A Red army is set to flock to London for what is being
billed as the most important days in Liverpool FC history.
D-Day is expected next week when hundreds of supporters will descend on
the High Court for the club’s critical ownership battle.
Liverpool are currently preparing a heavyweight legal case with
solicitors Slaughter and May as they seek a declaratory judgement to
formally seal the £300m Reds sale to New England Sports Ventures (NESV),
owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team.
If Tom Hicks and George Gillett decide to attend the Royal Courts of
Justice in person to oppose the move, the Americans have been promised a
Liverpool fan groups said many of them were planning to line the streets
of the Strand in the capital.
Today, James McKenna, spokesman for Spirit of Shankly, said there had
already been interest among supporters in heading to London.
He told the ECHO: "People have started talking about heading down to
London, particularly if Hicks and Gillett will be there. I do know
supporters have been discussing making their presence known.
"There’s only one door in and one door out of the court, so it’s a good
opportunity to make our feelings known."
Further scrutiny of New England Sports Ventures reveals they have made
assurances no money will ever be taken from Liverpool FC and used to
invest in the sports investment company back in Boston.
And executives have vowed to slash the club’s crippling £25m annual
interest repayments - triggered by Hicks and Gillett’s huge leveraged
stake at Anfield - to just £2m a year.
That would free up a significant sum of £23m each year to invest in the
playing squad or stadium, the ECHO believes.
The exact day when the Reds’ future will be played out by top barristers
in the courts as yet remains unknown.
But with the Royal Bank of Scotland deadline fast approaching, when the
owners must pay back their £237m debt, the matter will almost certainly
be listed before next Friday.
It is thought no formal approach has yet been made to list the case with
the High Court.
Her Majesty’s Courts Service said emergency matters, such as this, could
be given a slot within days.
Stephen Horner, member of Reds pressure group Kop Faithful, said: "We
want a speedy conclusion which will mean the debt is cleared and we can
move on with a new stadium.
"Fans are very keen this deal with New England is pushed over the line.
If (LFC chairman) Martin Broughton is pushing forward, clearly we have
carried out due diligence and this is right for the club. If protesting
outside the courts is something we feel we need to do, then we will do
it. Everyone wants a resolution sooner rather than later."
Liverpool are certain the ownership dispute will be resolved, either
way, by a week on Friday and the prospect of the legal battle rumbling
on for weeks or even months, as predicted by some finance experts, is a
scenario given little credence at Anfield.
Nigel Boardman, from Slaughter and May, is thought to be leading
Liverpool’s legal team, a man named by The Times in their 100 most
influential people in business.
And in an eye opening turn of events yesterday, the London-based branch
of a New-York law firm pointedly removed themselves from any association
from co-owner Tom Hicks.
After legal press reports named Weil, Gotshal & Manges as representing
the Texan at next week’s court hearing, top employees were bombarded
with emails from angry Reds.
Hours later, after being contacted by the ECHO, they issued a statement
which said: "We are not acting for the owners of Liverpool FC in
relation to the dispute with LFC. In addition, in our role advising the
owners, we have never acted, and would never act, adverse to Liverpool
After a frenetic 24 hours on Wednesday, with both Liverpool FC and Tom
Hicks issuing statements and counter-statements, yesterday was a period
of relative calm, publicly at least.
The Texan refused to expand on his position, curtly outlined in a
statement late on Wednesday, when he called Martin Broughton’s move to
sanction the NESV sale as unlawful.
Today, it also emerged how Boston Red Sox owner hedge fund manager John
Henry and NESV chairman Tom Werner, two of 17 stakeholders in the sports
investment company, had been on the verge of coming to Liverpool on
Wednesday, under the assumption their deal to take over the Reds was
But the trip, after negotiations with Martin Broughton in London were
cordially agreed, was cancelled after Hicks and Gillett’s dramatic
boardroom intervention which flung Liverpool’s future into a legal
The purchase of the club has been formally approved and papers signed,
despite the pending court battle.
If the English board members are successful, a few minor formalities
will be completed to give them the keys to Anfield, a stadium which has
already been visited by the Americans.
Tom Hicks, the embattled co-owner of Liverpool,
maintained today that he will fight the high court action launched by
the Anfield chairman, Martin Broughton, to force the American to sell
the club to New England Sports Ventures, the owners of the Boston Red
In his fierce public onslaught against Hicks and the Texan's fellow 50%
Liverpool owner, George Gillett, on Tuesday, Broughton said that by
resisting, the pair had "flagrantly abused" undertakings they had given
him and the Royal Bank of Scotland not to oppose a reasonable sale.
Broughton said they had abused the club's constitution, its articles of
association, by seeking to sack the managing director, Christian
Purslow, and commercial director, Ian Ayre, and replace them with
Hicks's son and his assistant, to give Hicks a majority on the board.
Liverpool's articles of association say only Broughton, as the chairman,
has the right to appoint or remove directors.
Broughton has been advised of his legal rights at every step by
Liverpool's solicitors Slaughter & May, one of the City of London's most
highly rated law firms, and he took advice from them yesterday. On that
basis he rejected Hicks's attempted boardroom coup. Broughton, Purslow
and Ayre approved the sale, then the chairman launched his public attack
on Hicks and Gillett. He is "confident" a high court judge will rule in
the board's favour when the case is heard next week, although he added:
"You can never be 100% confident when you go to court."
Hicks's spokesman in New York today set out the arguments which will
form the basis of the Texan's legal defence. Of the undertakings, which
Broughton says were given to him and to RBS, that Hicks and Gillett
would not oppose a reasonable sale, the spokesman said: "There were no
such undertakings given to Broughton."
He did not respond to a question about whether Hicks, as Broughton says,
had given the undertaking to RBS. The spokesman claimed Hicks did have
the right to sack and appoint directors: "The board has been legally
reconstituted," he said of Hicks's attempt, "and the new board does not
approve of this proposed transaction."
Broughton is relying on the articles of association, which give the
chairman the power to appoint and dismiss all directors apart from
Gillett and Hicks themselves. The key clause is paragraph 81a of the
30-page document, which says: "Each director appointed to the office of
chairman of the board of directors of the company may appoint any person
as a director of the company and may remove any director (other than
George N Gillett Jnr and/or Thomas O Hicks). Any appointment or removal
shall be made in writing and signed by the then current chairman."
Hicks's spokesman did not respond to requests to explain Hicks's claim
that the Texan did have the right nevertheless to reconstitute the
board, and whether he is contesting that the club's own articles of
association are valid.
Broughton insisted, as a condition of accepting his appointment in June,
that he be granted this power so that he could maintain a majority on
the board over Hicks and Gillett. The articles of association were
changed, introducing this right for the chairman, on 28 May, with the
close involvement of RBS, which had agreed to refinance its £237m loans
to Hicks and Gillett.
