Barclays has been brought in by the owners of Liverpool Football Club in a move that could lead to the sale of the business, it has emerged.
The bank, which is the main sponsor of the Premier League, is to assess the options for the club through its Barclays Capital arm.
Liverpool, which has been the subject of refinancing speculation recently, will also install Martin Broughton of British Airways as chairman as part of the move.
It is thought the move would calm fears about Liverpool amid ongoing disagreements between the team's US owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, over strategy and financing.
Fans have campaigned to oust the pair, who have built up debts of £237 million.
It is understood lender Royal Bank of Scotland will continue to be involved with the club, despite reports that Barclays would move to replace existing banks RBS and US firm Wachovia.
According to the Sunday Times, the Barclays deal could provide additional funds for club manager Rafa Benitez.
Mr Benitez suggested Liverpool may need to spend as much as £60 million in the summer to buy at least three new players to reinvigorate his squad if they are to challenge for the Barclays Premier League title next season.
The report said Barclays was attracted to the club by an increase in its sponsorship revenue and the progress it has made on building a new stadium, which it is thought would allow it to financially compete with teams like Manchester United.
Liverpool is understood to have been valued at around £500 million by analysts, but Barclays is thought to believe it could fetch substantially more if it had time to improve trading.
The move comes amid financial strains across English football as high player wages and huge debt levels weigh heavily.
Portsmouth fell into administration earlier this year, while Manchester United have found itself the subject of takeover speculation.
Barclays and Liverpool's owners declined to comment yesterday.