Saturday, October 9, 2010

Liverpool chief fears administration

Martin Broughton
Broughton was made Liverpool chairman in April 2010

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton fears the club is at risk of entering administration, leaving it devalued and "wide open to predators".

New England Sports Ventures' proposed £300m takeover of the club is set to be opposed in court by Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett on Friday.

Liverpool owe £280m to Royal Bank of Scotland and must pay by 15 October.

Broughton believes failure to sell, and thus raise funds to pay the bank, would be "catastrophic" for the club.

Reds co-owners Hicks and Gillett oppose the sale as they value Liverpool at double NESV's bid, but they are out-voted by the rest of the board.

BBC Sport understands that RBS is pushing to have the owners' opposition to the sale heard in the High Court on Monday, in order to leave as much time as possible before the deadline.

If the American pair succeed in their opposition to the takeover, they would need to repay or refinance the debt or their holding company could face administration.

If the latter occurs it would result in the Premier League handing the club a nine-point penalty.

Any loss of points could prove perilous for Liverpool given the club currently lie in the relegation zone, having picked up only six points from seven games.


And Broughton also has concerns that administration could make the club less attractive to prospective buyers.

"Setting aside the nine-point deduction, it would have an impact on Liverpool's value and be wide open to predators, whereas we have what we believe is the right new owners to take the club forward," he told ESPN.

"This is all part of why it is important that we made the decision on Tuesday to accept one or the other of two very acceptable bids.

"Heading into administration was a very likely outcome if we didn't. Even now with the court case looming, administration cannot be ruled out."

Whenever Hicks and Gillett's case is eventually heard, thousands of Liverpool fans are expected to make the journey to London to voice their protest over the duo's ownership of the club.

Should the pair be unsuccessful in court and NESV go ahead with their bid to buy Liverpool - a proposal which has been approved by the Premier League - Reds boss Roy Hodgson could expect to face discussions on his future.

Broughton says that is a situation Hodgson was aware of when he arrived at Anfield and that a break clause in his contract addresses the possibility that new owners may want to bring in their own man.

"Provisions were made in Roy's contract to relate specifically to any change in ownership," Broughton said.

The chairman said he expected Hodgson to continue as manager, but added: "He came to the club knowing full well the circumstances and the risks attached to it."

Broughton added that he believed that in NESV, who own the Boston Red Sox, he had found the right buyers to take the club forward.

But he also admitted to having searched the world looking for potential suitors with very large pockets such as those at Premier League rivals Chelsea, owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.

"We hoped for someone who wanted a 'trophy asset', but having scoured the world without finding one, the conclusion is that there are no more Romans out there," he said.

Potenshöjande medel -

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