Gillett desperate to block Chinese bid for Liverpool FC

As the fourth pre-season under American ownership draws to a close Liverpool fans are still wondering just when ‘Snoogy Doogy’ might turn up to play in the new stadium that was supposed to open this month.

George Gillett and Tom Hicks make up the ownership ‘team’ at Anfield, allowed in practically unhindered by supporters – and the previous shareholders – because they were going to bring the stadium that would bring in Snoogy after Doogy. They were going to do this without putting any debt on the club.

In August 2010 Liverpool fans would be talking excitedly about what kind of view their new seat in the new stadium would give them, some of those fans in possession of a season ticket for the first time thanks to the increased capacity, which in July 2007 was hoped to be as high as 76,000 by the time the stadium opened. Over 30,000 extra seats and vastly improved corporate facilities would, with lucrative naming rights in place, bring in the kind of income that would give the owners their return whilst giving fans the chance to see their side compete on a level footing with their competitors at the top end of the table. The stadium would look brilliant; the good days would be back.

Cue the sound of the needle slipping off a vinyl record.

It is August 2010, but there is no new stadium. Anyone in possession of a season ticket for the first time got it because someone else gave theirs up in disgust – disgust at the thought of their hard-earned money paying off interest on debt Tom and George never mentioned back in the days of Snoogy Doogy promises. Players have to be sold before players can be bought, but most of the money from sales is never seen again anyway. Liverpool haven’t even spent £5m on transfers this summer, yet got more than that from the sale of just one player, Yossi Benayoun. Joe Cole may well turn out to be a Snoogy Doogy for the club – but he’d never have arrived had he still been under contract.

Tom Hicks and George Gillett, owners, Liverpool Football ClubThose four summers under the Americans have included four pre-season training camps – and this one was the first one attended by either owner. Most of the big names were missing because of their involvement in the World Cup, but George Gillett still went to Bad Ragaz.

What a boost to morale the sight of Gillett must have been. At least his presence gave them something to laugh at. One example was recounted in the local Liverpool press at the weekend, a short tale about a squad member being stopped by the 70-year-old and asked for help. The grumpy old man was looking at the mountain bikes lined up outside and – according to the report – wanted to have a go of one. Just one problem: “Could you possibly tell me, which is the bike belonging to Jay?” the old man asked. He was talking about young midfielder Jay Spearing, but why did he want his bike in particular? “He’s a little guy like me; all the others are too big for me to ride.”

It’s a laughable tale for all kinds of reasons, including the impression it gives that it was someone asking for help because he was short of attention.

But the fact he was in Bad Ragaz at all screams of the little man looking for attention.

Liverpool had a game arranged against a team from Saudi Arabia. Gillett had been on a jaunt around Saudi last season after inviting a Saudi “Prince” to sit in the posh seats at Anfield. Photos were taken of George and the Prince in the director’s box, in the boardroom and on the pitch. Claims were made – and later strongly denied by the club – that the Prince was going to be putting his hand in his pocket to take a share of the club. Then in Saudi there were more photos as George met people who turned out not to have anything like the kind of money needed to get involved at Anfield. But the photos made it look like he was making serious efforts to find investment. And by making sure he was in Switzerland in time to see a shadow squad take on a side from Saudi he expected to be in more photos alongside more mystery Saudi figures and in a position to leak more suggestions that he had some serious investors lined up.

That idea was lost in a torrent of rain that saw the game called off. But the rain didn’t wash away his problems.

He knew that Martin Broughton had come to the club in good faith to oversee a sale process. RBS had extended the finance long enough to see that through, Broughton would ensure that the sale was as good as possible not only for the owners and their finances but also for the club. Broughton made it clear the highest bidder might not be the best – and therefore winning – bidder. He made it clear there was no reserve price.  He dismissed the claims of Tom Hicks that the club should sell for around £800m.

Broughton was heading towards deadlines he’d set for bids to come in, he wanted the process over and done with by the end of August. Gillett certainly didn’t, not at the kinds of prices he knew would be bid.

