It has all gone quiet in the corridors of power that run deep through Anfield. Ever since Hong Kong businessman Kenny Huang pulled out of the running as a contender to complete a buy-out of Liverpool FC last month, there has been little information released from the club’s press office regarding a takeover.
Current chairman Martin Broughton, brought in to oversee the sale of the famous club, is keeping a decidedly low profile, as the club’s supporters grow increasingly more anxious over the future of the Reds and their burdening debt.
In just 20 days, on 6 October, Liverpool co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks are required to repay their creditors, the Royal Bank of Scotland, loans totalling £285m. When deadline day arrives the Americans must have either sold the club, found new loans to finance their old ones or persuade RBS to extend the deadline once more. Alternatively, RBS can call in the debt and take temporary charge of the club until it is sold.
Broughton is currently overseeing the sale of the club along with investment bank Barclays Capital, who are advising in the sale. Despite this, Hicks has still been able to place an unrealistic £500m valuation on the club which so far has been refused to be matched by potential investors. RBS are clearly frustrated by the lack of developments, with the October deadline fast-approaching, and may look to take direct control over the sales process in a last-ditch bid to finalise a deal.
In the meantime however, the current much maligned five-man Liverpool board still retain control over evaluating all the offers and have so far been unable to conclude a takeover deal. The board initially wanted to conclude a deal before the end of last months’ transfer window but do not look any closer today to securing new investment. Broughton revealed last month:
“It still remains the objective to conclude a deal before the end of the transfer window.
“Any bids that go straight to RBS – and there have been several – come to me and are directed to Barcap,” Broughton said. “RBS are not involved. The control remains with the board.”
That was the last update Liverpool fans heard from Broughton as he revealed there were several offers on the boardroom table to be considered. The club have now spent five months looking for a buyer and given the lack of information from Broughton you wouldn’t bet on the Reds finding one over the next three weeks. Clearly the current offers submitted are not tempting enough for the club to sell and other potential investors may be waiting to see what happens on 6 October.
Should the club fail to find a buyer Hicks and Gillett will again attempt to refinance the debt and hang on until the club is sold at a price they can make a reasonable profit from. RBS would of course be more than happy to oblige given the amount of money they are making through interest. This would be the worst case scenario for the club and potential investors who are hoping RBS will force the Americans out and seize control of the club.
Should RBS take control they will be more interested in securing a deal at a cheaper price than the Americans for a quick return on their investment. This opens up more possibilities for the club in their quest for new owners and would remove the much despised Hicks and Gillett from the boardroom in a short space of time.
Fans should be careful what they wish for however and you wonder how much time, consideration and effort RBS would put into choosing the ideal candidate capable of building a bright new future for Liverpool. Ultimately the bank are likely only be interested in receiving the return of their investment as quickly as possible and will not care what the intentions of Liverpool’s potential list of new owners could be.
It seems as though the end of Hicks and Gillett’s desperate reign is slowly coming to its end as the deadline approaches, but Reds fans shouldn’t celebrate just yet, the future of Liverpool FC still hangs in the balance.