It is believed that at the present time the process for Liverpool Football Club to find new owners, to replace American’s Tom Hicks & George Gillett, has taken a significant step forward. The English Premier League have now been contacted by Liverpool Football Club and a number of interested investors, including Kenny Huang, to alert them that a change of ownership at the club could be imminent.
Under the so called post-Portsmouth rules, the English Premier League have to be given 10 days’ notice of any takeover, the prospective owners are also required to have a face-to-face meeting with the league chiefs to convince them enough finance is in place to support the club for the forthcoming season.
The formerly known and much criticised Premier League club owners ‘Fit & Proper Persons Test’ has been rethought, redesigned and renamed as the ‘Owners & Directors Test’. The new revision includes such changes as anyone barred from other sporting organisations or competitions will not be allowed to be a club director, clubs have to provide evidence every quarter that they are up to date with tax payments to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and they give permission for HMRC to give details on any non-payment directly to the league so they are alerted to a possible problem as much in advance as possible.
Richard Scudamore, Premier League Chief Executive said: ”
We believe we have the measures now in place, the early warning system, that will reduce the risk of having a repeat of the Portsmouth situation.” he added, “The objective of the Premier League is to reduce risk and try to prevent the worst happening but we can’t eliminate risk entirely as that would involve us interfering as shadow directors in the running of clubs.”
Should the outline of the the deal currently being negotiated by Kenny Huang and his Far East Sovereign Wealth Fund partners, be as accurate as described, then the deal being concluded would make Liverpool the wealthiest club in world football, beyond the realms of even Manchester City, with the funding that they would have access to. It is believed that one of the major interests to Huang is the ability to open Liverpool Football Club to the Eastern markets, currently unexploited and take them on to a level of brand and support previously unseen in football. A market that would also have major appeal to Liverpool’s new sponsors Standard Chartered, who list Asia as one of their primary focuses.
In many ways, if Huang continues to lead the race for ownership of the Kop, it maybe seen as somewhat of hostile takeover. Some of the tactics he is being credited as cleverly using, no doubt are a major irritant to the present custodians and would leave them far from the profit they wished to walk away with from the deal. While other interested parties continue to be mentioned as being possible candidates, such as The Rhone Group (leveraged buy out specialists like Hicks & Gillett), Syrian Yahya Kirdi and formerly interested Dubai International Captial (DIC), Huang and his partners remain the seemingly only credible source of purchase, as well as the most favourable one, to many financial professionals in the field.
For the Premier League to be contacted and provided with the 10 days notice that they require as part of their process, Liverpool must remain confident of a deal being concluded within that period of time. Whether Huang succeeds in his bid remains to be seen, as does just how much H&G walk away with at the end of the day. 6 votes make up the Anfield board, how those votes are cast over the next 10 days will continue to remain just a little interesting.