Gillett had enough time to plan his trip to Switzerland and the potential photo opportunities; it was only the rain he had no way of accounting for. But when he found out without any warning that a genuine serious investor had bypassed him completely and gone straight to RBS he wouldn’t have had any time to plan his moves.

That happened last week, as alluded to on Anfield Road on Saturday night and broken in detail in The Times on Sunday night. Kenny Huang was trying to buy the club – but Hicks and Gillett weren’t going to get anything like the profit they’d been hoping for, if any.

Gillett and Kirdi (pic: Road had learned he had told the chairman and the bank he had a serious bidder lined up, a tale he only thought to tell after he found Kenny Huang had met RBS with his offer. It sounded like the old man was in a panic. The serious bidder was named as Yahya Kirdi, the man billed as a “former Syrian international” when he was first got linked with the club in April.

That link was shortly after Martin Broughton had been brought in to sell the club. The Syrian was represented by former Celtic player Andy Lynch amidst claims he had the backing of mystery Middle East billionaires. He disappeared almost as quickly as he arrived, the suggestion being he hadn’t the desire let alone the means to make a serious bid for Liverpool FC.

But George Gillett seems to have a short memory – he blamed Tom Hicks for his own comments about getting a shovel in the Stanley Park ground within 60 days of takeover – so perhaps he forgot about all this when he needed a name to throw at RBS and Martin Broughton.

But the desperation that panicked him into that moment of madness is far from over. Anfield Road has been informed that Gillett has tasked journalists in China and the US to dig the dirt on the man who looks like scuppering his plans for an undeserved windfall on the sale of the club. If he can sew just enough seeds of doubt in the minds of the decision makers he’ll feel this bid will fall through. The suggestion is that he’s trying to stall the sale process, including the work being done by BarCap with Martin Broughton – until the expiry of the current finance deal in October. At that point he’ll no doubt tell RBS about other serious bidders he has in the pipeline, and how he needs just that little bit longer to see it done.

Having tried and failed to sell the club for two years, but only at a price that gives them an unreasonably large profit, it’s quite clear that serious investors are few and far between. There was a suggestion today that when asked to name some of the supposed genuine bidders Gillett had actually said DIC. DIC made serious efforts to buy the club in the past, but even the most casual observer knows how laughable that idea is today. And also how desperate it is of Gillett to claim it.

There is now a firm belief that the only credible bid is the one from China, a bid that promises to see the club’s debt cleared. Money would be made available for new players before the end of this transfer window if the deal was completed by the deadline the bidder has set, and funding would be in place to begin work on the new stadium.

And claims that Kenny Huang hasn’t got the financial means to do this deal himself are coming from those who are desperate to discredit the bid – but Huang was never billed as the man with the money. The money is coming from a Chinese sovereign wealth fund.

The club will go on to be self-sufficient if the deal goes through and to plan. One positive of the current owners’ reign is the massive rise in turnover from commercial deals. This rise has been key to Liverpool’s survival at a time when the cost of servicing the huge debt has eaten up every spare penny the club has brought in. The expectation is that if this takeover was successful Liverpool’s popularity and exposure in Asia would increase dramatically and with it the revenue streams from those markets. Add to this the absence of any debt to service and a stadium bringing in extra revenue and the message is that this deal would bring all that was promised by the Americans and a whole lot more.

It is understood that the proposal put forward by Huang is now under serious consideration.

In time fans could go back to worrying about the quality of refereeing, laughing at the quality of opposition flags, arguing about formations and maybe, just maybe, agonising about how on earth they are going to get themselves to the European Cup final.

Liverpool fans have waited four summers for the true dawn of a genuine new era. That desperate old man mustn’t be allowed to delay that dawn any longer.

On your bike George.

45 thoughts on “Gillett desperate to block Chinese bid for Liverpool FC”

  1. The possibility of the club being run both profitably and with integrity is tantilising.

    On yer bike George indeed.