By law, changes to companies' articles of association require the
approval of 75% of the shareholders. So they needed to have been
approved by Hicks and Gillett themselves. Asked whether Hicks was
arguing he never saw the articles, or approved the changes, and does not
recognise them as having been legally introduced, the spokesman declined
A source close to the board said Broughton remains "confident" that the
power contained in the articles of association will be upheld, and that,
according to the undertaking with RBS, Hicks has no right to resist the
sale, because it is reasonable. Broughton, Purslow and Ayre have agreed
the deal by which NESV will repay to RBS the £200m Hicks and Gillett
borrowed to buy the club, then loaded on to the club to service the
debt. However, NESV will give the pair nothing for their shares, and
Hicks and Gillett will lose the £144m they have loaned to the parent
company, Kop Holdings.
Broughton justifies that deal as reasonable because after months of
Liverpool, one of the world's most famous football clubs, being publicly
up for sale, this offer, and another from a Singapore businessman the
board decided was not as good, were the only ones presented.
"You needed to be on another planet not to know [the club] was for
sale," Broughton said. "We have had inquiries as a result of that, we
have made inquiries ourselves, but not until this week have we had a
formal written proposal. We ended up with two, there weren't any others
– so by definition that is the market price."
That is what Hicks is desperately fighting, although he will mount his
battle on any of the details. He bought Liverpool with Gillett in 2007
believing that the growth, particularly, of Premier League television
rights deals would increase the club's value and make him a fortune. He
points in frustration to the $822m (£518m) valuation placed on Liverpool
by Forbes, the US business magazine, placing the club sixth in its 2010
"soccer team valuations".
However, after a search for a buyer which Broughton must persuade the
judge was as exhaustive as could be, NESV's is the best offer that could
be found: to repay the useless debt with which Hicks and Gillett saddled
the club and send them away, as Broughton put it, "humiliated".
Despite Liverpool's glorious heritage, no big pay day arrived, for a
club burdened with debt, a struggling squad, appalled supporters and a
stadium still to be developed. The legacy Hicks and Gillett will leave
behind is one of decline and broken promises.
Liverpool would be at risk of a nine-point deduction
if the owners' holding company is put into administration, it emerged
Initially it had been thought the Premier League would not penalise the
club for Kop Holdings becoming insolvent, but now the threat of a points
deduction has become a serious one.
The Royal Bank of Scotland could put Kop Holdings, the company owned by
Tom Hicks and George Gillett, into administration if the Americans
continue to block a takeover by New England Sports Ventures and have not
paid off their £280m (€319.25m) debt to the bank by October 15.
Under Premier League rules, the fact that the holding company is solely
concerned with the ownership of Liverpool and football-related matters
could trigger the nine-point penalty.
An insider told Press Association Sport: "It is not completely clear
whether the nine-point penalty would come into play but it would be a
West Ham has been used as an example of why the Reds might escape a
deduction if administration goes ahead when it was owned by Icelandic
However, the Hammers were a solvent part of a whole portfolio of
different companies while Kop Holdings is solely concerned with
Hicks and Gillett's legal action against the proposed takeover will
begin in the British High Court next week.
Dr Rogan Taylor, the University of Liverpool academic
who founded the ‘Share Liverpool’ scheme in 2008 to raise cash for a
fan-led buyout at Anfield, has told sportingintelligence today that the
potential new owners of the club, New England Sports Ventures, must
“differentiate themselves from Tom Hicks and George Gillett” by making
firm pledges on supporter ownership of the club.
Taylor says he wants a firm commitment from NESV – headed by the Boston
Red Sox co-owner, John W Henry – that NESV would be prepared to discuss
let fans buy a “significant stake” in the club, perhaps as much as 25
per cent, as and when fans can raise £50m or a similarly significant
“Any incoming new owner, especially any American new owner, will need to
differentiate themselves from the outgoing Americans,” Taylor told
sportingintelligence in an exclusive interview conducted today at the
Leaders in Football Conference in London.
“I would like that to mean agreeing to work in partnership with
equity-providing fans, and if they’re not interested in that then I’d
have to ask why aren’t they interested?
“The new owners of Liverpool must discuss the issue of partnership with
the fans and we are actively seeking talks. Merely putting a fan on the
board is not worth a toss – but by having a significant stake in the
club is the only way fans can protect themselves for the future.
“We also want a legal agreement that when the new owners sell up; and
they will leave one day – they are bound to have an exit strategy worked
out already – that the 10 per cent, 20 per cent or 25 per cent stake
that fans had would be safe and that they wouldn’t be forced to sell.
“We want a pre-exemption agreement and we also want first dibs to buy
the remaining equity of the club when it comes on the market. Owners may
come and go, but the 150m Liverpool fans around the world are not going
Taylor also warned new owners that they would have “a lot of work to do”
to persuade Liverpool fans, now educated about financial issues such as
leveraging and debt, that they were good custodians of the club.
“In England, most teams are named after a place, unlike in the US where
teams are named after fictitious animals or corporate brands and are
even moved around the country,” he said.
“This club is the epitome of the city and the new owners need to spend
time understanding what that means. To be fair, baseball is the nearest
US sport to football, with real passion from the fans, history and
heritage, so they may understand that issue already.”
Taylor told sportingintelligence that he believed the new owners were
attracted to the club because “Liverpool is going for a cheap price and
is one of only nine truly global football clubs.”
He added: “Due to the soft legislation in this country, the two English
global clubs in the nine, namely Liverpool and Manchester United, are
the most ripe for leveraged buy-outs. In Spain or Italy for example,
with global clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and the two in Milan,
these takeovers would not be possible.”
Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks appeared to be bracing
himself for a legal fight today after declaring the £300m sale of the
A statement suggested the Texan was in no mood to back down, disputing
assertions from Anfield chairman Martin Broughton it was in the club’s
power to agree the New England Sports Ventures deal.
Hicks disagreed with the Liverpool’s board insistence only Broughton had
legal authority to change the make-up of the board, and that the
Americans could not frustrate any potential sale.
The former baseball club owner said: “There were no such undertakings
given to Broughton, the board has been legally reconstituted and the new
board does not approve of this proposed transaction.”
In a dramatic Tuesday meeting Hicks tried to remove Christian Purslow
and Ian Ayre from the board and replace them with his son Mack and Hicks
Holding colleague Lori Kay McCutcheon.
The American’s stance also seemed to be echoed in an email exchange with
a media outlet in which he reaffirmed his view that Purslow and Ayre
were no longer on the board, and his intention to block the sale to the
Boston sports investment company in the High Court.
Hicks’ latest proclamations are likely to bemuse Broughton and his two
English cohorts who are confident they have acted according to law
throughout the process.
The ECHO understands the Reds bosses took up to ten days in April – the
date of the last refinancing when Hicks and Gillett obtained a further
six months extension from the Royal Bank of Scotland – reconfiguring new
written undertakings that gave Broughton greater powers in the
That step is thought to have involved five different law firms and was
clearly documented, a point which makes the English members of the Reds
board believe they are on a firm legal footing.
