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Liverpool FC are likely to become the first EPL side owned by the state

Liverpool FC are likely to become the first EPL side owned by the state

By Tony Attwood

A Chinese government fund (China Investment Corp) supposedly represented by Kenny Huang has, apparently, being selling off share assets to raise exactly the amount of money that Liverpool Insolvency is in debt to the banks: £351.4m.  (That’s not actually the full debt, but it is the debt that RBS and the American bank in league with them want back in any deal involving buying the club).

Does that sound funny?  Try this one. A Chinese spokesman for CIC said that it was quite untrue that CIC were interested in buying the Insolvents.

Or this one

“Huang is backed by one of the wealthiest investment funds in the Far East and is well known in China for his interests in baseball and basketball, last year buying a 15% stake in the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. He was first linked with a buy-out at Liverpool two years ago but believes now is the time to make his move.” (The Guardian)

Or this one

The Chinese businessman seeking to to take over Liverpool categorically denied last night that the Chinese state government was financing the bid in any way, though he insisted that he would table between £400m and £450m to secure the club’s future.” (The Independent)

Or this one

“He was previously reported to be buying a stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team in the United States, but that deal seems to have fallen through.” (The BBC)

Find a story about this guy, and you will find another story denying it.  Here’s one: Huang bypassed the owners of the Insolvents and did a deal with RBS. “By going to RBS you can leverage a large amount of pressure that no one else can on the owners,” an ‘insider’ said to the Guardian. “It is a deal which has no interest in shareholders, meaning there will be no profit for Hicks and Gillett.”

Meanwhile Gillett informed RBS that he is in advanced negotiations with the Syrian businessman Yahya Kirdi. Anyway that may just be a misprint for Kolo’s brother.

So maybe it is true, maybe not.  I think not because of this: Huang (according to a dozen papers) wants a deal that has to go through in the next week so the manager will have time to buy players… which is nice and cheery for fans of the Liverpool Reds as Tom Hicks called them when he bought them.  But it doesn’t say much for due diligence.   This is a company whose auditors refused to sign off the last lot of accounts, and whose bankers turfed out their chairman to put in a Chelsea season ticket holder.  It is a club in a dire mess, and the thought of doing due diligence in 10 days is semi-skimmed.

Then there’s a private equity gang called The Rhone Group.  They were sniffing around in the spring, but didn’t go forward then, but word on the street is….  oh who cares.  It is all made up.

Let’s go back to China, where there is a notion that the state’s bankers have just sold exactly the right amount of shares to be able to buy the club.  Supposing they do – then what?   Liverpool is a selling club, bringing in free transfers and low cost buys, and yet the current manager seems to be holding on to the notion that money will come through.  (Oh and do you remember Jamie Redknapp saying on Sky that Liverpool had £35m to spend this summer on transfers?)

So if the Chinese take over, where is the transfer money coming from?  All they are looking to do is to wipe out the bank borrowing.  At the amount being talked about there is no money for paying off other debts, for buying players, for starting work on the new ground….

Now none of this would be complete without Keith Harris who seems to advise people on selling dead-beat clubs and buying the club that is just about to be “very big, very big indeed”.

He said the Insolvents were worth more than the £350m debt – which is a bit strange since he doesn’t represent Liverpool but represents another buyer.  Maybe he knows a man who…

So when we get to a list of six possible bids for Liverpool, and start looking in depth, they seem to start slipping and sliding away.  I am not sure there actually are six bids, or five, nor even four, not three, and two of the remaining two look a bit funny.

Of course if the Chinese do buy Liverpool they will have to submit themselves to a fit and proper persons’ test.  Which raises a question: is the People’s Republic of China a fit and proper person?  I spent a few weeks there a couple of years back, and was amazed and impressed, but I never actually got to ask the President of the Republic one or two questions that were on my mind about his fitness for running a football club.

It is an important point since new all spanky clean and shiny new are now in force.  You are supposed to be able to see the beneficial owners on the club’s web site.

Now the Chinese have a reputation for being inscrutable, so maybe they are already working in preparation for the moment they have to declare themselves owners. If so, their trial run comes with the Leeds United web site which says…

“LUFC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Leeds City Holdings Limited (‘LCH’).

“LCH has five shareholders, four of these hold 27.15% collectively with no one of these holding more than 10% of the issued shares.

“FSF Limited (a company incorporated in Nevis) holds 102,000,000 or 72.85% of the issued shares.

