Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Anfield joy as Liverpool sold to New England Sports Ventures

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 12: Supporters of Liverpool Football Club demonstrate outside the High Court on October 12, 2010 in London, England. The Royal Bank of Scotland, which holds the majority of Liverpool's debts, is seeking a high court order to prevent the American co-owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr, from removing the chairman Martin Broughton and another board member. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
The financier who heads New England Sports Ventures, owners of Boston's Baseball Club Boston Red Sox, John Henry arrives at a lawyer's office in London, Friday, Oct. 15, 2010, where Liverpool FC's club directors are meeting . Liverpool's owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr are withdrawing their Texas court order blocking the sale of the club but could still find a way to stop the proposed 300 million pound ($476 million) takeover by NESV.(AP Photo/Lennart Preiss)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Liverpool Football Club chairman Martin Broughton arrives at the offices of the law firm Slaughter and May on October 15, 2010 in London, England. The future ownership of the famous football club has been subject to legal injunctions in the UK and USA after an attempt by the clubs owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, to prevent the sale to the American sports company NESV. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Liverpool today confirmed the club has been bought for £300million by New England Sports Ventures, owners of the Boston Red Sox, after Tom Hicks and George Gillett were defeated in their legal battle to stop the takeover.

New owner John W Henry said he was "proud and humble" after today's takeover, adding: "We're here to win."

The purchase of Liverpool brings an end to Hicks and Gillett's three-and-a-half years at the club but almost certainly not an end to the saga.

Hicks and Gillett have promised to sue for £1billion in damages, claiming the sale to NESV was "illegal", and have threatened to launch another destabilising legal action.

Mr Henry, the principal owner of NESV, said: "On behalf of the entire NESV partnership, I want to express how incredibly proud and humbled we are to be confirmed as the new owners of Liverpool FC.

"We regard our role as that of stewards for the club with a primary focus on returning the club to greatness on and off the field for the long-term.

"We are committed first and foremost to winning. We have a history of winning, and today we want LFC supporters to know that this approach is what we intend to bring to this great club."

Liverpool's independent chairman Martin Broughton added: "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 offer on the basis that it best met the criteria we set out originally for a new owner. NESV is buying Liverpool in order to put it on an excellent financial footing and continue to develop it internationally.

"This is a good deal which comprehensively resolves the pressing issue of the club's debt and should give staff, players and fans great confidence regarding the future of Liverpool FC."

A statement from Hicks' and Gillett's New York representatives announced they were suing over "an extraordinary swindle" but appeared to accept that they will have to relinquish ownership of the club.

Steve Stodghill, the Texas lawyer representing the duo, said: "This outcome not only devalues the club but it also will result in long-term uncertainty for the fans, players and everyone who loves this sport because all legal recourses will be pursued.

"Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett pledged to pay the debt to RBS so that the club could avoid administration that was threatened by RBS. That offer was rejected.

"It is a tragic development that others will claim as a victory. This means it won't be resolved the way it should be resolved."









Timeline to Liverpool takeover

The unhappy tenure of George Gillett and Tom Hicks as Liverpool owners is finally at an end after a number of false starts and some extensive legal wrangling.

Here we highlight the key developments of the sale since the turn of the year,

March 2010 - New-York based private equity firm the Rhone Group make £110million bid for a 40% stake in Liverpool but Hicks and Gillett fail to respond within the deadline.

April - Club is put up for sale with Martin Broughton appointed interim chairman to oversee the process. A requirement of major creditors Royal Bank of Scotland is a change on the new board, with Broughton, Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre all given a majority vote to prevent the Americans blocking a sale.

May - Financial results for the year ending July 2009 show the club made a record pre-tax loss of £54.9million, with interest repayments on loans undertaken by Hicks and Gillett accounting for £40.1m of that.

October 4 - Liverpool announce they have received two "excellent" bids. Hicks and Gillett fail to oust Purslow and Ayre to prevent a sale. The Americans claim bids undervalue club and pledge to fight for a fair price.

October 5 - Liverpool confirm they have accepted a £300million offer from New England Sports Ventures, who also own the Boston Red Sox baseball team, which would clear all acquisition debt.

October 8 - RBS secure temporary injunction preventing Hicks or Gillett making any changes to the board. Premier League give approval for NESV to become new owners.

October 12 - RBS v Hicks and others hearing held in High Court. The bank claim breach of contract, the owners claim board have not considered all offers for sale of the club. Singapore businessman Peter Lim submits new £320million bid and pledges £40million for January transfer window. Mill Financial, now the owners of Gillett's 50% share, also express interest in purchase, claiming their offer would also include £100million towards new stadium.

October 13 - The High Court grants injunctions that could open the way for the prompt sale of the club. Tom Hicks and George Gillett's plea to delay the hearing of an application by creditors Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) for mandatory orders paving the way for a possible sale was rejected by Mr Justice Floyd, and the Americans were refused the right to appeal.

NESV's John Henry attends a Liverpool board meeting in London with the sale of the club set to go through. Hicks and Gillett release a statement claiming a Texas State District Court "has granted a temporary restraining order" while also announcing intention to sue for £1billion.

October 14 - RBS return to High Court to challenge restraining order. Mr Justice Floyd again rules in the bank's favour, stating "This case has nothing to do with Texas." The judge gives Hicks and Gillett until 4pm BST on October 15 to comply.

October 15 - NESV complete the purchase of Liverpool.

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