It is unclear if Hicks and Gillett will themselves appear in the London
But assumed opinion is that the Texan could well feel he must show his
face before a judge if he is to mount a credible legal challenge
opposing the sale to multi-millionaire John Henry and his 17-strong
James Dow, of Liverpool firm Dow Schofield Watts, has described the
ongoing sale of the club as ‘quite unique.’
He said: “Normally the bank would force the administration of the
So Liverpool have been sold to the owners of the
Boston Red Sox. Is it a done deal?
Not yet. The deal has been agreed in principle and in detail between
Liverpool's chairman Martin Broughton and by the New England Sports
Ventures (NESV) firm headed by John W Henry, but it is subject to a
legal challenge by Liverpool's incumbent American owners, Tom Hicks and
NESV have tabled a bid worth £300m that will, essentially, wipe out most
of Liverpool's debt -- with cash, not borrowed money -- and have
promised they will develop a big new stadium, either at Anfield or
elsewhere, location to be decided later.
NESV have a good track record at the Red Sox, having transformed the
franchise into a successful, profitable, valuable asset.
But they can't get their hands on Liverpool until Hicks and Gillett's
legal challenge is dealt with.
What are Hicks and Gillett arguing about?
They say Broughton had no right to agree a sale which will oust them
with combined losses of £140m from their time in charge.
They argue that they sacked two of Broughton's fellow board members,
Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre, before that pair and Broughton could
vote 3-2 against them to sell the club.
They will challenge in the British High Court Broughton's right to have
sold the club on that 3-2 vote. The case should be heard and finished
before the end of next week.
Who will win?
Broughton says his lawyers insist that legally only he had the power to
sack board members -- thus Hicks and Gillett cannot have legally sacked
Purslow and Ayre, meaning the 3-2 vote of sale to NESV was valid.
Hicks and Gillett will argue that Liverpool was their club and it cannot
be sold beneath them. But Hicks and Gillett's case is likely to be
undermined because according to Broughton, they effectively signed away
control when he was appointed earlier this year.
That appointment was made specifically so Broughton could find a buyer
for the club and to appease RBS, to whom Hicks and Gillett owe £237m.
What if Broughton/Liverpool win the case?
Then NESV will take control of Liverpool sharpish, within a couple of
weeks at most, and begin the process of trying to turn around the
fortunes of the slumbering 18-times champions of England.
And what if the Broughton camp loses?
If the judgment goes in the Americans' favour, the decision to sell to
NESV will be nullified and two Hicks allies (including son Mack) will
replace Purslow and Ayre on the board.
Then, with a 15 October deadline to repay RBS looming, Hicks and Gillett
will continue to make a last desperate attempt to find anyone in the
world who will lend them about £300m to pay off RBS. They will almost
certainly fail in that search.
If they do fail, what happens next? RBS will call in their loans, Hicks and Gillett will be unable to
pay, and the club ownership will transfer briefly to RBS, and Liverpool
could enter technical administration, and RBS will seek a buyer (knowing
there is one in place in the form of NESV).
Will Liverpool be docked nine points by the Premier League for
No, because they'll only be in administration for technical reasons and
in all likelihood, NESV will buy the club within a day or two from RBS.
The Premier League has already said there would be no nine-point penalty
in those circumstances.
A host of Premier League chairmen have insisted
Liverpool's prospective new owners should be welcomed with open arms.
New England Sports Ventures, owners of the Boston Red Sox, have had a
£300million offer accepted by the Liverpool board - though against the
wishes of current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett who have launched
legal action to try to stop it.
There have been some reservations expressed by Liverpool fans about
replacing one set of American owners with another, but Buck said NESV
should be given a chance to prove themselves.
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said: ''It depends on what the objective of
a foreign owner is - if they are in a position to recognise the history
and traditions of what they are buying then I'd say let's welcome them
with open arms.
''I think you need to build up a relationship with the fan groups. I
don't think they .125Hicks and Gillett.375 listened to the fans. It
wasn't just the leverage of debt.''
Wolves chairman Steve Morgan, who made an unsuccessful bid for Liverpool
five years ago, said he would welcome the takeover going through.
''I give a warm welcome to anything that resolves the issue, hopefully
good for the club and fans,'' said Morgan at the Leaders in Football
conference in London.
''I'm not a fan of leveraged debt in football, if it doesn't happen on
the pitch, interest bills of £40-50million are a hell of a hurdle before
you've kicked the ball.
''They all understand the passion that exists for football and see it as
an investment and opportunity to both invest and exit and multiply their
''Yet most American sports owners think they are going to go and do a
better job and be a big success and win many championships and sometimes
that doesn't quite work out. See example A, Liverpool.
''I think, like anyone who's got a bit of Liverpool in their heart, I
have been very saddened to see what's happened to the club over the past
six months in particular, so I give a warm welcome to anything that
improves the issue.''
West Ham owner David Gold said that debt alone was not an issue - unless
like Portsmouth you used it ''to cheat''.
Gold said: ''One of their [Hicks and Gillett] failures is they haven't
delivered their promises. I think that's when the fans turned on them.
Once that process started there was no stopping it.
''If you are using debt to cheat that's different. You can argue that
Portsmouth built debt to cheat. They were buying players and spending
extreme amounts of money and building debt.
''Portsmouth outbid people to buy those players. Is that not cheating? I
see it as a form of cheating.''
Tom Hicks and George Gillett's legal bid to thwart the
takeover of Liverpool is likely to end in failure according to an
Hicks and Gillett argue Liverpool's directors have dramatically
undervalued the club by agreeing a £300m sale to New England Sports
But Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton says that he has the final say
when it comes to the sale of the club.
"The directors have the momentum," Guy Thomas of SA Law told BBC Sport.
Hicks and Gillett tried to sack managing director Christian Purslow and
commercial director Ian Ayre in a last-ditch bid to keep control of the
club on Tuesday night, looking to replace them with with Hicks's son,
Mack Hicks, and Lori Kay McCutcheon, a vice president at Hicks Holdings.
And Purslow, Ayre and Broughton are now consulting lawyers over whether
they can resist Hicks and Gillett's attempts to replace them and force
through a sale to the owners of the Boston Red Sox.
Broughton claimed the American owners were going back on pledges made
when major creditor Royal Bank of Scotland extended their finance
arrangement until next week, with changes implemented to remove Hicks
and Gillett's power to veto 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," Broughton said.
"I think they flagrantly abused both of those written undertakings. I
have the casting vote."
It is because of this that Thomas, Head of Insolvency at SA Law LLP,
believes that the power is resting with Liverpool's directors.
"It depends on the strength of that drafting but I'm imagining it was
very, very carefully worded," stated Thomas.
"If the wording isn't strong enough then the default position is that
you've got to go and get permission from the shareholders that says, yes
you can sell this business.