“Chateau Fiduciaire SA (‘the trustee’) is the legal owner of the shares in FSF Limited. The trustee is a fully regulated Swiss Fiduciary providing professional trust and corporate services to clients worldwide.

“FSF Limited has 10,000 shares that are held on behalf of 3 separate and independent discretionary trusts (‘the trusts’). Two of the trusts hold 3,333 shares each and the other holds 3,334. The trustee is the duly appointed trustee of the trusts and manages them independently. The class of beneficiaries in each trust are entirely discretionary, they are not identical and can only be identified by the potential nature of any benefit.

“FSF Limited was incorporated purely for the purpose of the trusts’ investments in LCH. These are not the trusts’ only interests. The trusts have no other interest in any football club.”

OK that’s clear then. It wasn’t Ken Bates after all.  And good to know that the Fit and Proper Person’s Test means something in Gibberish, because it sure don’t mean nothing in English.  Good tough fighting work from the football league there, properly arranged to give us poor fans a clue as to what is going on.

So if RBS decides to turn down Huang’s proposal, or if it turns out he runs a rather nice little restaurant in Market Harborough and not a basketball team after all, RBS still it has the option of calling in the loan in October. It would then be classed as “distressed debt” and that, as they say, would be more or less that.

Kop Football (Holdings) would be directly owned by RBS and run as a part of the bank which is itself owned by taxpayers in the UK.  In other words it would be nationalised just as RBS is.  With the owners not able to provide any more guarantees they would be thrown off the board.  The bank would then deal with the matter directly.

That means that citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will own the club.  We will all have to be vetted as fit and proper persons – and I am rather worried about the bloke at the end of our street.

Still, a bit of power could be fun, and I shall be there exercising my rights to have an opinion over a football club I partly own.

Fancy buying an apartment on some land just close  to Everton’s ground, anyone?

We’re Untold, because no one else told it, if you see what I mean.

We came from Woolwich and we are proud of it.

Some of “Making the Arsenal” is extraordinarily funny.

21 comments to Liverpool FC are likely to become the first EPL side owned by the state

  • avatar walter

    Could it be that Liverpool(or their current owners) are spreading rumours about people who are interested, just to wake up possible investors and to get more money from them.
    A bit like a footballers agent who goes to the press telling is player is wanted by Arsenal, Utd, City and Chelsea and trying to get a team crazy enough to buy it and him for a high price. The more competition for a player (in thise case a club) the higher the prize will go.

  • avatar walter

    The part of : Liverpool “Reds” as Tom Hicks called them.

    Maybe he was talking about their debts already at that time? Or his intentions?
    Anyway, maybe we can say some bad things about our board (nobody is perfect) but I do think we can be glad we have the board we have. Very, very glad. I can go to bed and have a good night sleep without having to worry if my club still will be there in the morning. I wonder if this is the same for Liverpool or United fans…

  • avatar Mohamed Zubairu

    This is interesting! I hope all the A A A’s are reading this. They do not mind if Arsenal spend unnecessarily and get into mountains of debt and end up like Liverpool. Let us not mortgage our future for the present or sell our birth right for a morsel of bread. Glory days are ahead and we are within possibility of it commencing from 2010-11.

  • avatar GoonerGaz

    When we own Liverpool i am going to tip them off on a top keeper from Arsenal who should be available for 10 million plus Reina……..or do we want more for Fabianski.

  • avatar Rhys Jaggar

    I agree that 99% of all stuff in the papers is solid waste excretia.

    Be that as it may, the Chinese State is as rich as the Arabs at citeh, so the odd billion is loose change to them. So cash will not be the issue if they are part of it. Which they might not be………

    RBS might start a sell-off to supporters……..

  • avatar Dave

    Hasn’t RBS been taken over by the Santander bank group? If so, how does that fit in with RBS being nationalised???

  • avatar walter

    Maybe the fit and proper person test should be implemented to the banks also?
    But if it is the same as in the football even a dog with a hat on can be sitting in the board.

  • avatar ds_helder

    Usually, buying football clubs is bad business. You won’t earn much money from it.

    A Chinese buying Liverpool at this moment, could be an exception and probably generate high earnings. China is a huge and growing market. Liverpool is an established brand. The possibilities of income from millions of Chinese discovering European football and supporting Liverpool as “their team”/”China’s club” are well worth exploring.

  • avatar Jonny

    Hi guys, been away a few days and only just saw the responses to my proclamation that Denilson was a ‘see you next tuesday’ on previous thread. LOL.

