The Royal Bank of Scotland is preparing to take over Liverpool Football Club as the search for a buyer looks increasingly likely to end in failure, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
Negotiations last week, including with Chinese sports tycoon Kenny Huang and the Syrian businessman Yahya Kirdi, proved fruitless, said The Sunday Times.
None of the buyers was able to prove they had the money, said the paper, citing sources close to the talks.
If a new owner cannot be found, the Premier League club's main lender RBS -- which is 83-percent owned by the British taxpayer following a huge bailout during the financial crisis -- may have to take it over, added the report.
Liverpool owes the bank 237 million pounds (370 million dollars, 290 million euros) which must be repaid by October 6 or a penalty fee of 60 million pounds will be due.
The bank wants to find a credible bidder by the end of this month. RBS is not keen to seize the club but talks have taken place with officials at Anfield in case the search for a buyer fails, said The Sunday Times.
If RBS took control, there would likely be a new bidding round, added the paper.
Liverpool was put on the market by American co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillet in April after RBS lost patience with the club's mounting debts.
Reports have said Huang's bid is being funded by the Chinese government but the businessman has remained tight-lipped on the matter.