Saudi prince wary of Liverpool debt level

LONDON: Prince Faisal bin Fahad bin Abdulla, who has expressed an interest in becoming an investor at Liverpool, has said he would be unwilling to buy into the club if the debts are too high. Barry Didato, director of strategic investments for the Saudi prince's investment vehicle F6, has claimed that Prince Faisal may consider buying out the shareholdings of co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks in full, although the Americans last month denied they were in talks with the prince to sell 50% of the club.

Didato said today that Prince Faisal is still keen on investing in Liverpool but that he has no interest in becoming involved in the relationship between Gillett and Hicks, which has not always run smoothly.

"His Highness's shareholding could go from anything from nought to 100%," Didato told BBC Sport. "But he cannot be seen as a solution to the debt or problems in the existing relationship between the owners.

"His Highness would not want to get involved in the [problems between the pair], he is not a marriage counsellor. The debt has to be at a manageable level before Prince Faisal would invest and the current level is high. He cannot be looked to as someone who is going to clean up the balance sheet – Gillett has to deal with this."

Gillett and Hicks last week issued a joint statement, stressing that any talks to bring in new investment were "at an early stage".

Prince Faisal recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Gillett regarding the American's Nascar interests and to sponsor Liverpool youth academies in Saudi Arabia and north Africa. However, neither Hicks nor Gillett are believed to view Prince Faisal as a serious investor in Liverpool despite the fact that their search for new investment partners has now intensified. The Americans are under pressure from the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia to reduce the club's debt which, following the latest refinancing deal in July, now stands at around £245m.