  2. For me this stage of the takeover process has parallels to that of 2007.

    Just when it looked as though LFC was going to end up in the hands of Sheik Mohammed everything was turned on its head by H&G.

    Thats why I’m just waiting, expecting the news to break that the sale process has collapsed or that by some sort of intervention Hicks or Gillett have put a spanner in the works.

    This takeover is far from over 🙁

  3. Good piece Jim,
    I hope and pray that the Huang & GLS bid goes through, I believe they are to meet Broughton this week, they seem to be very wealthy nd appear to have Liverpool FC’s wellbeing at their heart.
    Lets hope it goes through and we get rid of those yanks for good.

  4. Huang will end up buying the club in a weeks time, as the yanks have extremely little to say this time, unlike when Sheikh Mohammed tried to buy the club in 07. Think RBS will force the bid thru, no matter what the yanks say.


  5. Every cloud has a silver lining, it gets worse before it gets better.

    Finally some good news it seems to be true this time whether or not it s Huang which i hope it is now, we’re going to get new owners within the next week or so now the club have told the Premier League who are going to do the fit n propper tests. Maybe it was a good thing we didnt get 4th place and had our worst season although we didn’t know it at the time, a blessing in disquise……YNWA but if it does go thru step at a time everyone don’t start chanting we’re going to win the league, it takes alot of hard work you can’t buy the league title, 1 foot in the right direction, but still beleive our club is on its way back YNWA YNWA YNWA SHANKLEYS BABES ARE BACK IN BUSINESS

  6. Who knows whats really going on in the best interst of the clubs future its best the bank sellsnot hicks and gillet.

    there will be negative press coming out shortly about how bad the supposed buyers will be or are and how they wont have money this will be driven buy gillet and hicks and reporters whos only intrest is to see us fall.

    hit is highly important for us to invest in team before transfer window and that the bank has money owed paid. And the biggest one for the future is the stadium

    Lets not listen to all the B S out there have our fingers crossed that the bank and board can reaper the damage to help us back to the greatness we deserve.

  7. The “REDS in China”. Its a perfect fit for Kenny Huang &GLS, we would have a massive following in what will soon be the largest economy on earth!

    No wonder he is so serious, the sponsorship deals alone we could command as western multinationals fall over themselves to be linked with us. We would have income streams comming in no club will have ever seen the likes of before.

    Maybe its a good thing DIC didnt get us, this is not some rich arab or russian using us as a play thing till they get bored, this is about us being the most PROFITABLE football club on the planet and if Broughton is true to his word Haung will get us and G&H will get what they deserve. NOTHING, exactly what they put in.

    Fergurson will be choking on his bordeaux,

  8. I agree with Juan. We have seen this before and i just hope that this is genuine . There does seem to be a lot of news in a lot of places but i will not believe until i see Kenny huang in a liverpool shirt in Anfield and the headlines deal done and approved.

  9. Is there no end to the greed displayed by this man. He has proved he is totally incompetent and out of his depth in football. He should realise that and go. It is such a shame that as well as lying, he is putting personal gain above the well being of the club.

    I understand Broughton and the banks have the final say, not useless Georgie, so fingers crossed. I just hope he and Hicks realise that after all the debt, friction and general uselessness they have caused, the least they can expect is to get back what they paid with no profit.

    Good riddance (hopefully) to the pair of idiots.

  10. Jim

    What are your thoughts on Mr Huang ?

    Tony Evans is on record saying that when the yanks took over everyone took their eye off the ball when a simple google search would of revealed much.

