Takeover broker endures difficult times

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Keith Harris, the man who has brokered five Premier League takeover deals, believes the credit crunch could affect clubs seeking new owners as benefactors become more cautious.

Harris, who has masterminded deals at Chelsea, Aston Villa, Hull, West Ham and Manchester City and is seeking buyers for Newcastle and Everton, claims the economic downturn has made it tougher to find investors willing to risk moving into the top echelons of the game.

"It has never been more difficult to find buyers," said Harris.

He added: "It's no longer a question of price negotiation - it's should we? People are wondering if now is the time to spend."


Harris is particularly concerned
Liverpool may find themselves in financial difficulty if joint owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett fail to pay back a reported £350million worth of debt.

He also claims Merseyside rivals Everton are no longer a realistic proposition to be bought out.

"Liverpool's debt is due in January, with maybe a six-month extension," said Harris.

"The two banks which are the principal lenders - the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia - are two of those that have suffered. Whether they want to lend it again or not, they may not be able to."

Equally alarming, said Harris, was the situation at Everton where there has been no movement in terms of a buyer for the Goodison Park club who, like Liverpool, want to build a new stadium.

"There is no progress at all," said Harris, chairman of Seymour Pierce investment bank and a former Football League chairman.

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