and Baros, and many others, many others."

Liverpool have declined to discuss the offers from either Thaksin or Morgan but the issue is sure to be top of the agenda at the board meeting today. The key figures in attendance will be Parry, the club chairman, David Moores (who owns 51 per cent), the finance director Les Wheatley, and the directors Noel White and Keith Clayton.

Sources in Thailand claim a memorandum of agreement with Thaksin is already signed. Adverse publicity and Morgan's new offer might yet render that meaningless.

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