- Associated Press - Thursday, October 7, 2010

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND (AP) - The message regularly written on scarves, flags, blogs and fan forums of die-hard Liverpool supporters the past two seasons was simple: “Thanks but no Yanks.”

So it came as no surprise _ given the recent abuse directed toward co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. _ that news of a possible takeover by another group of Americans was greeted with reservation by the Reds faithful.

“I don’t think they will be given a chance. We don’t trust the Yanks any more,” Paul Tremarco, a Liverpool season-ticket holder and manager of The Arkles pub near the Reds’ stadium, said Wednesday.

“They’re making us look like a laughing stock. We really wanted a rich Arab from the United Arab Emirates.”

Liverpool’s prospective new owner, New England Sports Ventures, had a 300-million pound ($477 million) bid accepted by the club’s board on Tuesday. Hicks and Gillett are resisting the sale, claiming it “dramatically undervalues” the 18-time English champions, and tried to oust two members of the board just before the NESV offer was accepted.

So legal action will be needed to force the existing American owners out and push through the sale to NESV, which owns the Boston Red Sox. The deal will also need the approval of the Premier League.

But there is concern among supporters that the club is simply being shifted from one set of unsafe hands to another.

“We have done a lot of research into NESV, but it’ll still be important that these people come out and engage with supporters and tell us what their intentions are,” said James McKenna, spokesman for the Spirit of Shankly fans’ group.

“Supporters are understandably going to be cautiously optimistic about what these people are like and we are going to want a lot more than what we got from Tom Hicks and George Gillett.”

NESV, whose portfolio of companies also includes New England Sports Network, Fenway Sports Group and Rousch Fenway Racing, pledged to clear Liverpool’s debt _ which currently stands at 285 million pounds ($453 million) _ when it takes over.

“Our objective is to stabilize the club and ultimately return Liverpool FC to its rightful place in English and European football, successfully competing for and winning trophies,” a statement by NESV said Wednesday.

NESV wants to bring back the culture of winning to Liverpool FC.”

Liverpool has stumbled at the start of this season, dropping into the relegation zone of the Premier League after an embarrassing 2-1 home loss to promoted Blackpool on Sunday. It is the Reds’ worst start to a season since 1953.

They were knocked out of the League Cup by fourth-tier Northampton two weeks ago, one of the lowest points of the club’s proud history that includes an English-record five European Cups.

“This whole takeover saga will take quite a while, if it indeed goes through,” McKenna said. “Supporters hope it can have an impact on the pitch and a bit of positivity through the club.

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