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Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010

Sports investor Huang offers to buy Liverpool's debt

LONDON (AP) A Chinese businessman with a minority stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers has offered to buy Liverpool's $374 million debt from a British bank in an attempt to end Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr.'s control of the English Premier League club.

News photo
Cash on hand: Chinese businessman Kenny Huang has offered to buy Liverpool's $374 million debt from a British bank in a takeover attempt of the Premier League club. AP PHOTO

A person familiar with the situation said Monday that Kenny Huang is in talks with Royal Bank of Scotland. The person was not authorized to talk to the media and spoke on condition of anonymity.

American co-owners Hicks and Gillett bought Liverpool three years ago but have put it up for sale after a public fallout over the running of the club.

Huang, who is co-chair of both the National Basketball League of China and Chinese Baseball League, has made no announcement but has appointed a British media relations firm to represent him "in respect of his interest" in the Liverpool team.

Huang was the first Chinese college graduate from mainland China to work at the New York Stock Exchange, in 1988. He negotiated the purchase of a 15 percent stake in the NBA's Cavaliers in May 2009 and is director and co-founder of SportsCorp China, the New York Yankees' exclusive marketing partner in China.

Huang was first linked to a takeover of the 18-time English champions two years ago. The purchase of the debt would not make him the club owner but would give him great influence over Hicks and Gillett.

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson said last month he wants the uncertainty resolved as soon as possible, giving him time to bring in new players before the transfer window closes Aug. 31. There is no set deadline for the talks with the bank.

Hicks and Gillett bought Liverpool in February 2007 for what was then $431 million in a leveraged takeover. The club lost $23.5 million before tax last season, a steep drop from a healthy profit the previous year. But the Americans still value it at $948 million.

Hicks and Gillett promised to build a 60,000-seat stadium to help the club compete financially with Manchester United and Arsenal, but construction was halted in August 2008 because of the global economic crisis.

Manchester United's Old Trafford holds 76,000 fans and Arsenal moved from 38,000-seat Highbury into the 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium in 2006.

Bulls land Marquez

SECAUCUS , N.J. (AP) Mexican national team captain Rafael Marquez signed Monday with Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls, two days after he was released by Barcelona.

The 31-year-old defender joined former Barcelona teammate Thierry Henry on the Red Bulls. Henry made his MLS debut Saturday at Houston, forming an impressive front line with Juan Pablo Angel.

"Coming to New York and playing in Major League Soccer was a chance that I could not refuse," Marquez said in a statement released by his new team. "I am committed to doing my very best to help the Red Bulls in their playoff push this year and compete for championships in the years to come."

Marquez, Angel and Henry give the Red Bulls three high-priced designated players not subject to the league's salary budget.

Marquez, who may play midfield for the Red Bulls, was to be introduced at a news conference Tuesday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison.

He had 13 goals in 242 matches with Barcelona, helping win two Champions League titles, four Spanish league championships, a European Supercup and a Copa del Rey trophy. Before joining the Spanish power, he was with Monaco from 1999-03.

Cabanas deposed

ASUNCION (AP) The Paraguayan soccer star who was shot in the head at point-blank range in a Mexico City bar in January has told a judge he has almost no memory of what happened.

Salvador Cabanas gave his deposition in the presence of Paraguayan and Mexican justice officials, judge Pedro Mayor Martinez said Monday.

"Cabanas doesn't know why he was attacked, his memories are vague and he can't remember faces," Mayor Martinez said. "He's lucid. But his short-term memory is limited and there is not much we can do about it."

Cabanas was playing for the Mexico City club America when he was shot Jan. 25. He was supposed to play for his country at the World Cup that ended July 11.

The alleged shooter, Jose Balderas Garza, remains at large. But an alleged accomplice, Francsico Barreto, told police the shooting took place just before dawn in a bathroom after an argument in which Balderas questioned Cabanas' scoring ability. Balderas was identified by a surveillance camera in the bar.

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