Former Celtic player Andy Lynch has revealed how he was involved in negotiations between a Dubai Sheikh’s attempt to buy Liverpool Football Club from George Gillett and Tom Hicks.
The deal collapsed at the 11th hour when the American owners started changing their demands, a move which Lynch describes as nothing more than “greed”.
Lynch, who is currently promoting his autobiography, ‘Hoops, Stars and Stripes: The Andy Lynch story’, told The Glasgow Evening Times: “I can’t say everything because I signed a confidentiality clause which is unfortunate because I could have said a lot more.
“I was in Australia when my agent, based in Montreal and a fly-man, told me he was representing a conglomerate that wanted to buy a football club. He didn’t know much about football, asked me to get involved and that there would be plenty of money in it. I was always dubious and wanted to know more.
“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.
“The bottom line is their greed – the agent and his partners – and Liverpool’s greed, they were owned by the Americans George Gillett and Tom Hicks back then, is what scuppered the deal. This went on for months. I was flown first class everywhere, stayed in the top hotels in London, they put me up in a £1000 a night suite and I’m thinking ‘These guys are awfy generous’. The penny then dropped. They were using Liverpool’s money and not their own. They ran up a huge debt at the club. The then owners were only paying the interest on a bank loan. They put nothing into the club.
“Right at the end, the Sheikh’s representative didn’t trust anyone, and rightly so, although he quite liked me. He had the cheque for £400m, I was there, and he is about to put the cheque in and as this 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.”
Although Lynch doesn’t reveal names, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan made a couple of attempts to buy the club prior to Fenway Sports Group (FSG) securing ownership in a deal that former LFC chief Christian Purslow described a ‘bottle of the barrel deal’. FSG’s John Henry later admitted in a private email that they were “stealing this franchise”.
The rest, like Lynch’s footballing days, is history.
- Recommended video: BBC interview with Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum