Lottery plan to finance Liverpool deal axed

BANGKOK: Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday abandoned his controversial plans to launch a special public lottery to fund a proposed 30 percent share purchase of English football club Liverpool. 

Thaksin's retreat followed mounting public criticism over the scheme that would have seen a government-owned entity issue millions of lottery tickets expected to generate an unprecedented 10 billion baht (US$245.9mil). 

“I have to listen to the criticism that (the lottery plan) is incorrect, and so I must withdraw,” the billionaire tycoon-turned-politician told reporters. 

The retreat is a setback for Thailand's lofty plans to buy into one of the world's most famous football clubs. 

Under the proposal, lottery players would have had a chance to win a one billion baht (US$24.59mil) jackpot. 

“It must be stopped, as one billion baht ... may trigger the people's lust and I totally understand that,” he added. 

Thaksin said he had “alternative” backup plans for the funding, and while he did not elaborate on the options he reiterated that no taxpayer money would bankroll the purchase if the deal valued at US$100-US$115mil goes ahead. 

The premier has said Liverpool has agreed in principle to sell a 30 percent stake in the club, but last-minute problems and checks of the club's financial and legal standing mean the final signing may be delayed until July. – AFP 

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