The Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett have played down reports that Saudi prince Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah was planning to take a significant stake in the club.
“We are currently seeking to buy 50% of the shares in the club which is now suffering of debts worth £245m,” said the prince, who is the chief executive of F6, a marketing and investment company in Saudi Arabia, and chairman of a holding company called Fama Group. “The transaction, upon which a decision is close to be reached, will be worth £200m to £350m.”
However, sources close to the Liverpool owners, plus Anfield officials, insist the Saudi’s interest amounts to no more than an agreement with Gillett to sponsor the club’s intended youth academies in the Middle East.
A spokesman for Fama confirmed that is the case. “What I know is that the prince attended the Liverpool game against Hull and signed yesterday an agreement with Liverpool to build a sport academy in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Prince Faisal is the latest businessman to be linked with investing in Liverpool and, despite the doubts over his ability to purchase a 50% stake, his appearance at Anfield this weekend for Liverpool’s game against Hull has raised fresh questions over the relationship between Hicks and Gillett. The pair were reported to have repaired their soured relationship prior to renegotiating a refinancing package with the Royal Bank of Scotland in July. However, they are continuing to pursue their own plans for the future.
Hicks has employed Merrill Lynch to locate a minority shareholder to Liverpool and values a 25% stake at £100m. Gillett has instructed Rothschild to pursue a similar goal. Neither Gillett or Hicks can sell their 50% stake without the permission of the other.
Hicks or Gillett would have to step aside for Prince Faisal to become a co-owner of Liverpool and, at present, both camps insist they have a long-term commitment at Anfield.