- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 4, 2010

LONDON (AP) - A Canadian-based consortium led by a Syrian businessman said Wednesday that it is close to buying Liverpool from the club’s American owners.

The statement from Yahya Kirdi, who is representing a group of investors from the Middle East and Canada, came hours before Chinese investor Kenny Huang said he is also contemplating a takeover of the Premier League club.

Dallas businessman Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. put the team up for sale in April amid pressure from banks over the club’s $374 million of debt. Hicks also owns baseball’s Texas Rangers, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. The Rangers were scheduled to be sold at auction Wednesday in Texas.

Martin Broughton, who was brought in as chairman to oversee the Liverpool sale process, said he hopes a buyer can be found before the transfer window closes Aug. 31.

Kirdi, who is now a Canadian resident, said his group is in “advanced negotiations” with Hicks and Gillett.

“Agreement has been reached on all major terms including the purchase price, repayment of the existing bank debt from RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) and Wells Fargo and financing of a new stadium in Liverpool’s Stanley Park,” Kirdi’s group said in a statement. “A formal purchase agreement between the parties is in the final stage of negotiation.”

Kirdi, who also oversees investments in Europe and North America, pledged to invest in the squad, which dropped from Premier League runner-up to seventh place last season _ denying them a spot in this season’s Champions League.

“Liverpool is a massive football club with passionate and proud fans in Merseyside and in every part of the world,” Kirdi said. “With additional money to improve the squad and financing in place to build the new stadium, LFC will be on a solid foundation to compete in the Premiership and in Europe for years to come.”

Kirdi could face competition from Huang, the chairman of Hong Kong-based investment company QSL Sports who issued a statement Wednesday expressing his interest in the club.

Mr. Huang would like to emphasize that he has registered interest in investing in Liverpool FC but has made no formal bid,” his Hong Kong representatives said.

Huang is co-chairman of both the National Basketball League of China and the Chinese Baseball League.

While Liverpool’s Premier League campaign begins against Arsenal on Aug. 15, the five-time European champions host Rabotnicki on Thursday in the Europa League’s third qualifying round, leading 2-0 from the first leg.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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