Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Liverpool Look To Invest In Players After Sale To Red Sox Owner

Liverpool today announced that the board has agreed the sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures, owners of Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox team.

"I am delighted that we have been able to successfully conclude the sale process which has been thorough and extensive," club chairman Martin Broughton said in a statement on Liverpool's website.

"The board decided to accept NESV's proposal on the basis that it best met the criteria we set out originally for a suitable new owner.

"NESV's philosophy is all about winning and they have fully demonstrated that at Red Sox.

"We've met them in Boston, London and Liverpool over several weeks and I am immensely impressed with what they have achieved and with their vision for Liverpool Football Club.

Broughton added: "By removing the burden of acquisition debt, this offer allows us to focus on investment in the team.

"I am only disappointed that the owners [Tom Hicks and George Gillett] have tried everything to prevent the deal from happening and that we need to go through legal proceedings in order to complete the sale."

The takeover would make Red Sox principal owner John Henry a key figure in the new-look Liverpool boardroom.

Liverpool confirmed that the takeover was subject to resolution of a legal dispute with their current American owners Hicks and Gillett and on Premier League approval.

Today's development followed an announcement by Liverpool on Tuesday that they had received two new bids - "excellent financial offers" from NESV and another from Asia - which would wipe out the club's approximate debt.

Liverpool must repay or refinance about £280m in loans to Royal Bank of Scotland by Oct. 15.

Hicks and Gillett value the club at £600m and are opposed to a sale which would leave them with little from the proceeds.

Yesterday, Hicks and Gillett failed in their attempt to sack Liverpool's managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre to retain control of the club.

The US owners, who bought the club in 2007 and have since invested more than $270 million in the club, said in a statement that the bids "dramatically undervalue the club". They insisted they would not go without a fight and are looking for a "fair price that reflects the very significant investment we've made".

New England Sports Ventures currently owns a portfolio of companies including the Boston Red Sox, New England Sports Network, Fenway Sports Group and Rousch Fenway Racing.

NESV's John Henry is reported to be a popular man among Red Sox fans. After taking over the club in a $690 million buyout in 2002, he helped the team win baseball's World Series in 2004 for the first time since 1918. They won it again in 2007.

Henry invested heavily in renovating the storied Fenway Park, the oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, and has turned the Red Sox into one of North American sports most profitable franchises.

Liverpool fans will be hoping the 61-year-old billionaire can now work his magic on the crisis-hit Reds, who currently lie third from bottom of the Premier League with just six points from seven games.

"High Valuation" Derailed Kirdi Bid For Liverpool

Syrian businessman Yahya Kirdi has revealed why he and other investors and potential buyers are avoiding buying Liverpool, as Anfield's board plan an emergency crisis meeting on Wednesday.

Kirdi revealed that the embattled club needs "millions and millions" spent on making it competitive enough to challenge for trophies, and that a new owner would need the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to defer most of the £237 million of debt that is owed to the bank. Canada-based Kirdi also disclosed that current co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are in conflict with their English directors in a massive boardroom split.

Liverpool are suffering in the Premier League relegation zone after their worst league start for more than half a century and manager Roy Hodgson is already under heavy fire, despite only having arrived at the club in July.

Kirdi, whose interest in the club was revealed in August only to swiftly ebb away, insisted that potential buyers would want RBS to defer much of the repayment of the loan as a condition of buying the team. "That would allow investment in the team and work on the new stadium to begin," he said, adding that his group shelved plans to acquire Liverpool after failing to agree on a price.

In June the Liverpool board prevented an attempt by Hicks to refinance the £237 million debt, which now stands at around £280 million because of penalty fees, and have since tried to block any new refinancing plans put to the board. Hicks last month failed to secure a refinancing deal with American investment group Blackstone.

"Right now is not the time for me and my group to enter into any negotiations," Kirdi told Bloomberg. "Once everyone is united and there's logic in the price and the overall deal, me and my group will be prepared to return to the table." RBS has set an October 15 deadline on its debt so any possible buyers are running out of time to reach a deal with Barclays Capital, which has been appointed by Gillett and Hicks in April to handle the sale of the club they acquired in 2007.

Kirdi admitted that his refusal to name his backers has provoked some Liverpool supporters into questioning his seriousness as Gillett's son Foster is a known friend of Kirdi. "I'm a serious man," he said. "I'm not playing but my group said they didn't want to go public because we haven't done the deal."

No Points Penalty Possible For Reds, Say Premier League

The Premier League will not dock points from Liverpool if the club’s American owners’ company Kop Holdings goes into administration next week, it can be revealed.

There have been suggestions that if Tom Hicks and George Gillett block a £300m (€344m) takeover for the club by New England Sports Ventures, owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, then their holding company would be put into administration by the Royal Bank of Scotland over their unpaid £280m (€321m) debts.

That would not lead to an automatic points deduction for the Reds however – the Premier League have clarified the rules regarding parent companies so that if the club itself is a fully solvent entity – as Liverpool is – then the penalty clause should not apply.

A Premier League source said: “The aim of the regulations is primarily to capture clubs who have gone into insolvency. This is manifestly not the case with Liverpool Football Club.”

For example, last year West Ham’s Icelandic owners went into administration but that did not lead to any Premier League action as the club itself was solvent.

All prospective owners are obliged to give the league 10 days’ notice of a takeover and prove they have the funds to sustain the club.

Any prospective owners have to have a face-to-face meeting with league chiefs to convince them they have enough money for the season to come.

