One of the most powerful men in the Asian video games market has reportedly held preliminary talks with Liverpool FC owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett about a possible buyout of the football club.
The Independent reports that Zhu Jun, founder and chairman of Chinese online gaming giant The9, is sincerely interested” in taking control of the struggling Premier League team. Two meetings have already taken place, it is claimed.
Jun already owns Chinese Super League team Shanghai Shenhua. A possible price tag of 800m is being touted by the Chinese press.
Liverpool's American owners, who have been unpopular with the Anfield crown ever since their arrival in early 2007, put the club on the market earlier this season. After a disappointing season that saw Liverpool finish seventh, rumours persist that manager Rafael Benitez is to leave the club.
Any new owner would likely be welcomed with open arms by the Kop loyalists.
The9 owns the exclusive operation and distribution rights for World of Warcraft in China. Publisher EA signed a deal with The9 in 2008 in an effort to try and up its presence in the region. Titles under the The9 banner include Guild Was, Hellgate: London and FIFA Online 2.