A potential takeover that could have helped Liverpool forge strong links with Spanish second tier side Malaga now looks to be off.

RedBird Capital Partners, the US private equity firm fronted by New York financier Gerry Cardinale that took an 11 per cent stake in Reds owners Fenway Sports Group back in March, had been seen as the frontrunners for a takeover at the Spanish side once the club's messy legal issues had been dealt with.

RedBird had seen Malaga as a potential fit for the next stage of their bid to grow their own multi-club portfolio, one that saw them acquire a majority shareholding in French second division side Toulouse last summer.

Malaga, a club still embroiled in a messy legal saga over ownership due to a row between major shareholders Sheikh Abdullah ben Nasser Al Thani and the Bluebay Hotel Group, have been under the control of a court appointed judicial administrator, José María Muñoz, since last year and he was tasked with helping to bring on board potential partners to take part in a capital increase with a view to taking a majority shareholding in the club, who made the quarter finals of the Champions League back in 2013.

Cardinale's firm took a small stake in Andalusian side, with around 600 shares bought for a value of just £15,500 (€18,000). With the club still laden with debt and the league having been seeking financial assurances, there was a need for a capital increase - with Muñoz making it a stipulation that any party taking part in the capital increase needed to have a seat at the table and take a stake in the club, hence the small shareholding taken by RedBird.

Last month it looked as if RedBird had taken a major step forward when a court decision was upheld in the row between Al Thani and Bluebay.

Charges were brought against Al Thani in 2020 over his role in the misappropriation of funds, to the tune of around £7m according to reports, with the sale of stakes from smaller shareholders funnelled into the Al Thani family's personal and business accounts.

Those charges saw him removed as president for an initial six months by a Spanish regional court last year, a suspension that has been extended, while the future of the club is determined.

In 2019 Al Thani and Bluebay went to court over a contractual dispute. The decision handed down then was upheld last month and ruled that the 97 per cent of the club's shares, which were under the control of Al Thani, should be returned to the firm that Al Thani and Bluebay co-owned, NAS Spain 2000, where the Malaga owner and BlueBay had a shareholding of 51 per cent and 49 per cent respectively.

That ruling was to pave the way for the capital increase and, later, a full takeover.

But reports in Spain state that RedBird and Malaga have suffered a breakdown in communication and the Spanish side will look towards their second second choice after the US firm had been deemed to be their preferred firm of the five in the mix.

Last week, Antonio Aguilera , president of the Malaga minority shareholders, told Radio Marca Malaga: "The demands of RedBird Capital have not pleased José María Muñoz and at the moment there are contractual problems to close the credit line."

The radio station's website state that 'broken relationships' have forced administrators to 'designate another company' after a month-long dispute over the terms of the €8.6m credit policy that was designed to allow for greater financial security for the La Rosaleda outfit, who have been in a tailspin in recent years owing to the ramifications of Al Thani's overspending and the subsequent legal wrangling.

Spanish media outlet Malaga Hoy stated that 'RedBird Capital required that the loan from the credit policy be repaid in club shares without going through the necessary capital increase', something that Muñoz refused outright.

For Liverpool, a successful acquisition of Malaga could have been potentially beneficial further down the line, with FSG having stated their intention from the outset of the RedBird $750m deal back in March that there could be a simpatico relationship to be had when growing their sporting portfolio.

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FSG have mulled over options to purchase other European football clubs in a bid to try and replicate what the City Football Group have done with Manchester City, but by having RedBird already very much invested in their own course in that respect there are potential benefits that Liverpool could reap through having partnerships with RedBird owned clubs.

New rules around Brexit and player transfers have made it more difficult to snag top European talent, with players over 18 having to meet a strict Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) points quota in order to sign from overseas. The points take into account strength of competition they are arriving from, how many games played and what their international recognition has been, among other criteria.

Signing players under the age of 18 from the European Union is now off limits when before it was allowed. Players such as Academy stars Mateusz Musialowski, Melkamu Frauendorf and Billy Koumetio would all have been prohibited to sign had their deals not been finalised before the implementation of the new rules at the start of 2021.

Other positives that arise can be having a place to home and develop talent, maximising commercial partnerships, sharing best practice and adopting a uniform style of play that filters from top to bottom.

RedBird are looking at adding another three clubs to their portfolio and looked at more than 80 before they landed on Toulouse. If their interest in Malaga is to be ended, which now looks likely, they will move on to other targets.

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