    Sorry if I gave cause for shock – I didn’t think any of you would take me seriously! Tongue was very much in cheek. :0)

    For the record I not only do I rate Denilson and I am sure he is a very affable young man.

    Oh – and the raped keyboard comment – very good, LOL.

  • avatar Jonny

    English is my first language honest –

    Should have read:
    “For the record I not only rate Denilson, I am sure he is a very affable young man.”

  • avatar goonergerry

    One of the many things I am not clear about this proposal is it a hostile take over?- given that Huang has gone directly to RBS and offered to clear their debt for control of the club and Huang does not wish to pay the current owners a cent in profit it seems it is- so can Liverpool’s owners simply refuse to sell? Does it not come down to a Board vote if that is the case? Depends if H&G have anyone else who supports their own position on the Board?
    Giving the Chinese Government a controlling interest in the running of an iconic English Football Club- seems a major step to me- haven’t heard too many worried voices from the scousers though- they seemingly don’t care who runs the club as long as its not the present owners and they get a few bob for transfers. Has anyone any experience of doing business with the Chinese Government? My understanding is its often a one-way process- they tell you and you do it. Why should they be any less interested than H&G in taking out money from the club?

  • avatar Ham

    @Jonhy, great men release when there wrong and apologies. I personally accept your apology!!

  • avatar Jonny

    Thanks Ham, though just to be clear it was never meant seriously – I just have a dark sense of humour.

    On previous threads I had railed against the numerous postings on Le Twat certifying that xxx is a c*nt. It’s an extraordinary thing to say about any Arsenal player. I wouldn’t even feel correct describing a spud player in that fashion let alone one of our own.

    Ashley Cole maybe…but then he very actually is.

  • Jonny, I knew, honest I did.

    The problem is that there are many people who only read one article and comments here and that’s that. Of course no reason why they should do more than that, but it is worth noting.

    But I must admit I do love it when someone thinks that one of the Billy the Dog stories about Cesc is actually true.

  • avatar Jonny

    Oh that’s good Tony – I was genuinely concerned that you had taken me seriously (literally the last thing anyone should be doing).

    And Billy the Dog should ALWAYS be taken seriously, he’s an extremely erudite and learned man and he always speaks from the heart.

    :0P

  • I knew that liverpool were being bought out by a chinese conglomorate, but I didn’t know it was government owned, is that even legal? Surely a foriegn state can’t own an english football team?

  • I think all the clubs in the EPl should be owned by foreign government. Wigan could be owned by Alaska, because no one is there. Manchester United could be owned by Spain, because they are both bust.

    Actually clubs can be owned by anyone or anything – there is just the famous fit and proper person rule.

    I think Liverpool should be run by the fourth moon of Uranus. Portsmouth are actually owned by the government of Columbia who use the club as part of their ceaseless campaign against cocaine.

    Blackburn Rovers are owned by the Taliban

    Bol-tan are owned by Ireland.

  • avatar Clerkenwell Gooner

    FSF Limited (a company incorporated in Nevis) holds 102,000,000 or 72.85% of the issued shares.

    Oh, funny, very funny.

    Sounds like the sort of set-up Roberto Calvi, aka God’s banker, used to oversee for his paymasters at the Vatican. No money-laundering going on there, was there? (see Rupert Cornwall’s eponymous book for details).

    As for Liverpool FC, the club would be owned by UK Financial Investments (UKFI), a private subsidiary of the Treasury, and hence not by you and me.

    UKFI was set up as a private entity deliberately by the last nuLabour (TM) government precisely so as to be able to avoid public scrunity of exactly what the British taxpayers’ $$$ were propping up when the decision was taken by same govt to bail out RBS & co.

    As fans, we won’t have any more scrunity over the finances at Liverpool FC than those at Leeds.

    We just get to pay for the bloody thing.

  • avatar Imran Khan

    Hi there Tony, another quality article. Can you please tell me how much debt Arsenal are in presently?

  • avatar simon bailey

    the fit and proper test in this case is an interesting point. the club has been up for sale for ages, and now, only a short time before the transfer window and new season start are the buyers getting serious.

    i reckon that it has been done on purpose so that the fit and proper tests will have to be done on the hurry-up and important issues will get missed or glossed over. after all, it’s in the epls’ best interest for liverpool to be sold. one less embarrassment for them to have to deal with, especially after pompey last season.