One of the world’s most famous football clubs was nearly bought by a “Dubai Sheikh” in 2010, according to a former professional footballer who was involved in the deal.
Speaking to the Glasgow Evening Times, Andy Lynch – who played 130 games for Scottish champions Glasgow Celtic between 1973 and 1980 – revealed that Liverpool FC was nearly sold to the unnamed Sheikh in a £400m ($500m) deal. But claims the acquisition fell through as a result of the club owners’ greed.
Withholding specific details due to a confidentiality agreement, Lynch revealed that he got involved in the potential deal when his agent started representing a conglomerate that wanted to buy a football club.
“He didn’t know much about football, asked me to get involved and [said] that there would be plenty of money in it. I was always dubious and wanted to know more,” Lynch is quoted as saying.
“I asked what club it was and he told me Liverpool. He then said; ‘They’re good aren’t they?’ This was all from a Sheikh in Dubai who had serious money and things quickly developed.”
But despite the initial moves, Lynch said that disagreements over money put an end to talks.
“The bottom line is their greed – the agent and his partners, and Liverpool’s greed… is what scuppered the deal.”
Liverpool’s owners at that time were Americans George Gillett and Tom Hicks, who bought the club in 2007 and sold it to Fenway Sports Group in October 2010.
Lynch said that the Dubai deal fell through at the last minute when the owners changed their mind about the sums involved, and that the Sheikh’s representative was wary of the club’s contingent.
“Right at the end the Sheikh’s representative didn’t trust anyone, and rightly so, although he quite liked me,” he said.
“He had a cheque for £400m, I was there, and he is about to put the cheque in and as this is happening I’m thinking I’m going to be a big player at Liverpool Football Club. In fact I was already looking in Scotland for some professional people to help me.
“But then Hicks, Gillet and this agent guy decided they got the money too easily, there was no question about the original figure so they added on something extra and the Sheikh told his guy to tear up the cheque and come home.”
This wasn’t the first time the club was in line to be taken over by a group in Dubai.
In 2007, Dubai International Capital almost bought Liverpool for $360m but eventually lost out to Gillett and Hicks.
The club was also at the centre of takeover rumours earlier this year, after British newspaper The Daily Star said a family member of the UAE’s deputy prime minister, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, had set aside close to $1bn to buy the club.