Liverpool's future still looked uncertain last night after one potential investor denied an interest and the financial backing of another was called into question. According to British media reports, as many as six potential parties are looking to buy the 18-time English champions who were put up for sale by Tom Hicks and George Gillett, the club's American owners, in April.
One of those is Kenny Huang, the Chinese-born American businessman, who said on Wednesday that he was interested in investing in the Premier League club but had not launched a formal bid. A source close to Huang said on Monday that talks to buy Liverpool's £237 million (Dh1.837billion) debt with major creditor Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) were underway as a first step towards acquiring control of the club.
RBS denied any talks on a sale and said all approaches would be forwarded to Barclays Capital, which has been instructed to find a buyer for the club. The Times newspaper said yesterday that China's sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corporation (CIC), would back a Huang bid. However, the Financial Times has since reported CIC as saying it had never heard of a plan to buy Liverpool or of Huang. Huang would not comment yesterday.
CIC was set up in 2007 with the aim of seeking higher returns for part of the country's huge stockpile of foreign exchange reserves, which stood at US$2.39 trillion (Dh8.78tn) at the end of 2009. It had invested $110bn up until May this year, taking its assets under management to about $300bn. In other takeover news, Sam Allardyce plans to ignore all the talk of new owners taking over at Blackburn Rovers.
With the Jack Walker Trustees unable to bankroll the Ewood Park team in the manner of old and debts now hitting £20m, the hunt is on for a wealthy backer to help preserve the club's top flight status. The latest name to emerge is Ahasan Ali Syed, the Indian businessman, who is said to have a £300m war chest with which to buy the club, pay off the Lancashire club's debts and invest in the transfer market.
There has been no official confirmation a bid is about to be lodged and John Williams, the chairman, has already made it perfectly clear any deal would have to be in the club's best interests. So, with the new Premier League season just over a week away, Allardyce sees little point in getting carried away. "We do know there's an interest there but it will only excite me when John rings up and says it's done," Allardyce said.
"Until somebody actually fronts up with the right sort of money we will go with what we have." The taxman yesterday lost a bid to block proposals to help Portsmouth, the club relegated from the Premier League last season, out of administration. HM Revenue and Customs was seeking an order blocking a proposed Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) put together by the club's administrators to help it out of administration. But yesterday the High Court ruled in favour of the administrators.
Mr Justice Mann said: "I propose to find in favour of the company administrators and dismiss the application of HMRC." The judge said the proposed CVA would stand. * PA