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Liverpool draws Krafts' interest--Boston Globe

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From todays Globe......

FOXBOROUGH -- The Kraft family is interested in investing in British soccer. But the Krafts are maintaining a much smaller role in bidding for Liverpool Football Club than Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer is in his pursuit of Manchester United.

Liverpool FC, founded in 1892, is among the most storied of English clubs, but has declined since the 1980s, struggling to match standards set in the pre-Premiership years and to overcome major stadium tragedies. Liverpool is valued at 100 million British pounds, according to the Financial Times. Manchester United, a publicly licensed company, is worth more than 1 billion pounds.

Unlike Glazer, who is attempting a hostile takeover of Manchester United, the Krafts are proceeding at a slow pace. A Kraft Soccer spokesman refused comment yesterday and Revolution coach Steve Nicol, a former Liverpool star, said he had "no clue" about the situation.

The driving force behind the bid for Liverpool is film producer Mike Jeffries, a Liverpool native who is based in Santa Monica, Calif. Jeffries heads L4, a consortium that includes Stuart Ford, senior vice president of acquistions at Miramax Studios, and Milkshake Films, currently involved in a three-part series backed by the Federation Internationale de Football Association. The first film to be released is entitled "Goal!" and casts actor Diego Luna as a Los Angeles-raised player who attempts a career in England.

Jeffries said he has discussed the deal with Liverpool FC chairman David Moores, who controls 51 percent of the club, and Keith Harris of Seymour Pierce Group PLC. Harris has defended Manchester United against the advances of Glazer.

Liverpool has rejected bids of 73 million pounds from businessman Steve Morgan and another from Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who heads a business consortium. Liverpool FC was expected to announce debts of 21 million pounds at its annual general meeting last night.

Liverpool is seeking fresh investment in anticipation of building a new stadium, possibly in conjunction with city rival Everton. Chief executives Rick Parry of Liverpool and Everton's Bill Kenwright, a former manager of the Beatles, met this week in London to discuss the stadium-sharing proposal that could be bolstered by 30 million pounds of public funds. The proposed 61,000-capacity stadium would be located in Stanley Park, near Anfield, which has been Liverpool's home since the 1890s, and Everton's Goodison Park.

Liverpool has 18 English League titles, five FA Cup victories, and four European Cup titles. Liverpool last won the European Cup in 1984 and the First Division in 1990, but has seldom been a strong factor since.

Liverpool's appearance in the 1985 European Cup final in Brussels was marred by fan violence. Overcrowded conditions led to the deaths of 95 Liverpool supporters during the 1989 FA Cup semifinals in Sheffield. But those tragedies led to major changes in stadium standards in Britain, presaging vast investment from sponsors and television in the Premier League.

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