    How do you feel about the approach and do you think there is more to play out

  11. I believe that a takeover by the kuwaiti billionaire (Al Kharafi) is a better deal for LFC than Huang.
    I am very worried about this Kenny guy as the money is not his and is coming from apparently a wealth fund, i.e. many folks have a say and can pull money at anytime.
    We need a sugar daddy who knows Liverpool (Al Kharafi has studied in Liverpool) and the culture and who loves the team.
    Not this Kenny guy who is in it for the money only not having any love for the football team…
    My 2 cents…

  12. Well Well Well it looks like our little yankee friends are on the way back over the pond. I think that it would be wise for Mr Broughton to give more details on the “other” prospective bidders if this is only where they are based and the amount of money they are looking to make available for transfers. I grew up watching the great liverpool side of the 70’s and 80’s and look forward to the return to those days (although I now work for and therefore support the loudest club in the prem little old stoke city). I was living in birkenhead when the hillsborough tragedy happened and had to sit next to an arsenal fan that night michael thomas scored that late late goal to win ARSE – nal the title. Hope that all you at anfield road and liverpool fans in general get the owners that you so richly deserve.

  13. I asked the question when Gillettt was at the rained off pre-season game – Why was he there and now we know. The difference with the Chinese bid is that it is coming from a businessman who has presented his intentions to the board but is not prepared to have his trousers dropped and told to bend over by two greedy, lying American con artists. I do hope that the deal goes through, I hope integrity of all involved (The two Americans excluded of course because they have none) and Liverpool get back to where they belong winning premierships, fa cups, champions leagues and attracting perhaps not so much the biggest names but the best talents.

  14. Quick reply to the news that SSN broke.

    I’ll go out on a limb and say it can be dismissed as nothing more than a stalling tactic by or on behalf of Gillett.

    The story came a Canadian PR agency, so that gets it off to a bad start.

    We find out that Kirdi now lives in Montreal and we knew Andy Lynch used to play and coach in Montreal as well as being Canadian national team coach. Added to what’s in the article above it was already looking doubtful this was anything other than a ploy to stall the process.

    But for it to work Gillett would need to have a lot more credibility of his own before people would believe his credible bidder actually was credible.

    Rhone were recently dismissed as irrelevant by sources close to one of the owners.

  15. I think the problem is that football is turning into big business. The motivation of owning a football club should be the passion for the sport and team, not as profit making centre. They simply want to buy LFC to squeeze money out of the masses for their own profits.
    Whatever happened to the campaign for fans to buy the club. We may not become the “richest club in the world” but we will have a club we can all take real pride in. I would be more proud if we won 1 title every 10 years with a club I can feel a real connection to than 5 titles every 10 years supporting some Chinese investor’s cash cow.

  16. Even if christmas has come early and the yanks are turfed out, the new owners will probably still expect dividends each year – the club is still at the mercy of its owner as to how many scraps of cash are thrown back into the bucket for investment in players

  17. I know nothing of Huang but the idea of breaking the chinese market is massive. We would be self sufficient which is v important in my eyes. We never want to be a Man City or Chelsea.

    Every time I read about H&G trying to get a fat profit out of the sale, you have to laugh. They’ve pushed this great club down the pan on the field, spent little or no money and now they want $200m+ profit!

  18. I have everything crossed that this hoorible episode will be resolved by the end of the next week. However, my trust in anyone with money is at an all time low so I’m not holding my breath.

    I’ve been thinking back to the day Hicks and Gillett sauntered into Anfield. We were told that this was going to be a new era, a golden laden era; in a star spangled new stadium. However this feeling of euphoria soon dispeared and we were all left feeling well and truly conned and cheated.

    Are there any willing hitmen in the Montreal area willing to carry out a mercy killing?!

    I just hope that this nightmare can end soon and we can start getting back to concentrating on solely football matters.

  19. Jesus George….Kicking and screaming like a lil pipsqueek till the very end to try and get as much money out of our club..Sooner we get rid of these two clowns the better……

    On yer bike feller, there is another seat on yer tandem for Hicks too!!

  20. Breaking news is that Kenny Huang has denied bidding for LFC.

    He has registered an interest but thats as far as it goes.

    He claims any comments attributed to him over the past few days is not true and if there is anything to report in the future it will come from his Hong Kong office and nobody else.

    Its impossible to tell how this whole saga will end but its starting to turn into a bit of a joke.

