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Thursday 14 December 2017

Hicks and Gillett facing £20m penalty over Liverpool saga

Rory Smith

LIVERPOOL owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett will have to pay the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) £20m in penalty fees if the club remains unsold at the end of August.

And while Kenny Huang, the leading contender to oust the Americans, yesterday insisted that talks are progressing smoothly, he admitted he is only 50pc confident of securing a £400m takeover.

The bank, which holds Liverpool's £237m debt, has imposed the so-called 'ticking fees' against Hicks and Gillett, rather than the club, in an attempt to force a sale.

Hicks and Gillett are also thought to be personally liable for millions of pounds in punitive interest charges since RBS agreed to a new refinancing deal in April.

Liverpool's owners are holding out for a £600m deal to cover liabilities elsewhere in their business empires.

Yahya Kirdi, the Syrian-Canadian businessman acknowledged as the Americans' preferred bidder, has denied he will meet that valuation, while Huang is thought to be preparing an offer of around £400m.

The Chinese entrepreneur yesterday broke his silence on his prospective takeover in an interview published in his homeland, insisting an outline proposal has been approved by Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton and the club's board.

He also moved to assuage a number of doubts over his offer, including the provenance of funds and the identities of his backers, though he did not confirm a formal bid to buy the club had been made.

Meanwhile, as Javier Mascherano's departure from Anfield moved ever closer, Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson yesterday secured an immediate like-for-like replacement as he completed the signing of the combative Danish midfielder Christian Poulsen.

Juventus are to receive an initial £4.5m for the 30-year-old, with another £1m payable depending on appearances. Poulsen is a familiar figure to Hodgson -- the pair were together during the manager's time in charge of FC Copenhagen a decade ago.

The Dane, who has played in Germany, Spain and Italy and in two World Cup finals for Denmark, has a reputation for getting under the skin of opponents.

Most famously, in a qualifier for Euro 2008, he punched Swedish striker Markus Rosenberg. The referee awarded the Swedes a penalty, whereupon a fan attempted to attack the official, who abandoned the game.

Poulsen was banned for three matches amid calls back home for him to be imprisoned for his actions. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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