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Chinese government in fray to buy Liverpool FC

Club hope that deal will be concluded by the end of the month

Chinese tycoon Kenny Huang is launching a takeover bid financed by the Chinese government for Liverpool football club, the Times has reported.

China's overseas investment arm China Investment Corporation (CIC), which has a stake in Britain's Canary Wharf, is funding the bid for the debt-laden club.

The Royal Bank of Scotland, which is Liverpool's lender, reportedly forced the club's current American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, into the sale. Martin Broughton, who was brought in as temporary chairman of the club in April, is hoping to complete the deal before the end of the month.

CIC, which has £209bn to spend, would end up with majority ownership of the club if the bid -- which values Liverpool at between £300m and £350m -- is successful.

However, CIC is understood to be willing to only repay RBS' and Barclays Capital's debt, without providing a return on their investment.

The other bidders in the race for the football club are the al-Kharafi family from Kuwait and the New York based Rhone Group - an American private equity fund.

The sale by Barcap, Barclays' investment banking arm, must be cleared by the Premier League.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.