Liverpool's American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr., are having problems selling the club that they bought in 2007, according to The Times.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, who has been trying to purchase the club for the last two years, has withdrawn his offer and dropped his interest in obtaining the club from the Americans.

Amanda Staveley, who has been negotiating on Sheikh Mohammed's behalf since the beginning of this year, has informed the club's current owners that the current world economic climate and their own refusal to lower their $890 million evaluation of the club means that the Sheikh is no longer interested.

Staveley also crushed suggestions that this was merely a bargaining ruse by informing the Americans' legal teams that there was no chance of a bid being revived.

There is rumored to be one other Middle-Eastern party who is interested in buying the club, but desperation to find a buyer is growing as a $520 million loan agreement with Bank of Scotland and Wachovia expires on Jan. 25. Hicks and Gillett are hopeful that an extension to this will be granted.

The Americans could well find themselves high and dry and running out of potential buyers, something that will not please many Liverpool fans, many of whom were not particularly welcoming when Hicks and Gillett bought the club.

Discontent at the club grew when the new owners were unable to raise the finance needed to build a new stadium in Stanley Park, and there have been demonstrations at the club with spectators staying behind at games last season to chant "Yanks out!"

There is a possibility that this could open the way for a more serious bid from soccer academic Rogan Taylor's Share Liverpool FC group, which is looking to engineer a fans' buyout of the club so that it can be run along the same communal lines as Barcelona.

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