  21. Let’s all just hope we can trust the other members of the board to do the right thing for the club. It’s not nice to see our business splashed all over the cheap tabloid. Hopefully going forward, senior club officials and owners will remain in the backround and only football issues will be known about. I think there is a lot more to come in relation to this takeover yet. Broughton has on the surface of things proved to be honest to his word so far and all we can do is trust him on that. Frankly I don’t believe anything that journalists write because I don’t think any of them know exactly what’s going on in this process but we have to believe Broughton that there are a number of bids because he hasn’t given us any reason to disbelieve him. Pray the right decision is made.

  22. Gillette is as desperate as Hicks for profit once a sale is on. That’s why he always comes up with these stupid bidders “Yahya Kirdi – whom I’ve never heard of, and I’ve lived all my life in the Middle East region” or that Saudi Prince that turned out to be just a smoke screen.

    Regardless who takes on the club, I only wish that the next person appreciates and values the club correctly… these two c***s have dragged us in the mud and deserve to be shot at without any mercy for how they played with our feelings over the past 4 years.

  23. Brilliant article and for once on a forum (forgive me but it is the first time for me on here) well balanced and honest comments. It’s good to hear that there are some people who trust Broughton, I like the team we have I know people have issues with Purslow but we’ll see if he is still around when the new owners come in what he is made of. Anyway I think this is a last stand of desparation by H&G this Khirdi fella is nothing, I don’t think RBS would be too happy with H&G putting together all what they have with the board etc and then going behind their backs. I also actually like the way Huang has come out and denied the attributed comments to him, I don’t think for one minute he hasn’t put a formal bid in, but it’s akin to Roy Hodgson regarding the signing of Joe Cole. It’s the way LFC was run in the good old days a positive that. 1-0 Huang 🙂

  24. What will be the reaction of RBS and Liverpools creditors to Gilletts clearly made up proposed buyers? I know Gillett is desparate but is he really so utterly thick to make up and release a statement about the club almost being bought by Kirdi and his imaginary mates?
    Every sane person knows that this sale clearly wont happen but what will be RBS’s reaction – will they actually fall for it and say ok to Gillett and extend the loan deal? Surely to god they wont.
    The most pathetic thing is that this so called buyer has bypassed Broughton! How can they bypass the man who was specifically brought in to oversee the sale?! The fact that this is common knowledge shows immediately that Kirdi is a scam/smokescreen.

    I suppose my point is that if RBS or whoever fall for this then I give up and we will never sell the club. The sad thing is that I fully expect Huang or other legitimate bidders to walk away and for RBS to actually go with Gillett and Hicks.
    In a week or so’s time I predict everything will be quiet – no Huang and some manufactured excuse for Gilletts buyers pulling out made.

  25. Basically, If our club isn’t sold this time around then we are going to be a laughing stock of the premier league. We’ll be back to square one, large debt, massive interest payments… and no money for squad building and definately no stadium. My other concern is that if the club isnt sold then we’ll be back to square one with Gerrad and Torres, they’ll be disillusioned..

    I’m confident this sale will go through… god help H&G if it doesnt…

    PS Hodgson has already done an amazing job, the guy is down to earth, honest and although I had doubts about him, these are well and truly gone

  26. Take a bow Jim Boardman!

    Best article I’ve read (Tabloid, broadsheet or online) since the news broke.

  27. Huang’s backers to be revealed later tonight (hardly the best-kept secret in the world). Now that the club are taking him seriously he’s withdrawn from the public eye again, but he’s certainly not withdrawn from his attempt to take the club over.

    Meanwhile in Kirdi’s world, there’s talk of new stadium plans featuring a ‘solarium’ that will provide solar power for Liverpudlians…

  28. Hilarious stuff from Kirdi!

    I feel much better now, knowing that as a born and bred Liverpudlian that my future energy needs met by this plastic Bond villain’s vision of the new Anfield!

    What next, will he plug Torres into the National Grid and bleed him of all his energy to sell it back to the Middle East?!

    I have a bit more faith now (unlike in my previous comment) that Huang, the Board and RBS will come good and agree a deal.

