Gillett top bidder for English soccer club |

Gillett top bidder for English soccer club

VAIL ” The former owner of the Vail ski company could add one of Europe’s most prestigious soccer clubs to his portfolio within days. Half the club, that is.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks is entering a deal with Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett to bid the Liverpool Football Club for $450 million.

Hicks and Gillett were spotted together at last week’s NHL All-Star Game and have worked together on the Swift Company executive board.

This would signify the first time two sports team owners have gone 50-50 in purchasing a sports team based overseas.

British newspapers are reporting that George Gillett is the last investor left standing in a scramble to buy the Liverpool Football Club, one of Europe’s most storied soccer teams. Bidding rivals Dubai International Capital dramatically pulled out of negotiations late Thursday, leaving Gillett as the only serious bidder. Now he is joined by HIcks.

DIC, the investment arm of the Dubai government abandoned its massive £450 million ($885 million) bid over a squabble sparked by the Liverpool Football Club’s demands for an extra £8 million ($15.7 million), according to the Liverpool Daily Post.

Gillett’s offer topped the DIC’s by £500 ($983) per share, the Post reported.

Gillett has played his cards close to the vest through months of speculation about any possible future involvement with the legendary Liverpool Football Club.

Donald Beauchamp, vice president for communications with the Montreal Canadiens, said media speculation has been rampant for the last few months.

Through it all, neither Beauchamp nor Gillett have had anything to say.

“Not a word, not a statement,” Beauchamp said after Thursday’s latest developments.

Gillett bought the Canadiens from the Molson brewing company a few years ago.

Speculation quickly spread through the team’s fans that he would move the team to the U.S. As part of his purchase, he had to pledge to keep the team in Canada.

The Canadiens are playing well and Beauchamp said fans have embraced Gillett.

Gillett bought the Vail ski company in the late 1980s for $65 million. Under his ownership, Vail rose to become one of the premiere ski resorts in North America and the world. Freefalling investments in the television industry forced him into bankruptcy a few years later, and he lost the company to Apollo Partners.

The Liverpool Daily Post reported that Dubai International Capital, owned by Sheikh Mohammed, felt Liverpool Football Club Chairman David Moores was playing the Gillett and the DIC against each other. Thursday night, the football club confirmed a decision on its future would be made in the next few days.

Liverpool Football Club officials have been impressed with the way Gillett carried out negotiations, but the clincher was the extra cash on the offer, the Liverpool Daily Post reported.

The Liverpool Football Club dominated much of European soccer in the 1970s and early 1980s, winning the English Premiere League and European championships. Its fans are anxious about their club’s future.

The club’s board of directors unanimously declared Gillett the best option after the Dubai offer collapsed.

Club Chief Executive Rick Parry asked the fans to trust them.

“We had a duty as directors to consider a very interesting bid from George Gillett,” Parry told the Liverpool Daily Post. “The DIC response to this was to give the club 12 hours to make a decision, but the chairman was not prepared to have Liverpool Football Club bullied like that.

“We would also stress this is not a question of going for the second choice,” Parry said to the Post. “We have not been left high and dry but the focus is on George Gillett. There are other expressions of interest but we hope to conclude a deal going forward with George Gillett.”

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