"Now if Broughton found a way when he was appointed to overcome that and
the drafting of his agreement with them gives them that power then the
owners have a real problem in being able to block the sale because they
have already in effect, if the chairman has things lined up properly,
given him permission in place before he was appointed."
Thomas added: "Broughton says he had got Hicks and Gillett to agree to
changes in the Kop's constitution before he took the role.
"Broughton wanted [and says he got] the ability to deliver a sale if it
was a reasonable deal.
"The first part of this was the ability of the board to sell the club
and the second was his ability as chairman of the board to control the
board's membership. Broughton says this was backed up with the owners'
undertakings not to frustrate a reasonable transaction."
Liverpool's three directors could though be forced to take Hicks and
Gillett to court to force the sale through, something Broughton is
confident will result in victory.
Thomas explains: "In essence, any application to the Court would be to
authorise the sale of the club.
"Put another way the board is saying that not only did they try to
authorise a "reasonable deal" - i.e. what they were authorised by the
owners to do, but that now, those same owners are now trying to kill
The looming threat of administration, however unpalatable for most fans,
also strengthens the directors' hand in Thomas' opinion
It is likely that if Liverpool is not sold before the 15 October
deadline that RBS has set to pay back the £240m of loans and £40m of
fees owed to them, the Reds could be placed in administration and Hicks
and Gillett would lose control of the club.
"In simple terms, unless the owners and the directors come to an
agreement or it is resolved that quickly over the next few days then the
bank will make the decision for them," added Thomas.
"The sale has got to go ahead because without more funding the
consequence of it not happening is administration."
Ultimately, Thomas believes that time is running out for Liverpool's
"The board had a number of bids in front of them, they appear to have
considered them carefully and chosen a preferred bid," he said.
"Broughton says he effectively obtained "pre approval" of a "reasonable
transaction" before he took the job. He also says he obtained the power
to hire and fire the board.
"This is what appears to have saved him and the commercial director last
night. These "undertakings" as Broughton refers to them are also the
basis for any application to the Court to enforce if Hicks and Gillett
don't back down.
"There is another option: before the 15th, citing the impasse with
shareholders and the cost of such an application to the court, the board
could also consider inviting RBS to appoint an administrator or seek to
appoint one themselves."
The following is a statement from New England Sports
"New England Sports Ventures
("NESV") can confirm that their bid for Liverpool FC has been selected
by the Club's Board of Directors and agreement has been reached with the
Board to purchase the Club. NESV wishes to extend its appreciation to
the Board for their diligence and their efforts on behalf of Liverpool
FC and its supporters.
NESV wants to create a long-term financially solid foundation for
Liverpool FC and is dedicated to ensuring that the Club has the
resources to build for the future, including the removal of all
acquisition debt. Our objective is to stabilize the Club and ultimately
return Liverpool FC to its rightful place in English and European
football, successfully competing for and winning trophies.
Since 2001, New England Sports Ventures has made successful investments
in sports and entertainment properties. Our portfolio of companies,
including the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park, New England Sports
Network, Fenway Sports Group and Roush Fenway Racing are all committed
to one common goal: winning. NESV wants to help bring back the culture
of winning to Liverpool FC.
We have a proven track record, shown clearly with the Boston Red Sox.
The team has won two World Series Championships over the past six years.
We will bring the same kind of openness, passion, dedication and
professionalism to Liverpool FC.
We are hopeful with regard to the pending legal and English Premier
League procedures now underway, however, in light of these issues, we
will respectfully refrain from comment or further actions at this time."
By Mike Hughes - BBC Radio Merseyside Sport Reporter
Football takeover talk is common place in the modern
game and since the inception and incredible growth of the Premier
League, it's become synonymous with the do or die quest for footballing
But what is happening at Liverpool today is something totally out of the
ordinary and in fact unprecedented in English football.
By agreeing in principle to the sale of Liverpool Football Club to the
owners of the Boston Red Sox, the majority of the board of directors at
Anfield are totally at odds with the two American owners of the club.
Tom Hicks and George Gillett are adamant that they have added commercial
value to the club and invested heavily in the playing staff, citing new
signings and new big money contracts for the club's top players.
The reality of the situation appears to be rather different. Giving
lucrative new deals to the club's best players is only what a club of
Liverpool's stature is expected to do.
The added commercial value they speak of is thanks in the main to the
hard work of Commercial Director, Ian Ayre - a man appointed by Hicks
and Gillett, but who they tried to remove from the board along with
Managing Director, Christian Purslow because they recommended the
acceptance of the offer from the owners of the Boston Red Sox.
The two American owners vehemently oppose the sale of the club to New
England Sports Ventures (owners of the Boston Red Sox) for a figure in
the region of £300 million. Hicks and Gillette claim the true value of
the club is worth double that and are taking legal action to protect
Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton insists that Hicks and Gillett gave
a written undertaking that only he could make changes to the board of
directors at Anfield.
On Wednesday lunchtime he said the two Americans have missed "The last
chance to leave Anfield with their heads held high," and says that,
"It's a pity they've chosen to go down this road."
The deadline for the expiry of a £237 million loan to RBS is just nine
days away. The Royal Bank of Scotland want their money back and have no
interest in taking over the ownership of the club. Tom Hicks has been
unable to secure the necessary equity injection from various venture
capital groups so he and George Gillett won't be able to pay their debt
by then, and Martin Broughton is unlikely to have recommended the
acceptance of the offer from NESV, without prior high level discussions
with the deal makers at RBS.
The two American owners have brought one of football's great
institutions almost to its knees. High Leveraged Buy Outs, the vehicle
used by Hicks and Gillett to buy the club and by the Glazers at
Manchester United, is a method of purchase that does no good whatsoever
for football clubs.
Liverpool have now been saddled with such enormous debts, that simply
servicing the interest on the debt, not repaying it, cost over £40
million in the last financial year and the figure for this year will be
Some sources suggest that the legal arguments could well be protracted.
The non owning board members have themselves sought legal advice as to
their ability to override the interests of the shareholders, as their
actions are in conflict with the best interests of a now highly indebted
club. But Anfield officials believe that the matter won't drag on for
very much longer.
They believe that despite the ability of the Hicks and Gillett to appeal
against the board decision to sell the club to NESV and even seek leave
to take the case to the High Courts, that a final decision in
Liverpool's favour will be forthcoming in the non too distant future.
It mightn't be the end for Tom Hicks and George Gillett, but it looks
like the beginning of the end for the two Americans, who've managed to
wreak financial havoc and destabilise a great footballing name. Their
eventual departure will be greeted with a combination of unconfined joy
and reflective relief.
John W Henry is the man who heads NESV, his bid has already be
scrutinised and approved by the majority of the Liverpool board. He's
certainly been successful with the Boston Red Sox, though that doesn't
offer any guarantees of similar success with a different game in a
Liverpool fans are right to be worried about another American buying the
club, but Martin Broughton is adamant that the sale won't leave the club
over burdened by debt.