  29. If the sales does not happen by the end of next week then the club is in the s***. because these w***s will strip the assets and we will be left with nowt.It will then take years to rebuld as people like SG and Nando will be sold off then the rest will go. The w***s will take the profit and go. If we are able to pull the deal off i think Roy will have enough nounse to build the club to where we would like to be competing at the top end, and wining some trophies.

  30. Jim, Good reporting as ever. But can you please either edit or remove those threads with offensive words? Bassam (especially) and koped39 need to keep it civil.

    Jim, when will these remaining bidders be known? Are your lips still sealed?

  31. I now read that the Syrian offer is real and accepted; I think that this is the time for the owners to get what they always wanted, to finish the job they started, get the most money they can get!

    It will be too late for the club to buy anyone but at least it will be over.
    Hope Hodgson keeps Mascherano becouse he will not get any money from his sale, not before the takeover.

  32. I think the Syrian bloke is quickly becoming as unpopular as the Americans. And the fact that he has close links to Gilletts son wont endear him to the fans should his bid actual be serious.

    A shopping center and 5 star hotel. Sounds like it will generate the club billions! 🙂

    I watched an interview with Keith Harris today and he is also fronting a bid for some what sounded like very serious bidders so I dont his client can be ruled out.

  33. The Times is running with the story that if Huang takes over at Liverpool Roy Hodgson will be kept on as manager and will be given 150 million to spend on players

  34. What do I know, wishful thinking maybe, but I think the Syrian is a stalking horse, trying to get more money on the table out of the serious bidders. News is breaking everywhere that China’s investment arm CIC is behind the Huang bid. Guardian has an article suggesting CIC has liquidised assets to the exact amount of LFC debt, suggesting that will be enough to secure the club, and fast. And guess what, if that happened, H&G would get jack.

  35. Shouldn’t that headline just read:-
    I think Martin Broughton, Christian Purslow and Roy Hodgson are all doing a great job. Let’s all get behind them.

  36. I think that we all need to be patient and trust that Broughton, Purslow & Iyre will do what’s right for the club. Broughton won’t want to be remembered badly out of this deal (and it’s high publicity even for him), Iyre has already proved himself in his financial dealings for the club and no matter what gripe anyone has with Purslow, well at least he’s a lifelong fan and will want the best for us as much as anyone else. Only time will tell, but they are to be admired in the way they have kept it all in-house & confidential so far and that wouldn’t have happened a year ago.

  37. We’ve gone from famine to feast in a matter of hours haven’t we.

    Both of the potential buyers sound pretty good, but then again it’s all just spin for the papers. If memory serves, H&G sounded pretty good for the first few weeks and look where they’ve taken us.

    As long as all the major players in this deal have a decent amount of respect for the club they’re working for (not H&G), I think it will turn out okay. If the deal can be struck before the window closes, then great, but I’m not going to hold my breath for that one.

  38. Good piece Jim, What’s nice about it is that the Chinese royal family have a lot of pride and ego in what ever they do, meaning clockwork organisation and silverware.

  39. Whaterever one may say about the ability of the Syrian to put a deal together to buy LFC is one thing….
    BUT THE ONE BIG FACTOR THAT I DO NOT LIKE IS, THAT THE LATEST STATEMENT FROM THE SYRIAN CAMP STATES THAT THE DEAL THAT IS BEING PUT TOGETHER WITH HICKS & GILLET ” LEAVES A PLACE FOR THE AERICANS TO CONTINUE TO HAVE A PART OWNERSHIP IN LFC”. Just how big a percentage is not stated, but any deal that gives them a continuation in the ownership or running of the club cannot be good.
    Here is were the Chairman must be seen to be doing the job he is suposed to do and that is, to sell the club to those who can do the best job for LFC long term future. H&G have clearly demonstrated beyond any shadow of doubt in the last 3 years that they are not fit to own or run LFC.

  40. Steve Morgan – a man with LFC’s interests at heart – if only our greedy previous chairman hadn’t followed the dirty dollar, how different things may have been!

Comments are closed.