Liverpool deal at make or break stage, says Thai PM Thaksin

BANGKOK: Thailand will wrap up talks on whether to buy a 30 percent stake in English Premier League club Liverpool within the next few days, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday. 

“We are trying to finish it in the next two to three days,” Thaksin told reporters. “Whether we will buy it or not, it must end by then.” 

Thaksin has become the sole bidder for the Liverpool stake after rival Steve Morgan, whose bid was rejected by the Liverpool board earlier this month, said on Friday he was withdrawing after a revised offer was also turned down. 

Negotiations over the 4.6 billion baht (US$113mil) bid have stalled over the level of Thai representation on the board. 

Thai negotiators, led by Deputy Commerce Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal, flew to England on Sunday for talks with Liverpool and to evaluate other clubs if those talks fail. 

The pressure has also been mounting on Liverpool away from the board room with manager Gerard Houllier expected to leave the club in the next 24 hours, several British newspapers reported yesterday. 

Thaksin, a telecoms-tycoon turned politician, said on Saturday he would pursue other clubs if the Liverpool talks collapsed. 

On Monday, he added that Pongsak's team would return to Bangkok by Wednesday. 

The Thais want two seats on the Liverpool board while the club are offering only one, Thai newspapers have reported. 

Liverpool are 51 percent owned by chairman David Moores, whose family has had control for half a century, and 9.9 percent by television company Granada. 

Thaksin has said Moores' holding would drop to around 35 percent if the deal went ahead and that the Thai offer would inject £45mil (US$80.7mil) into the club for new players and to help finance a bigger stadium. 

The rest will go to buy shares from existing shareholders. – Reuters 

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