The sale still needs Premier League approval and John W Henry and his
previous business practices will hopefully be subject to more scrutiny
than Tom Hicks and George Gillett were.
The Liverpool co-owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett,
stand to lose their £144m loans in Liverpool if the proposed sale of the
club to John W Henry's New England Sports Ventures group goes through
The deal with Henry is valued at £300m which incorporates £200m to repay
debt owed to the Royal Bank of Scotland, £40m to cover non-banking
liabilities and £60m in debts relating to the planned development of the
proposed new Anfield stadium in Stanley Park.
This leaves no room for the repayment of the loans which Hicks and
Gillett made to Liverpool, which stood at £144m on 31 July 2009, the
date of the club's last published accounts. With Hicks and Gillett
having been keen also to turn a profit from any sale of their shares in
Liverpool, the reality that they are now set to make a huge loss, makes
it clear why the Americans are so resistant to the deal with Henry.
The Premier League released a statement this afternoon confirming
Liverpool's intention to change owners. "We can confirm that Liverpool
FC has formally notified the Premier League of an intended change of
control and that the board has undertaken to complete all the necessary
processes by Friday 8 October so that the sale of the club can proceed,"
said a spokesperson.
Legal action is expected to proceed next week to decide on whether the
Liverpool board acted validly in completing the sale of the club.
Former Liverpool captain Phil Thompson has spoken of
his delight that the club is on the verge of sale, but issues caution
with the new owners.
It was announced today that a deal has been agreed to sell the club to
New England Sports Ventures, headed by Boston Red Sox chairman John
Henry. The deal should go through, subject to scrutiny by the Premier
League and winning a legal battle against the current owners.
Thompson sounded very upbeat in an interview with Sky Sports News saying
the sale, and exit of Tom Hicks and George Gillett from the club, will
give Anfield it’s “feelgood factor” back.
He said, “The new owners have to be given a chance, yes they are
purchasing the club for a lot less than other owners and yes there’s a
lot of work to do, but let’s hope there’s some good news in the next two
“The talk was it would take a billion to take on the club. John Henry is
only worth £550million – that’s just him – but hopefully the consortium
is worth more than that because that’s what it’s going to take to get us
up the football ladder.
“The club has earned a lot of money. Wages have gone up but money has
gone on paying off the debts of Americans who said they wouldn’t put any
debt on – that’s what’s hurt everybody.”
Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton (pictured) says he is hopeful
the deal to sell the club to New England Sports Ventures will go through
in the next week.
Broughton faces a legal challenge from current owners Tom Hicks and
George Gillett who are looking to block the sale in hope they can hold
out for more money with nine days left to pay the £285million owed to
the Royal Bank of Scotland.
It also emerged this lunchtime that a rival bid from an Asian-based
consortium was turned down in favour of the bid from the American firm,
who own the Boston Red Sox.
“We’ve agreed a sale subject to a number of things including Premier
League approval. A judgement from the court must be made to clear it. I
would hope this would be resolved by the end of next week.
“It’s a pity they’ve [Hicks & Gillett] have done this. It was their last
chance of walking out with their heads high, and it’s a pity they’ve
chosen to go this route.
“Part of the terms of me taking on this role was that they took a
written undertaking that only I could change the board, and this is
written down. They also gave this undertaking to RBS. This is abuse of
“The agreed fee from the new owners is £300million. £200million to pay
off acquisition debt, and some to pay off working capital debt, plus
other amenities. Other bank charges are a matter between the RBS and the
“On a short timetable, we will have a new stadium development of over
60,000 capacity. The new owners will listen to the people, just as they
have done with the Boston Red Sox.
“I’m sorry I haven’t given a running commentary on these proceedings,
but I said I wouldn’t. These are the best owners. Keep the faith.”
Liverpool fans will be praying that prospective new
owner John W Henry can replicate the impact he had at Boston Red Sox -
by quickly winning the Premier League title to end a drought which seems
certain to stretch up to at least 22 years.
The Red Sox had gone 84 years without winning the World Series when
Henry and his partners - former CEO of the San Diego Padres Larry
Lucchino and TV producer Tom Werner - bought the team in 2002 for a
record $690 million. Henry was the principal owner, Werner the chairman
and Lucchino again the CEO. New England Sports Ventures was established
as the holding company, which owns 80% of the Red Sox, and it is now
10th in Forbes' list of the most valuable sports brands.
Within two years that drought was over as they won the World Series for
first time since 1918, success which was repeated in 2007.
"Win a World Series? That's not my choice, it's my role, it's my
obligation to New England," Henry said when taking charge. "That's what
I've been charged with. When you bid on the Red Sox, the challenge
you're undertaking is nothing short of winning the World Series."
Henry made his fortune in hedge funds and the global futures market, and
is chairman of John W. Henry & Company, Inc., with a reported wealth of
$860 million (£540 million) in 2006 - before the credit crunch hit. His
companies have hit problems in the economic downturn with huge loses
reported by Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.
Henry - now one of the most powerful men in baseball who serves on MLB's
Executive Council, various MLB committees and is on the board of MLB.com
- and his team were originally seen as carpetbaggers, opportunistic
buyers who would look to exploit the name of the Red Sox. But those
fears proved to be false as both Henry and Lucchino moved to New England
to lead from the front.
The Red Sox's greatest rivals are the New York Yankees, who are
coincidentally tied in with Manchester United, and were once described
by Lucchino as the "Evil Empire". Liverpool fans would be delighted if
one of the club's new administrators referred to United in such terms.
That the Red Sox toppled the Yankees' dominance provides another element
of symmetry which Liverpool fans would love to see.
Henry, 61, was also careful to observe the traditions of the Red Sox,
opting not to move to a brand new stadium and keeping the team at Fenway
Park, one of baseball's oldest ballparks. The ground was completely
renovated to bring it up to modern standards, fitting in more seats but
also charging the highest prices for home tickets in the sport. The Red
Sox enjoyed record attendances and television ratings, though their
games were broadcast on their own New England Sports Network - a model
which could not be replicated in the Premier League with its collective
rights sold to Sky Sports and ESPN.
The Red Sox became the second most lucrative franchise in MLB and also
had the second biggest wage bill behind the Yankees.
Henry set up the Red Sox Foundation, the official team charity, which
has donated over £30 million to non-profit programs aimed at health,
education, recreation and social service for children and their families
in the local area. The Sox owners, staff, players and fans all support
"He has been very popular in Boston," Peter Abraham, the Boston Globe's
Red Sox reporter, told the Liverpool Daily Post. "The Sox have the
second oldest stadium in baseball and he has fixed it up better than
people thought he would. He spent more than people thought he would, I
would imagine probably $50 million, if not more.
"Henry is a very statistics-minded man from his business. The people he
has hired have all been young, very smart guys."
Sabermetrics, the analysis of baseball through in-game stats, was one of
his key tactics for success. The Red Sox picked up under-valued players
and turned them into stars and also stopped handing out long contracts
to veteran players, something which is already common in football.
