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Sunday 17 December 2017

Reds face £100m ultimatum

Ian Herbert

Liverpool's pursuit of £100m in new investment is being carried out on the orders of the club's bankers, and with the managing director admitting he cannot "guarantee" success, the genuine possibility is emerging of its American owners being forced to sell up this summer.

Though it has been known for several months that MD Christian Purslow is seeking cash by selling equity to alleviate Liverpool's £237m debt, only yesterday, in the published minutes of a recent meeting between Purslow and the Spirit of Shankly (SoS) fans' group, did Royal Bank of Scotland's express "requirement" of the new cash become clear.

The deadline for securing the £100m is July -- when Tom Hicks and George Gillett must refinance their debts once again. Fail to find the cash and the Americans will be out of Anfield. The consequences of that for Liverpool could be defining ones -- conceivably a fire sale of the club similar to the one which West Ham have just undergone.

The pursuit of the investment is proving more difficult than Purslow had foreseen, with initial hopes that a number of investors could be sought to secure the £100m in return for a 25pc share now giving way to the acceptance that no new investor will be prepared to lay out millions simply to take a minority stake. As reported on Monday, a 34pc stake seems to be the minimum a buyer will accept, with Hicks and Gillett owning 33pc each.

The picture is further complicated by the fact that Purslow has not accepted SoS's minutes of their January 21 meeting with him, in which he portrayed RBS as extremely unhappy with Hicks and Gillett and keen to be rid of them. But even his less eye-catching account of the meeting confirms that securing £100m to reduce borrowings was agreed when he, a former merchant banker, was appointed last autumn.

Purslow, who said in his minutes that Liverpool were talking to five or six potential investors, rejected suggestions that the Americans are so desperate for cash that they are willing to sell 40pc of the club for £100m. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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