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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Liverpool owners admit defeat, put club up for sale

MANCHESTER, England (AP) Liverpool's American owners put the Premier League club up for sale Friday, heralding the end of their three-year tenure after mounting pressure from banks and furious fans.

News photo
Quick chat: Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho has a word with star striker Samuel Eto'o during their Serie A match against Juventus on Friday night. Inter won 2-0. AP PHOTO

Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. have finally conceded they no longer have the resources to strengthen the team and build the new stadium they promised after buying the 18-time English champions.

Amid their own feuding and heated protests by fans, the businessmen tried in vain for more than two years to find an investor willing to pump money into the club and reduce the debt of $364 million resulting from their leveraged takeover.

Hicks and Gillett on Friday selected Barclays Bank to lead the search for a buyer, while hiring British Airways chairman Martin Broughton to assume the same role at Anfield and oversee the sale.

"There has been a long process of Hicks and Gillett looking for investors — the decision has now been made to exit," said Broughton, who is a fan of Premier League rival Chelsea. "This is not the ad hoc process that has been along so far."

Broughton said a takeover would be completed "in a matter of months." Hicks and Gillett would be expecting at least $770 million, which Dubai International Capital offered in 2008 and was rejected by the squabbling owners.

"Owning Liverpool Football Club over these past three years has been a rewarding and exciting experience for us and our families," Hicks and Gillett said in a statement. "We have now decided together to look to sell the club to owners committed to take the club through its next level of growth and development."

Hicks and Gillett also have been shoring up their financial positions in the United States.

Gillett sold the NHL's Montreal Canadiens, the Gillett Entertainment Group and the Bell Centre back to the Molson family for $580 million last year.

According to his son Foster, who is also an Anfield director, Gillett is selling Liverpool to provide the funds to help him retain NASCAR team Richard Petty Motorsports.

"As far as we're concerned as a family, and everything that is involved in NASCAR, the more liquidity we have as a family, the better it is for (the) NASCAR (team)," Foster Gillett said from Texas Motor Speedway.

Inter back on top

MILAN , Italy (AP) Maicon scored a spectacular goal and Samuel Eto'o added a second in injury time to give Inter Milan a 2-0 win over 10-man Juventus on Friday that reclaimed the Serie A lead.

Inter Milan has 70 points, while AS Roma has 68 ahead of its game against Lazio on Sunday.

Maicon downed the ball on his knee and juggled it twice in the air to elude an opponent before volleying it into the net from outside the area in the 75th minute.

Juventus had been playing for a draw following Mohamed Sissoko's sending off in the first half, but Eto'o added the second goal in injury time by tapping in Sulley Muntari's low cross.

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