Wednesday 13 December 2017

Club sale to be decided in High Court

LIVERPOOL's fate will be decided in the High Court after Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr contested a £300m sale to the owners of the Boston Red Sox, announced by the club's directors yesterday.

The case could be heard tomorrow as chairman Martin Broughton seeks a quick resolution to a protracted ownership saga that, he admitted, was affecting the performance of the team.

Broughton, appointed in April by the Royal Bank of Scotland, is confident that he will win a judgement next week, paving the way for a sale by the bank's £200m loan repayment deadline of October 15.

But Hicks and Gillett are promising to put up a fight as they face a loss of £140m on the club they bought in 2007. The Premier League said that it could approve the change of ownership to New England Sports Ventures (NESV) by tomorrow.

"I am comfortable going to court," Broughton said.

A veteran of corporate battles, he has upped the stakes in the sale of Liverpool after Hicks and Gillett had tried to sack managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre on Tuesday.

However, Broughton, who has sole power to change the board after conditions imposed on the Americans by RBS under a deal to extend their credit -- a right disputed by Hicks and Gillett -- ignored their objections.

He has accused the pair of "a flagrant abuse" of their commitments as they lurched towards a default with RBS.

"It's an impending debt," Broughton said. "If you cannot pay it back, your primary obligation (as chairman) is to the creditors, not to the shareholders. I was not prepared to be their patsy."

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