Friday 15 December 2017

Sox appeal at Anfield

Prospective Liverpool owners vow to destroy debt and restore success

Prospective new Liverpool owners New England Sports Ventures (NESV) are determined to restore the club's former glories.

The America-based group, who have made a success of their takeover of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, agreed a £300m deal yesterday.

It is subject to a legal challenge next week by current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who want to block the sale and hold out for a bigger valuation so as not to lose £140m on the deal, but the remainder of the three-man board -- led by chairman Martin Broughton -- are confident the sale will go through.

And NESV have moved to allay fears about more American ownership at Anfield.

"NESV wants to help bring back the culture of winning to Liverpool FC," they said in a statement.

"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."

NESV also promised to rid the club of their crippling debts.

"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," the statement added.

"Our objective is to stabilise the club and ultimately return Liverpool FC to its rightful place in English and European football, successfully competing for and winning trophies."

NESV are principally owned by John W Henry and have been credited with restoring the fortunes of the Red Sox.

The Premier League have given a huge boost to the takeover by saying they would be ready to give the deal the go-ahead as early as Friday.


Hicks and Gillett are claiming the figure of £300m undervalues the club, although they bought it for £219m in 2007.

NESV are also committed to tackling the thorny problem of a new stadium, and recognise that Anfield cannot be kept on in its current state.

When they took over the Red Sox nine years ago they decided against building a new stadium and instead regenerated the historic Fenway Park, a decision that has since paid off in revenue terms.

They will need to be convinced that they could not do the same with Anfield before committing themselves to any completely new stadium.

The takeover deal has been steered through by Broughton, installed by the Royal Bank of Scotland as part of their refinancing agreement with Hicks and Gillett in April.

"I can understand why there might be an instant reaction about them being American," said Broughton.

"But being American is not a problem, leveraged ownership of a football club is the problem.

"I just hope we can deliver what we have set out to do.

"We have found the right owners. There will be money to invest in the squad.

"If you look at the Boston Red Sox, they have taken a major traditional team, previously successful but not at their peak, and resuscitated it to be a winner.

"They have been the most successful team since acquiring the Red Sox in 2001 -- there are parallels with Liverpool."


Broughton said NESV would seriously look at building a new stadium or possibly redeveloping Anfield.

He added: "There is definitely a commitment to invest in a stadium and we will finish up with a 60,000-plus seater stadium.

"Where they haven't finalised their view is whether that should be the new stadium or whether there are still opportunities to build at Anfield itself."

Broughton did his best to reassure fans who are wary that more American owners could lead Liverpool down the same path Hicks and Gillett did.

"This is a very profitable organisation. It has a substantial number of wealthy investors -- about 17 I think -- and it has very little debt in the organisation," he said.

"I understand the concerns but they are not (replacing one massive debt) with another one."

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