By Andy Kelly

Chief reporter Andy Kelly examines how Liverpool’s Champions League run ups the stakes in the battle for control of the club

Liverpool’s stunning run to the 2005 Champions League final has offered the club “breathing space” in its search for a major financial investor, it was claimed last night.

Some sources believe the march to Istanbul may even have scuppered any remaining hopes property magnet Steve Morgan had of launching a successful takeover of the club.

LFC has held talks with a number of different backers, including third-largest shareholder Morgan, about possible deals but none has been acceptable to the Liverpool board.

Leading football finance expert James Dow, who has advised the likes of Barcelona, Ajax and Celtic, said the financial bonanza of a place in the final would ease the pressure on finding new investment.

Mr Dow, of Warrington based corporate finance group Dow Schofield Watts, said: “It’s difficult to be precise about how much the Champions League run will be worth to Liverpool but it is probably in the region of £22m, possibly rising to £25m. “I think this whole run in the Champions League is why there has been little recent talk about the need for new investment in the club. “The Champions League has bought LFC some time in terms of cash flow.”

Sources at Anfield estimate the Champions League run to be worth as much as £28m, much needed in the wake of last November’s club accounts which showed record losses of £21.9m. It has almost certainly increased the value of the club, something which will make it all the more difficult for former Redrow supremo Morgan to offer a deal acceptable to club chairman David Moores.

Mr Dow said: “It’s not just about people wanting to invest in the club, it’s investing at the right price, and having a deal which will be attractive to the club board and particularly David Moores who owns half the club.”

LFC chief executive Rick Parry accepts a Champions League final will take the heat off the club’s board. He said: “It has been a tough year, but this success is what it is all about. Everything else pales into insignificance because at this club it is what happens on the pitch that is important. What could be better than this?”

Liverpool will continue to look for financial investment, which could include major sponsorship for the proposed new stadium in Stanley Park. He said: “It’s not exposure we want but trophies. As Shanks said, ‘first is first and second is nowhere’. It’s all about silverware. “But it can’t do any harm to our aims for the new stadium and money coming in. “But first and foremost it is the glory that matters.”

There is a bonus of 10m Swiss francs (around £4.5m) for the winners compared to the 6m for the runners-up (around £2.7m).

But Mr Dow believes the club would benefit more financially if it lost in Istanbul.

Mr Dow said: “Ironically it might be better in purely financial terms for the club to lose in the final because I’m sure the players and management are on huge bonuses to win the competition.

“The impact of winning on the Liverpool brand is difficult to assess though and I’m sure everybody associated with the club, including finance director Les Wheatley, will want nothing but victory.”

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