Juventus Linked With Liverpool Striker Fernando Torres

Juventus' search for a striker has widened to Merseyside with Liverpool hitman Fernando Torres firmly on the club's transfer agenda.

La Gazzetta dello Sport claims Torres is generating an increased interest from the Old Lady, who have also been linked with Wolfsburg forward Edin Dzeko and Real Madrid's Karim Benzema.

But Torres, 26, represents a decent target for Juventus, who have been encouraged to foster a January move given Liverpool's poor form in the Premier League.

The Reds are languishing in the relegation zone. Torres, like the rest of his team, has struggled for fitness and form. Fans have shown increased tension, and it could all boil over and lead to an exodus of players from the club.

The Spaniard fits the bill in Turin with Juventus eager to land an international striker with calibre and quality.

Juventus Seek Cut-Price €11.5m Deal For Liverpool Flop Alberto Aquilani

Juventus will seek to profit from Liverpool's financial troubles by sealing a cut-price €11.5 (£10) million deal for Alberto Aquilani in the January transfer window, according to the Daily Mail.

The 26-year-old Italy midfielder, who made just 18 starts with the Reds since his £18m move from Roma last year, joined Juve on a season-long loan in the summer.

A permanent £16m move has been discussed, but Juve sense an opportunity to lower the price and are ready to negotiate it down to around £10m. They may also make an approach for defender Glen Johnson if they fail to prise Gregory van der Wiel away from Ajax.

Liverpool’s former Ajax winger Ryan Babel could be leaving in a swap deal for Valencia star Juan Mata, as revealed by, as the Anfield club seek to wheel-and-deal in the market as debts threaten to consume the club.

However, Liverpool's fortunes may change imminently with reports suggesting at least three groups are interesting in taking over the club with the potential to wipe out the clubs estimated £351.4m debt.

John Barnes Predicts A Premier League Top Six Finish

Liverpool legend John Barnes believes that the club can recover to finish in the top six in the Premier League.

The Reds have had a dreary start to the season, winning only one of their seven league games to date. And the recent defeat to Blackpool also saw them being condemned to a spot in the bottom three.

But the 46-year-old believes that the gap that separates the club from a place in the top six is one that is surmountable.

"If you look at the Premier League now for example, we all thought that Chelsea were going to run away with it with Arsenal and Manchester United," Barnes said, according to The Mirror.

"So the fact that Liverpool are now third from bottom, they are four or five points from fifth spot, I have no fears that Liverpool will be in the top six."

Concerning the pressure on individual players, Barnes insists that the arrival of Joe Cole and Raul Meireles will soon lift the burden off the shoulders of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

He said: "I'm excited for Liverpool because I think in the last three years the creative onus has been on Gerrard and Torres but with Joe Cole coming to the team and Meireles I think once they bed in they will improve.

"The exciting thing for me is they were able to get the quality of Cole and Meireles when normally you would think that they aren't going to be able to get players of those qualities, so that looks good for Liverpool.

"And hopefully if the ownership changes and they get some money in. But it's [going to] take time."

Recent developments concerning the ownership saga has seen a boardroom battle erupt at Liverpool, with the American owners trying to prevent the sale of the club.

Poulsen Admits Liverpool Are In 'Big Crisis'

Liverpool midfielder Christian Poulsen warned his team-mates that results must improve after admitting that he believes the club are currently in a "big crisis".

The Reds, who have agreed a takeover deal with New England Sports Ventures, are currently in the Premier League's relegation zone after a disastrous sequence of results at the start of Roy Hodgson's reign.

After a humiliating Carling Cup exit at the hands of League Two's Northampton Town, Liverpool were held at home by Sunderland in the league before slumping to defeat against Blackpool.

But while Hodgson has insisted that his club are not embroiled in a relegation fight, Denmark international Poulsen - a £6 million signing from Juventus - does not appear quite so confident.

"Liverpool are a big club and we should be taking all three points against Blackpool and Sunderland, especially with home advantage," Poulsen said. "But we only managed one point from the two games, and that shows you were are in big crisis.

"Certain results have not been good enough. I find it really difficult to come up with an explanation. We made mistakes and lost possession against Blackpool and Sunderland and they punished us with goals each time.

"I can already tell how big Liverpool are as a club. Everything is on such a large scale. Whenever we only draw a game, even when it is away, it is made to look like a defeat. That is the level of expectation with Liverpool, which sometimes takes you by surprise.

"We drew 0-0 in Utrecht in the Europa League and you would think some sort of catastrophe had happened. That was the reaction - yet we are top of our group, unbeaten on four points from two games."

McMahon: We Deserved More

John McMahon felt his side were extremely unfortunate to lose 1-0 to West Ham United at Prenton Park on Tuesday night.

A late penalty from experienced striker Benni McCarthy earned the Hammers the three points, but McMahon claimed his team deserved at least a draw.

Ryan Babel played the full 90 minutes up front and Steven Irwin was inches away from securing a last gap equaliser when he headed just wide.

"Losing the game is really harsh for us because West Ham were hanging on at the end," McMahon told

"I thought we dominated proceedings in the first half and Brad Jones was called upon very little. They were a good side and more experienced than we were but full credit to our lads because they deserved more from the game.

"We had some chances. Dani Pacheco hit the top of the bar but we were disappointed with the penalty. I thought it was harsh as arms were flying all over the place.

"There were a lot of positives to take from the game and the lads will have gained a lot from this.

"We had three 17-year-olds in our back four and they all did really well, so that is pleasing for the future."