Liverpool FC owners take battle for control to the High Court
Thu 7th Oct 2010 | Clubs Ownership
The battle to take control of Liverpool Football Club looks set to be decided in the courts. Hicks and Gillett the club's current owners are challenging the sale of the club which will see them ousted as owners and receive nothing in return for their investment.
Chairman, Michael Broughton, who was brought in by RBS to oversee the sale of the club has insisted he has the legal right to sell the club despite the opposition of the current owners.
Yesterday it was announced that an agreement had been reached to sell the club to New England Sports Ventures (NESV), owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team.
The sale, agreed by Liverpool’s board of directors has been challenged by Hicks & Gillett who will lose all the £144m they pumped into the club in loans as well as the total value of their shares.
In an attempt to overrule the decision the American’s tried to replace managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre with Hick’s son Tom and his assistant Lori Kay McCutcheon.
Broughton speaking to the Guardian of the attempts to oust the board and block the sale: "George and Tom had recognised the only way of moving forward was selling the entire club, and that if they alone said that is what they were going to do it would not have any credibility because they no longer had any credibility.
"They agreed to appoint an independent chairman to add credibility to the process. I was not prepared to be their patsy, adding credibility to a process that did not have it. They gave those written undertakings and on Tuesday they flagrantly abused those undertakings."
The deadline for repaying the loans to RBS, £237m in total, was initially the 6 October but was extended to next Friday, 15 October. The bank has provided assurances there will be no further refinancing for Hicks and Gillett, who appear liable to lose more than their £144m if RBS places Liverpool in administration, because the bank could pursue them personally for the £237m. Broughton therefore argued it is in the Americans' interests to accept a deal he is legally entitled to conclude.
"I think it's rather sad," he said of the public boardroom battle. "Their legacy by any stretch of the imagination was never going to be good. This was the one final opportunity where they could walk away with their heads held high, saying to the Liverpool fans: 'We said we would deliver you the right owners, we have, and we did it at great personal cost.' But they chose, effectively, in my view, to suffer the great personal cost and walk away humiliated as a result. That's their choice and I think it's a pity."
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