TOM HICKS Jr, the Liverpool co-owner, is close to completing the sale of the Texas Rangers baseball team for a fee in excess of €350 million, but none of the proceeds are expected to be ploughed into the Premier League club.
A statement released on behalf of the Hicks Sports Group (HSG) at the weekend revealed that an agreement has been reached with a consortium headed by Nolan Ryan, the Rangers president and former pitcher and Chuck Greenberg, a Pittsburgh attorney.
The deal will go through subject to the ratification of Major League Baseball and the 40 financial institutions that hold about €370m of debt on HSG.
"Together, we have worked exhaustively since last month to attain this agreement," Hicks said.
"It's a complex business deal that positions the franchise positively for the future." The deal, which is expected to be completed by April, is unlikely to have any impact on Hicks's position at Liverpool.
The club -- led by managing director Christian Purslow -- are continuing with their quest for new investment as they endeavour to reduce the €270m of debt built by Hicks and George Gillett, his co-owner, since their takeover in 2007.
Hicks's debts in the United States are such that his creditors will have first call on the revenue produced from the proposed sale of the Rangers, making the need for investment in Liverpool as urgent as ever.
Purslow revealed this month that work on the new stadium will begin if and when investment is secured. He also admitted that he is working towards "diluting" the shareholding of Hicks and Gillett, who bought Liverpool with money borrowed from the Royal Bank of Scotland and who have increased the club's exposure to debt rather than their own financial commitment.
Late last year Gillett was also involved in a substantial sale when he relinquished ownership of the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team for a reported €390m, but has not invested that money in Liverpool.
In light of their failure to plough in money -- the most recent round of contract extensions for some of the club's biggest stars, including Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, was funded from the club's earnings, not contributions from the owners -- the duo's popularity levels are at an all-time low with supporters' groups.
© The Times, London