Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hicks set to fight Liverpool sale

Tom Hicks (left) and George Gillett
Hicks (right) and Gillett took over at Liverpool in February 2007

Tom Hicks has vowed to fight the £300m sale of Liverpool in the High Court.

Reds directors agreed the deal with New England Sports Ventures, but Hicks and co-owner George Gillett claim they changed the board and stopped the sale.

However, chairman Martin Broughton has stated that the American duo did not have the power to change the board.

The issue is now set for a legal dispute with Hicks telling BBC 5 live's Brian Alexander in an email: "That's why there are laws and courts."

The Liverpool board consisting of chairman Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre outvoted Hicks and Gillett in agreeing the sale.

Liverpool commercial director Ian Ayre (left) and managing director Christian Purslow
Hicks claims Ayre (left) and Purslow were removed from the Reds board

However, Hicks and Gillett claim Purslow and Ayre were replaced - believed to be by Hicks's son, Mack Hicks, and Lori Kay McCutcheon, a vice president at Hicks Holdings - giving the owners a majority on the board and with it the ability to block any sale.

When asked about the takeover by Alexander, Hicks replied: "We legally reconstituted the board and the board does not approve of this transaction."

Then asked how he and Gillett could block the move, Hicks added: "We have removed Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre."

Hicks and Gillett believe that the deal with NESV undervalues the Merseyside outfit and, if it were to go through, would see them lose about £140m.

However, Broughton, who was brought in to oversee the sale of the club in April 2007, insisted on Wednesday that he and the rest of the board have the authority to push through a sale.

"When I took the role they gave a couple of written undertakings to Royal Bank of Scotland - that I was the only person entitled to change the board and that they would take no action to frustrate any reasonable sale," said Broughton.

"I think they flagrantly abused both of those written undertakings. I have the casting vote."

Dan Roan, BBC sports news

The issue is now set to go to the High Court next week, while the Premier League also has to ratify the deal, though it is thought to be happy with NESV's proposed business plan.

If a ruling goes the way of Hicks and Gillett then the pair will have to negotiate the hurdle of the 15 October deadline set by Royal Bank of Scotland to repay the £240m of loans and £40m of fees they are owed.

RBS could then place Liverpool into administration, with the possibility of selling the club to NESV remaining .

NESV says it will remove "all acquisition debt" if it buys the club and Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is looking forward to the arrival of a group which also owns American baseball team Boston Red Sox.

"It's very positive and of course I'm delighted," he told the Liverpool website . "It's been going on a long time and I know how hard the board have worked to set things up.

"I know it's not easy for them because the owners have other ideas in terms of the sale of the club and what is achievable.

"But I was delighted to hear the news and have it confirmed that it looks like it is going to go through."

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