- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2007

1:01 p.m.

LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool is close to becoming the third Premier League club owned by Americans.

The storied English soccer club recommended today that its shareholders accept a takeover bid from American businessmen George Gillett Jr. and Tom Hicks.

Financial details of the takeover were not immediately available. A formal announcement was expected later today.

British media reported that Gillett, owner of the Montreal Canadiens, and Hicks, who owns the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers, had made a $344 million bid for Liverpool.

Liverpool said the proposed takeover would be a “great step forward” for the record 18-time English champions. Liverpool also has won the European Cup five times — more than any other English team.

“They have made clear their intention to move as quickly as practicable on the financing and construction of our proposed new stadium at Stanley Park and also to support investment in the playing squad,” said Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry.

In September, Liverpool received the go-ahead to build a new 60,000-seat stadium, clearing the way for it to leave 45,000-capacity Anfield after 114 years.

The Times of London said Gillett and Hicks would commit up to $423 million for a new stadium. It also said they were likely to pay off at least $98 million of the club’s estimated $157 million debt.

Parry said the consortium was “exactly the sort of genuine partnership” Liverpool had been seeking.

“The partnership created by George and Tom is very special,” Parry said. “They are bringing to the table tremendous and relevant experience, a passion for sport, real resources and a strong commitment to the traditions of Liverpool.”

Gillett and Hicks said in a joint statement that they were impressed with Liverpool’s “remarkable history and a passionate fan base.”

“We fully acknowledge and appreciate the unique heritage and rich history of Liverpool and intend to respect this heritage in the future,” they said. “The Hicks family and the Gillett family are extremely excited about continuing the club’s legacy and tradition.”

If Gillett and Hicks succeed in buying Liverpool, it would be the third Premier League club owned by Americans. Malcolm Glazer, who owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, controls Manchester United. Randy Lerner, who owns the Cleveland Browns, took over Aston Villa in September.

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