Tuesday 25th May 2004 


MourinhoThe Thai bid for a stake in Liverpool soccer club has overcome sticking points but it could be six weeks until a deal is ready to be signed, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Tuesday.

"The subject of Thai demands over representation on the Liverpool board is no longer a problem," Thaksin said.

"The next step is to get teams of professionals to analyse financial and legal issues", a process which would take up to six weeks, he added.

Thailand has offered 4.6 billion baht ($113 million) for a 30 percent stake in the English premier league club.

Businessman Steve Morgan, whose bid was rebuffed by the Liverpool board earlier this month, said on Friday he was withdrawing after a revised offer was also turned down.

Thaksin said Thailand would not talk to other teams during the six weeks. "We are in the silence period now so don't ask me about the Liverpool deal," Thaksin said.

Thaksin did not say how many seats Thailand demanded and won on the board. Thai newspapers have reported that Thaksin wanted two, about 25 percent of the board, and Liverpool offered one.

Deputy Commerce Minister Pongsak Raktapongpisal, the chief Thai negotiator, is due back in Bangkok from Liverpool on Wednesday when he is expected to give more details.

The club, four times champions of Europe, is 51 percent owned by chairman David Moores, whose family has had control for half a century, and 9.9 percent owned by television company Granada.

Thaksin said last week Moores' holding would be diluted to 35 percent if the deal went through. Thailand would hold 30 percent and therefore its ratio of directors on the board should be high, he said.

Thaksin has said his offer would inject 45 million pounds ($81 million) into the club, which needs investment to buy new players and help fund construction of a bigger stadium.

The rest will be used to buy shares from existing shareholders. Critics say the money will be wasted.

"Having a share in a famous football club like Liverpool will be a source of pride for Thailand, but is this well-being worth 4.6 billion baht, a huge amount that could be used for all sorts of more worthy causes?" the Bangkok Post newspaper said.

Thaksin says the deal will benefit Thai soccer, pointing to a soccer academy to be established by the club in the southeast Asian country.


The Guardian