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Old 5th August 2010, 11:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Huang set to give Hodgson £150m vote of confidence

Tony Barrett, Tony Evans

Roy Hodgson will keep his job as Liverpool manager and be handed £150 million to spend on new players if the Chinese Government’s bid to buy the club proves successful.

As revealed in The Times today, Kenny Huang, the Hong Kong-based businessman, is fronting the bid by China Investment Corporation (CIC), the overseas investment arm of the Chinese Government. A formal offer has still to be lodged, but although there is interest from other parties, Huang — backed by the wealth of one of the fastest-growing economies in the world — is believed to be the front-runner to complete a purchase.

CIC is prepared to back Hodgson by bankrolling a number of high-profile signings and has made a commitment to build a new stadium.

Liverpool are also attracting interest from the Rhône Group, the New York-based fund management firm, and the al-Kharafi family from Kuwait. Yahya Kirdi, a Canadian-based businessman from Syria, claimed yesterday that he is close to finalising a deal, but it is understood that he is negotiating only with George Gillett Jr, the club’s co-owner, and has not been involved with RBS, which holds Liverpool’s £237 million debt, or Barclays Capital, the investment bank overseeing the sale.

After his appointment as the successor to Rafael Benítez in July, Hodgson said that the possibility of a takeover had been a factor in discussions before he signed a three-year contract and revealed that clauses had been inserted in the deal affording him financial protection in the event of new owners deciding to replace him as manager.

The Chinese, though, have no desire to dispose of the 62-year-old, who insists that the situation has not prevented him from going about his job in the right manner.

“I knew when I came to the club that a takeover may or may not come about, that it may come about quickly or it may take a lot of time,” Hodgson said. “But I was given assurances that I would be allowed to do the job in the right way and that’s certainly been the case since I’ve been here.”

Asked would it be easier for the club to plan ahead under new owners, he said: “That’s for sure. But I don’t want to go down the ownership route because I don’t know enough about it, apart from knowing that, at the moment, unfortunately the owners we have are very unpopular with the fans. They know it and that is why they are prepared to sell the club.”

Hodgson takes charge of Liverpool at Anfield for the first time tonight when his team take a 2-0 lead into the second leg of the Europa League third qualifying round tie with Rabotnicki, of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The manager is not willing to allow either himself or his players to hide behind the uncertainty surrounding the club, and insists that they must be masters of their own fortune.

Fernando Torres, who pledged his commitment to Liverpool yesterday, had recently called on the club to match his ambition by signing “four or five” top-class players, but Hodgson says that it is the responsibility of those already at the club to shape the future.

“As a player you have the chance to change things,” Hodgson said. “If you don’t think the team is doing as well as it should, as a player you can do something about it. If you are a big player, maybe you will. My attitude is that we want our big players because they are big players and they will help the team to win.

“Now if they are not playing well and not helping the team to win, I will be advising them to look into the mirror rather than look for excuses elsewhere and blame the owners for not having spent £500 million.

“I am just sceptical about comments where players are questioning the club’s ambition.”

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