Theo Epstein was hired as general manager and was responsible for the
trades and signings which made them champions.
Liverpool's new ground is expected to cost far more than the $50 million
spent by Henry on Fenway Park, more like £400 million, and they are not
in a position to pay the same respect to Anfield as they look to keep up
with the revenue streams enjoyed by Arsenal and Manchester United. But
in moving to a new ground as mooted, in Stanley Park, it is expected
Henry will take the club's history and the iconic nature of Anfield into
"I certainly identify with the fans," Henry said when buying the Red
Sox, "because I've been one my entire life." He may not have the same
ties to Liverpool, but he should understand supporters better than Hicks
or Gillett ever could. Henry regularly seeks the views of the fans on
how to move the franchise forward.
However, he abandoned his first baseball team, the Florida Marlins,
after he could not secure sufficient backing to move the team to a new
ballpark. Considering Liverpool's troubles over their move to a new
ground he will have to hope the same problem does not arise.
Henry - who once had a small stake in the Yankees in 1991 - also owns a
50% stake in the Roush Fenway Racing team, bought in 2007, with the
NASCAR team winning their first Daytona 500 in 2009 with Matt Kenseth.
He married Linda Pizzuti in June 2009 and they are currently expecting
their first child.
While Liverpool fans could be forgiven for being apprehensive at being
bought out by another American after such a disastrous three years, the
initial signs are positive. Any deal which removes the albatross of
leveraged debt is a good start.
With their ill-fated tenure at Anfield set to end -
and not without a fight - Goal.com UK charts the disastrous reign of
'Uncle George and Tom'...
January 2007 - Dubai International Capital (DIC) pull out of a takeover
bid after they try in vain to force Liverpool to come to a decision
while the club's board consider a new offer made by American tycoons
George Gillett and Tom Hicks.
February 2, 2007 - Gillett and Hicks offer £435 million for the
ownership of Liverpool. This includes £215m for the building of a
proposed new stadium on Stanley Park. The club's board, led by chairman
David Moores and chief executive Rick Parry, unanimously recommend that
this offer be accepted.
February 6, 2007 - The offer from Hicks and Gillett is accepted, valuing
the club at £218.9m (£5,000 per share), and confirming debts of £44.8m.
In their original press conference, Gillett promises work on Liverpool's
new stadium would begin immediately, saying: "The spade has to be in the
ground within 60 days."
May 2007 - Liverpool are beaten by AC Milan in the Champions League
final, with Hicks promising afterwards that serious funds will be made
available to manager Rafael Benitez with which he can strengthen the
squad. It results in the infamous soundbyte: "If Rafa said he wanted to
buy Snoogy Doogy we would back him."
Summer 2007 - Liverpool embark on a major spending spree, adding Spanish
star Fernando Torres, as well as Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun.
Supporters welcome Torres, a club record signing at around £20m, in
November 2007 - Benitez and the owners fall out over the Spaniard's
transfer targets for January 2008. Gillett and Hicks reportedly tell
Benitez to 'concentrate on training and coaching the players he already
has'. Benitez responds with a frosty press conference in which he
repeats that phrase in answer to every question. Liverpool's form,
impressive in the early weeks of the season, begins to deteriorate.
January 14, 2008 - Hicks admits the club had made an approach to former
Germany manager Juergen Klinsmann, with a view to Klinsmann replacing
Benitez as manager. The meeting took place at the height of the feud
between Benitez and the owners in November. Hicks says, however, that
such a move was "an insurance policy, to have him become manager if Rafa
left for Real Madrid".
January 22, 2008 - Liverpool supporters, who have formed the supporters'
union Spirit of Shankly, protest against the Americans' ownership
before, during and after the 2-2 draw with Aston Villa. Banners pledge
their support for Benitez, as well as urging Gillett and Hicks to sell
to DIC, who are rumoured to be interested.
April 2008 - It emerges that Gillett and Hicks are barely on speaking
terms, throwing the club into turmoil. Rick Parry, it transpires, was
present when Gillett and Hicks met with Klinsmann the previous November,
further souring his relationship with Benitez. Days later, Hicks rounds
on Parry, accusing the chief executive of failing in his commercial and
professional duties, and advising the termination of his contract. Parry
would leave his role at the end of the following season.
January 2009 - Benitez is left frustrated by the club's transfer policy,
as funds are denied following the sale of striker Robbie Keane, and the
club fail to act swiftly over the contract of Daniel Agger. Benitez
himself refuses to commit to a long-term deal until assurances are made
regarding the control of the club.
March 2009 - Rumours surface ahead of the Reds' Champions League clash
with Real Madrid that Benitez has quit. They prove to be unfounded, and
days later it is announced that Parry will be leaving the club at the
end of the season. Liverpool finish the campaign second, just four
points short of Manchester United.
Summer 2009 - Christian Purslow, financial expert and Liverpool
supporter, is appointed as managing director. His brief is to find £100m
of fresh investment, which will help satisfy Liverpool's creditors. The
playing side suffers, with Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa sold, and
Alberto Aquilani and Glen Johnson added, but further funds are denied.
September 2009 - Gillett criticises Benitez in a meeting with
supporters' union Spirit of Shankly. The American claims that
Liverpool's financial situation is healthier than that of Manchester
United, and also denies promising fans that work on a new stadium would
begin 'within 60 days' of his arrival at Anfield.
January 2010 - Liverpool fans are left incensed after Tom Hicks Jnr, a
board member at Anfield, responds to an e-mail from a supporter with a
foul-mouthed tirade. Hicks Jnr is forced to resign, with commercial
director Ian Ayre and financial director Philip Nash added to the board.
March 2010 - Reports surface suggesting a bid of £110m has been made
from the Rhone Group - a New York-based private equity firm - for a 40
per cent stake in Liverpool. Gillett and Hicks fail to respond to the
offer within the deadline.
April 2010 - Gillett and Hicks announce the appointment of British
Airways chairman Martin Broughton, who will oversee the formal sale of
the club as soon as possible. The Americans' statement reads: "Owning
Liverpool Football Club over these past three years has been a rewarding
and exciting experience for us and our families. Having grown the Club
this far we have now decided together to look to sell the Club to owners
committed to take the Club through its next level of growth and
May 2010 - Sunday Telegraph reports that Dubai International Capital
were close to a £500m takeover prove wide of the mark. The group that
initially missed out on buying the club to Hicks and Gillett and were
believed to be ready to commit funds for player transfers and for a new
August 2010 - Chinese investor Kenny Huang announces his interest in
acquiring the club. After initial claims of backing from his nation's
government and ability to buy any player Roy Hodgson wanted, the
46-year-old officially announces his withdrawal from the race on August
The Huang situation was matched by the approach from businessman Yahya
Kirdi. The Syrian - who headed a consortium of Middle East investors -
initially claimed to be in advanced negotiations on August 4, before he
announced he expected to conclude a preliminary deal before the season's
opening fixture against Arsenal on the 15th.
