The view from Liverpool: 'The city has had a long and glorious relationship with China. We are all excited'

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The Independent Football

As far as the red half of Liverpool is concerned this week, the phrase "better the devil you know" has, for the most part, simply ceased to exist.

Particularly when the devils in question are the American duo who own Liverpool Football Club, George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

The speculation that Hong Kong-based businessman Kenny Huang is on the verge of buying the Anfield club from them after three tumultuous and debt-burdened years is, to most fans, the greatest pre-season gift they could have been granted.

Forget the fact that they know little about Mr Huang – or any of the other potential bidders. For the time being, anybody has to be better than the current owners.

"As long as it gets the Yanks out," smiled Robert Kelly, a student aged 18, referring to Mr Gillett and Mr Hicks, the men responsible for plunging Liverpool into £350m worth of debt and reneging on their promise to build a new stadium.

"The damage they have done is going to take years and years to fix. Even if a new owner does come in, it will not solve all our problems because our squad is too weak. But it would be a start and something every fan is after."

In the city's Chinatown district – home to the oldest established Chinese community in Europe – the news has been greeted with excitement, hope and pride.

Speaking under the imposing Imperial Arch, the largest outside China and which colourfully welcomes visitors at the top of Nelson Street, local businessman Joe Wang believed he spoke for most of his community when discussing what impact a Chinese owner would have. "The sense of pride we would get from it would be amazing," he said.

"Liverpool and China have had a long and glorious relationship based on trade and on friendship. This would only strengthen that bond. It is all we have spoken about for days now. We are all very excited and hopeful."

Yet there remains, in some sections, a healthy Scouse cynicism about the events at Anfield.

Many are not willing to just throw themselves at the mercy of the first foreign businessman who shows an interest in them. That is how the club got in its current mess in the first place.

"We have been bitten once before and it still hurts," said Iwan Williams, 28. "We need to make sure that whatever deal is done is for the benefit of Liverpool Football Club and not Hicks and Gillett. They should not walk away from the situation they've created with a profit. It's important the board does the right thing and gets it right this time."

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