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  • Colin Colin Feb 1, 2007 03:23 Flag

    thoughts on today

    It was only a fortnight ago that Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry was in bullish mood about the arrival at the Shankly Gates of the investment arm of the Dubai government.
    He told BBC Five Live's Sportsweek: "A huge amount of work has been going on, we'll have something to say soon.
    "Yes, the deal is looking positive and yes, I'm confident it will go through. This will take us to the next level.
    "But it's not a quick fix, a rich man's plaything. It's a long-term model for success, based around the new stadium."
    Not any more it isn't.
    It appears hesitation on the part of the Liverpool board, led by chairman David Moores, to formally accept DIC's bid in the wake of a second offer from American George Gillett has killed the deal stone dead.
    This was meant to be the dream scenario for Liverpool. The deal that would see the Sheikhs of Dubai lavishing riches on Anfield that would put them alongside Chelsea.
    It was never going to be work of a maverick benefactor on a Roman Abramovich scale, DIC is too shrewd and businesslike for that, but it seemed a perfect fit.
    Now it appears that, as far as Moores and Parry are concerned, Gillett is the best a man can get.
    Gillett may prove a palatable alternative - and do not rule out interest from other parties waiting in the wings as DIC pulled out.
    DIC was welcomed with open arms by both Liverpool Football Club and their fans.
    Serious people with serious investment and serious lovers of sport. There was even talk of some of the DIC hierarchy having Liverpool screen-savers on their mobile phones.
    Boyhood fans and all that.
    But it is clear this trail has been going cold over the last few days as the shadow of Gillett, owner of Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team, suddenly re-emerged.
    Gillett appeared to have been seen off by DIC, and initial suggestions that Liverpool may take his renewed takeover bid seriously were swiftly sidelined by sources within Anfield.
    But Gillett has made crucial moves in the last week that forced Liverpool to reconsider him as a serious proposition.
    He completed his due diligence programme within three days - after DIC had taken the best part of a month over the same process.
    He happily agreed to personally underwrite the potential £200m-plus cost of a new stadium without hesitation.
    Was DIC reluctant to underwrite in such a fashion? If it was, it may have suggested to Liverpool a slight dent in their enthusiasm.
    He delivered guarantees on future transfer funds.
    And, crucially, Gillett was able to reject what some previously saw as a key plank of his proposal - namely a groundshare with neighbours Everton.
    Liverpool chairman Moores, who owns 51.6% of the club, would get £8m more from the Gillett deal, but it would be unfair to suggest this would sway a deal.
    Moores has never been motivated by personal gain from Liverpool - which suggests he was having serious reservations about choosing DIC ahead of Gillett over and above financial considerations.
    I understand Moores has recently come under pressure from minor shareholders to consider Gillett's offer, which is worth £500 a share more than DIC's.
    Now DIC have made that decision for him and only time will tell if Moores' hesitation to rubber-stamp a deal at a London Docklands hotel on Tuesday will be fatal.
    Gillett covers many bases for Liverpool.
    He is rich. He is a sports lover.
    but Liverpool have trumpeted the merits of the DIC proposal so loudly, it will be interested to see how they pitch Gillett as the new dream ticket.
    One thing is certain. Any deal must be done quickly and DIC's withdrawal has hardly accelerated the process.
    Building work on Liverpool's new stadium is scheduled to start in March - and finance from a new owner is at the very heart of the foundations.
    Liverpool cannot delay further. And Gillett is now in pole position to exploit DIC's withdrawal.

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