Again, no offer was agreed.
September 2010 - In a bid to retain control, co-owner Tom Hicks attempts
to refinance the £237m debt to the Royal Bank of Scotland. If unable to
find fresh credit, the Texan could be forced to relinquish his
investment on October 15.
Reports emerge on September 19 that a £280m package had been agreed with
private equity firm Blackstone. A large-scale campaign from Liverpool
supporters follows and the company announces the following day that they
had no intention of concluding a deal to leave Hicks stranded.
October 2010 - With the date looming to repay RBS or face a £60m penalty
charge, rumours emerge that a proposed deal with the New England Sports
Venture (NESV) - headed by multi-millionaire Boston Red Sox owner John
W. Henry - has been agreed on the 5th.
A boardroom struggle ensues, with an official statement from the club
detailing Hicks and Gillett's attempts to remove chairman Martin
Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director
Ian Ayre from the board and install Mack Hicks and Lori Kay McCutcheon.
The following day, a statement is released by chairman Martin Broughton
to confirm that a proposed sale to NESV had been agreed subject to legal
challenge from the American duo.
The Premier League will not dock points from Liverpool
if the club’s American owners’ company Kop Holdings goes into
administration next week, it can be revealed.
There have been suggestions that if Tom Hicks and George Gillett block a
£300m (€344m) takeover for the club by New England Sports Ventures,
owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, then their holding company
would be put into administration by the Royal Bank of Scotland over
their unpaid £280m (€321m) debts.
That would not lead to an automatic points deduction for the Reds
however – the Premier League have clarified the rules regarding parent
companies so that if the club itself is a fully solvent entity – as
Liverpool is – then the penalty clause should not apply.
A Premier League source said: “The aim of the regulations is primarily
to capture clubs who have gone into insolvency. This is manifestly not
the case with Liverpool Football Club.”
For example, last year West Ham’s Icelandic owners went into
administration but that did not lead to any Premier League action as the
club itself was solvent.
All prospective owners are obliged to give the league 10 days’ notice of
a takeover and prove they have the funds to sustain the club.
Any prospective owners have to have a face-to-face meeting with league
chiefs to convince them they have enough money for the season to come.
Supporters of Liverpool may be wary of another
American owner, but in John W Henry they have a very different breed to
Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
The quiet, reserved 61-year-old made his fortune in hedge funds, but has
used it to indulge his sporting interests, most famously with the Boston
Red Sox baseball team, but also in the NASCAR motorsport series.
The self-made multi-millionaire does not have the serious money of the
Premier League's wealthiest owners, with his fortune rated at $860m
(£540m) before dipping in the credit crunch, but he does have an
excellent track record of success with his teams.
After owning a number of minor league teams, and briefly controlling the
Florida Marlins, Henry and his partners in New England Sports Ventures,
Tom Werner and the New York Times Company, bought the Red Sox in 2002.
In doing so, they acquired one of the game's most famous names but a
team who could not translate their wealth and prominence into
championships thanks to one of baseball's most endearing tales - 'the
curse of the Bambino'.
The Red Sox won the World Series in 1918, but immediately afterwards
sold emerging star Babe Ruth to their arch rivals, the New York Yankees.
While Ruth smashed baseball's records to establish the Yankees as the
pre-eminent franchise in the game, the Red Sox suffered calamity after
calamity as they bid to end their curse and win another title.
As entire generations of Red Sox fans passed without ever seeing their
team win, many wondered if the curse was here to stay. But within two
years of Henry's acquisition the drought came to an end as they won
their first World Series title in 86 years. Three years later, they won
the title again.
Henry has achieved this success while staying true to the rich
traditions of the Red Sox.
Any temptation to move out of historic but restrictive Fenway Park,
baseball's oldest ballpark, has been resisted, with the club instead
finding inventive ways to maximise revenues in order to remain
competitive with the Yankees.
The fortunes of the Roush Fenway Racing team have likewise risen since
Henry bought into the NASCAR team in 2007, with the team winning their
first Daytona 500 in 2009 with Matt Kenseth.
But it is the Red Sox model that Liverpool fans will be most keen to
If Henry can show the same respect for history in handling the stadium
issue, and more importantly find a way to end the club's long title
drought, Americans will suddenly become very welcome at Anfield once
Tom Hicks and George Gillett issued a statement in
response to any sale late last night, outlining their opposition to the
bids received so far.
It added the bids received dramatically undervalue the club, in their
Here is the statement in full:
“In April, we confirmed our agreement to sell Liverpool Football Club,
and appointed a new chairman and advisers to oversee the process.
“At that time we and Martin Broughton stated our commitment to finding
the right buyer for LFC, one that could support and sustain the club in
the future. We remain committed to that goal.
“The owners have invested more than 270 million US dollars in cash into
the club, and during their tenure revenues have nearly doubled,
investment in players has increased and the club is one of the most
profitable in the EPL.
“As such, the board has been presented with offers that we believe
dramatically undervalue the club.
“To be clear, there is no change in our commitment to finding a buyer
for Liverpool Football Club at a fair price that reflects the very
significant investment we’ve made.
“We will, however, resist any attempt to sell the club without due
process or agreement by the owners.”
Liverpool have confirmed that a takeover deal has been
agreed with the owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team.
New England Sports Ventures (NESV), the parent company of the Red Sox,
have seen a bid accepted by the Anfield board.
Current Liverpool owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks had vowed to
'resist any attempt to sell the club without due process or agreement',
and have not given their consent for a deal to be pushed through.
However, the Reds have been able to put an agreement in place - although
the sale is still conditional on Premier League approval, resolution of
the dispute concerning board membership and other matters.
It was reported on Tuesday that the owners of the MLB giants, led by
John W. Henry, were closing on a deal for the Premier League outfit.
It was claimed that a rival bid from an Asian consortium was also being
prepared, but no move has been made on that front.
NESV, who own a portfolio of companies including the Boston Red Sox, New
England Sports Network, Fenway Sports Group and Rousch Fenway Racing,
have now emerged as the only bidder.
Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton told the club's official website: "I
am delighted that we have been able to successfully conclude the sale
process which has been thorough and extensive.
"The board decided to accept NESV's proposal on the basis that it best
met the criteria we set out originally for a suitable new owner. NESV's
philosophy is all about winning and they have fully demonstrated that at
"We've met them in Boston, London and Liverpool over several weeks and I
am immensely impressed with what they have achieved and with their
vision for Liverpool Football Club.
"By removing the burden of acquisition debt, this offer allows us to
focus on investment in the team.
"I am only disappointed that the owners have tried everything to prevent
the deal from happening and that we need to go through legal proceedings
in order to complete the sale."
The boardroom battle between American owners Hicks and Gillett and their
England-based colleagues escalated to a new level on Tuesday.
