Hicks And Gillett Lose Liverpool
Justice Christopher Floyd may have ended Tom Hicks and George Gillett’s ownership of Liverpool soccer club, but it still isn’t clear who the new owners will be.
Justice Floyd ruled in favour of Royal Bank Of Scotland in London’s High Court Oct. 13, saying Hicks and Gillett were wrong to try to block the sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures. He didn’t grant them leave to appeal.
But club chairman Martin Broughton immediately caused confusion by saying the judgment didn’t mean the £300 million deal with the owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team would automatically go through.
He said that later in the day “a reconvened board” would meet to discuss the sale.
He declined to clarify whether he meant the new board wouldn’t necessarily rubber-stamp the £300 million deal with NESV, or whether it would also discuss the highly publicised new offer from Singapore billionaire Peter Lim.
He told confused reporters it would be “inappropriate” to discuss the matter before the board meets.
NESV released a statement congratulating Liverpool’s board and fans on the result of the court case, pointing out it has a written agreement to buy the club.
Lim hit back with a statement saying he hoped the court ruling cleared the way for the board to look at his offer for Liverpool, which is £20 million higher and also makes provision for £40 million to be spent on new players.
The re-convened board will likely include Broughton, Hicks, Gillett, and managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre, the two men Hicks and Gillett sacked in a bid to block the NESV deal.
Although they can do nothing to hinder the sale of the club, Justice Floyd did allow that Hicks and Gillett are entitled to attend board meetings and be part of any discussion regarding the sale of the club.
Whatever Broughton said to reporters outside the court, it looks unlikely the board has any viable option other than selling to John W. Henry’s American sports business.
Liverpool owes Royal Bank Of Scotland £237 million and a deal needs to be done before the money is due to be repaid Oct. 15.
Broughton has signed an agreement to sell to NESV and it’s hard to see how the board can carry out due diligence on any rival bidder in the two days before the RBS deadline.
“I’m disappointed they tried to breach the undertakings they made,” Broughton told Sky News immediately after the judgment went against Hicks and Gillett.
The sound broadcast was soon cut due to the language of the chants Liverpool fans outside the court were directing at the outgoing American owners.
Hicks and Gillett’s three-year venture in English soccer has likely cost them at least £150 million.