China in pole position to buy Liverpool

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China in pole position to buy Liverpool
“Chairman Mao has never seen a greater show of Red strength.”
If he were still alive, then he might be about to.
Bill Shankly’s address to the masses after Liverpool’s return home from defeat in the 1971 FA Cup final is one of the most iconic moments in English football history, and was typical of the man. It was witty, entirely in touch with the people of Liverpool and had a key reference to the wider world. Thirty-nine years later, both Mao’s world and his are about to collide.
The Chinese Government are backing tycoon Kenny Huang’s bid to take over Liverpool Football Club.
In a dramatic change of fortunes, the Reds could soon go from one of the most debt-ridden clubs in European football to one of the richest should Huang and the China Investment Corporation (CIC) complete a takeover in the coming days.
CIC was created three years ago with the remit to invest billions of dollars overseas for the benefit of the state. They are believed to possess around $332.4billion to spend on overseas assets, and they own 17.9% of Songbird, the owner of Canary Wharf. CIC state that they are free from political interference.
Unlike the takeovers of Manchester City and Chelsea, where extremely wealthy owners view the clubs as trophy assets – pouring money in without expecting any reward – Liverpool would be expected to make money for the Chinese Government. With a vast fanbase already established in China, and a new shirt sponsor, Standard Chartered – a British bank which commands a massive chunk of the Asian market – it looks to be a marriage made in heaven.
This takeover wouldn’t just see Liverpool able to compete with the richest clubs in the world, it could see their wealth dwarf them.
A summer transfer budget of £150million has already been mooted, with new boss Roy Hodgson sure to welcome the opportunity to bid for the best players as he continues to reshape the squad he inherited from Rafael Benitez.
Hodgson was given assurances that his position at the club would not come under pressure at the event of a takeover, and the veteran boss has always been fully expecting the club to change hands.
It must be stressed though, that the takeover is still in its preliminary stages, and there are other suitors for the Reds.
Syrian tycoon Yahya Kirdi’s claim yesterday that he was in “advanced discussions” to buy the club has been widely discredited, and it is believed that he has only held talks with co-owner Gillett, who only holds one vote of the five on Liverpool’s board, as does Tom Hicks. The other three are held by chairman Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre, and they are all likely to vote the same way, with Broughton the main man.
A New York-based equity firm and a wealthy Kuwaiti family have also been mooted as potential bidders, but it is looking increasingly likely that the Chinese option would be the best way for the Reds to go.
The city of Liverpool holds a long standing affinity with China.
The Chinatown district is the second-oldest in the Western world and houses a huge festival every Chinese New Year. Cantonese regularly mixes with Scouse on the streets of the city and the University of Liverpool set up a sister establishment in Xi’an Jiaotong, on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, in 2006. The Beatles and the success of Liverpool FC have long seen the relationship blossom from east to west.
It would blossom even more if Huang and company were successful, but caution must be extended.
He’s staying silent on the claims of CIC’s involvement, for now, but what is clear is that the China deal would have the potential to restore the club to their former glories.
Shankly may have referred to Mao all those years ago, but it now falls to another chairman to make what could be the biggest decision in Liverpool’s history.
Broughton holds the key, and there are increasing reasons to suggest that the Far East is the direction for him to go.
If he does, it could be the beginning of even greater shows of Red strength than even Shankly witnessed.



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