With news of two new "excellent" bids having been received, the pair,
led primarily by Hicks, tried to effect a coup by removing managing
director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre from their
positions on the board minutes before a meeting to discuss the new
Process It was intended to allow the Americans to regain control of the sale
process, allowing them the final say on any offer.
Hicks and Gillett wanted to instal Mack Hicks, one of Tom's sons, and
Lori Kay McCutcheon, financial controller at Hicks Holdings.
This was rebuffed as the two club officials, backed by chairman
Broughton, out-voted the Americans three to two.
The club issued an unprecedented statement detailing yesterday's
machinations in which they also revealed this boardroom issue was now
the subject of a legal review.
However, the statement pointedly went on to stress that Broughton,
Purslow and Ayre would "continue to explore every possible route to
achieving a sale of the club at the earliest opportunity".
There has been a division on the board from the moment Hicks and Gillett
announced in April they wanted to end their three-year tenure at
Anfield, but that split has turned into a chasm.
Broughton was appointed as independent chairman as part of the sale
process, ensuring the Americans no longer had a majority vote and could
not prevent a sale that was in the best interests of the club.
Central to the whole saga has been next week's looming deadline for the
repayment or refinancing of £282million of loans - owed principally to
the Royal Bank of Scotland, who are reportedly backing the sale to NESV.
Liverpool Football Club today announces that the Board
has agreed the sale of the Club to New England Sports Ventures (NESV).
New England Sports Ventures currently owns a portfolio of companies
including the Boston Red Sox, New England Sports Network, Fenway Sports
Group and Roush Fenway Racing.
Martin Broughton, Liverpool FC Chairman, said:
"I am delighted that we have been able to successfully conclude the sale
process which has been thorough and extensive. The Board decided to
accept NESV's proposal on the basis that it best met the criteria we set
out originally for a suitable new owner. NESV's philosophy is all about
winning and they have fully demonstrated that at Red Sox.
"We've met them in Boston, London and Liverpool over several weeks and I
am immensely impressed with what they have achieved and with their
vision for Liverpool Football Club.
"By removing the burden of acquisition debt, this offer allows us to
focus on investment in the team. I am only disappointed that the owners
have tried everything to prevent the deal from happening and that we
need to go through legal proceedings in order to complete the sale."
The sale is conditional on Premier League approval, resolution of the
dispute concerning Board membership and other matters.
Liverpool Football Club tonight issued the following
The Board of Directors have received two excellent financial offers to
buy the Club that would repay all its long-term debt. A Board meeting
was called today to review these bids and approve a sale. Shortly prior
to the meeting, the owners - Tom Hicks and George Gillett - sought to
remove Managing Director Christian Purslow and Commercial Director Ian
Ayre from the Board, seeking to replace them with Mack Hicks and Lori
This matter is now subject to legal review and a further announcement
will be made in due course.
Meanwhile Martin Broughton, Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre continue to
explore every possible route to achieving a sale of the Club at the
Two new bids have been tabled for Liverpool, one of
which is from the owners of the Boston Red Sox, according to reports.
The Merseyside outfit were put up for sale by current owners Tom Hicks
and George Gillett in April, with the duo keen to end their association
if a buyer can be found at their £600million asking price.
That figure has so far prevented any meaningful progress in takeover
discussions, with Syrian businessman Yahya Kirdi the latest to withdraw
his interest earlier on Tuesday.
Hicks and Gillett need to find a buyer before October 15 to repay their
£282million loans to the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia.
If they are unsuccessful then RBS are poised to take control of
Liverpool, the asset against which the loans are secured, and sell the
club themselves to recoup their cash.
It is understood that Liverpool's board and chairman Martin Broughton
were in favour of recommending both of the new bids for consideration
after meeting on Tuesday, but that plan was met with disagreement from
Alongside the bid from the group behind successful MLB franchise the Red
Sox, another offer has been tabled from a Far East consortium.
The Red Sox are run by New England Sports Ventures, a group headed by
John William Henry II and Tom Werner.
Hicks and Gillett have become increasingly unpopular on Merseyside, with
supporters blaming the duo for Liverpool's current fall from grace.
The disappointment of last season's miserable seventh-placed finish has
intensified this term with Rafa Benitez's replacement Roy Hodgson unable
to stop the rot.
The Reds suffered an embarrassing Carling Cup exit at home to League Two
Northampton on penalties before going down 2-1 to newly-promoted
Blackpool at Anfield on Sunday.
How supporters of the five-time European champions would react to
further involvement from across the Atlantic after their current
American experience remains to be seen.
The pressure on Liverpool's owners to find a buyer
before an October 15 deadline has increased after one potential buyer
claimed there was no "logic" in their high asking price.
Canada-based Syrian investor Yahya Kirdi said the group he is
representing has shelved plans to buy the club.
Owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett need to find a buyer before October
15 to repay their £282million loans to the Royal Bank of Scotland and
If they are unsuccessful then RBS are poised to take control of
Liverpool, the asset against which the loans are secured, and sell the
club themselves to recoup their cash.
Hicks and Gillett initially sought an asking price of around £800million
for Liverpool, a figure that they subsequently dropped to £600million,
but that has been too much for Kirdi.
Kirdi told Bloomberg: "Right now is not the time for me and my group to
enter into any negotiations.
"Once everyone is united and there's logic in the price and the overall
deal, me and my group will be prepared to return to the table."
There had been some doubts over whether Kirdi was a serious contender to
buy Liverpool because he refused to name his backers and is a friend of
Gillett's son Foster.
But he added: "I'm a serious man. I'm not playing but my group said they
didn't want to go public because we haven't done the deal."
Liverpool are in desperate need of stability off the pitch after a
terrible start to the season on it - they are currently in the bottom
three of the Premier League after their worst league start for more than
half a century.
Liverpool fans have stepped up their campaign to oust
the club’s current owners by starring in a viral alongside actors Ricky
Tomlinson and Joe McGann.
The YouTube clip is to launch on Tuesday and will feature supporters
venting their anger over the £237m debt that the club’s current owners,
Tom Hicks and George Gillett have saddled the club with.
Earlier reports had suggested that the film would feature Hollywood
stars and Liverpool fans including Mike Myers, Samuel L Jackson and
Daniel Craig but it is not thought that they were at the filming.
Screenwriter Mike Jefferies, who penned the Goal! films, asked fans to
attend the filming in Liverpool on Saturday (2 October).
He wants to highlight the depth of opposition to the current owners and
persuade potential backers not to back Hicks and Gillett at the club.
The two have a deadline later this month to repay the £237m they owe
Royal Bank of Scotland or refinance the deal.
Fans pressure group Spirit of Shankly is calling on RBS not to prolong
the duo’s tenure at the club or face protests.
A spokesman told the Liverpool Echo: “We will be continuing to protest
up until the last day. We want to step up the campaign. We will protest
at LFC matches, but also at the banks and everyone involved in any