Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Liverpool High Court Hearing To Be Held On Tuesday After RBS Gain Injunction Against Board Member Firings

Liverpool's hearing to decide if NESV can finally take over the club, will take place at 10:30 am on Tuesday, at the High Court.

The Royal Bank of Scotland, who are the club's major creditors, have taken the case to court to ascertain a legal decision on whether NESV's proposed takeover of the Reds is legal.

One of the club's current American owners, Tom Hicks, is contesting the legality of the sale because he says board members Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre were sacked before they and chairman Martin Broughton agreed to the sale of the club to NESV (New England Sports Ventures).

Broughton, Purslow and Ayre agreed to the sale despite owners George Gillett and Hicks voting against it, and the Premier League subsequently approved the new owners. But the dispute over the status of the board had thrown the takeover into some doubt.

RBS have now revealed that they obtained an injunction against Hicks on Friday, preventing him from changing the make-up of the board (by removing Purslow, Ayres and Broughton) until after the case had been heard.

They are claiming Hicks and Gillett breached their agreement with the bank by attempting to remove Broughton, the British Airways chief, after all parties agreed to his appointment in April so he could find a suitable buyer for the club.

"RBS, in its capacity as lender to the Kop group of companies, received the benefit of various contractual undertakings from Mr. Hicks and Mr. Gillett in relation to the corporate governance arrangements that Mr. Hicks and Mr. Gillett agreed would apply to the Kop group of companies with effect from April 2010," a statement from the bank reads.

"Those undertakings provided for the appointment of Mr. Broughton as chairman of the board and the appointment of the chief executive and commercial director of LFC to the Kop boards.

"As is well known, Mr. Hicks and Mr. Gillett purported to make changes to those corporate governance arrangements on 4 October. This was in breach of those contractual undertakings.

"In light of that purported breach of contract RBS sought and obtained on Friday 8 October 2010 an interim injunction against Mr. Hicks and Mr. Gillett until a further hearing scheduled for tomorrow [Tuesday].

"Among other things, that interim injunction prevents Mr. Hicks or Mr. Gillett taking any steps to remove or replace Mr. Broughton from his position as chairman of the board of the Kop companies or from taking any other steps to appoint or remove any directors from the board of the Kop companies."

The sale will likely go through as planned if the court finds in favour of RBS. If Hicks is successful in his argument, however, he will have to find a new buyer before the bank's crucial loan deadline of October 15 or the club could fall into administration.

The American owners are unhappy with the sale to NESV because they will leave the club without a return on their £140 million investment.

NESV's takeover will completely wipe out the debts owed to RBS by Gillett and Hicks, including the interest payments owed on the debts.

The case will take place in Court 18 in front of Mr. Justice Floyd. Liverpool fans are expected to go travel to London to protest against the American owners.

Liverpool Set To Receive New Offer For The Club From Rival Singaporian Bidder

Liverpool’s ownership saga may not be over as the club looked set to receive another bid from Asia.

A report from the BBC suggests that billionaire Peter Lim, who was the runner-up in the original bidding, is to approach the Anfield board to make a higher offer for the club.

Sources close to Mr. Lim have indicated he was Liverpool’s preferred choice in the closing stages of the auctions.

Allegedly, Mr. Lim was so confident with his proposals, he had talks with Martin Broughton on the best way to announce his takeover. The Singaporean businessman's offer was similar to the bid by John Henry’s New England Sport Ventures (NESV), and would pay off all of Liverpool’s outstanding debt and offer £40million of working capital.

Unlike Liverpool’s current owners, Mr. Lim was also planning to finance his takeover with his own money, and not rely on loans from banks.

Besides the glittering prospect of a debt-free club, Lim was planning to provide Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson with substantial funds to spend on improving the team.

Liverpool are in the bottom three in the Premier League and have been overshadowed by takeover talks for the whole of the current campaign, and much of last season.

According to Mr. Lim’s sources, the Anfield board were concerned by NESV’s intentions to borrow some of the money to finance their deal, fearing the club would not actually be free of the financial restrictions they’re experiencing under George Gillett and Tom Hick’s current steerage.

NESV have promised they will not saddle any debt on to the club. Even so, Mr. Lim is keeping an eye on the ownership court case on Tuesday.

NESV Has No Intention Of Losing Liverpool To Lim

ESPNsoccernet can disclose New England Sports Ventures (NESV) has a watertight contract to purchase Liverpool and has no intention of relinquishing that right despite a late attempt from Singapore businessman Peter Lim to launch a rival takeover bid.

The Liverpool board has agreed to sell the club to NESV for £300 million but their ability to do so has been challenged by co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Tuesday's High Court hearing will help to determine whether the takeover has the legal basis to reach completion.

But Lim, who is being advised by the British firm of lawyers Macfarlanes and by the Wong Partnership of Singapore, is preparing a rival offer and hopes to outbid NESV to take control of Liverpool.

It is understood that Lim's interest forced NESV to increase its original offer last week, leading the group, fronted by John W Henry, to emerge as the favoured party. Lim believes his offer was at least as attractive as that on the table from the owners of the Boston Red Sox.

It is being reported by the BBC that Lim was told Liverpool's board was concerned that NESV would have to borrow to finance the takeover. But Henry's group has insisted it will not load up the Premier League side with debt.

The American group's £300 million agreement is signed and sealed, pending High Court hearings this week which will address the issue of whether chairman Martin Broughton and the board had the authority to sell the club against the wishes of the co-owners, who stand to lose £144 million if the NESV deal goes through.

Clearly Lim is looking closely at the opportunity that might arise if Hicks should win his court case, nullifying the NESV deal, and the club ends up in administration on Friday, when the deadline expires for the Americans to repay Royal Bank of Scotland £237 million.

Lim owns several Manchester United-themed bars in Asia and according to Forbes magazine is said to have a £1 billion fortune.

Liverpool Prepare For £95m Triple Swoop As Arsenal, Manchester City And AC Milan Prepare Star Bids

Liverpool are preparing themselves for an influx of bids for their top performers in the event that the club falls further from grace and finds itself in an unaccustomed position of having to fight a relegation battle that may ensue if the club is handed a nine point penalty for entering administration.

Arsenal are reportedly ready to reignite interest in Anfield keeper Pepe Reina, whilst Man City still harbour hopes of snaring unhappy Spaniard Fernando Torres whilst Ac Milan are eyeing up a big money move for Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.

The Merseyside club had looked like they were about to be saved by the New England Sporting Ventures offer for the club but co-owner Tom Hicks is refusing to budge leaving the club on the edge of a dangerous precipice as they prepare for a court case to resolve ownership issues.

Arsene Wenger had already reportedly made an offer in the region of £15m for the consistently performing Spanish international and the need for the Gunners to replace Manuel Almunia is ever more pressing after further errors from the Emirates number one. The Arsenal boss is apparently not convinced that Lukasz Fabianski is viable number one material hence a renewed attempt to snap up the 28 year old Pepe Reina.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini still has ambitions of snapping up Liverpool goal machine Fernando Torres and will push ever harder to achieve what seems an unlikely goal and hopes that the promise of the club’s potential title aspirations as well as a healthy pay rise may make the former Atletico Madrid man consider a move to Eastlands. A move that would cost the cash rich club in excess of £50m to complete.

New Ac Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri is known to be a huge admirer of England man Steven Gerrard and will also attempt to lure an Anfield star to the club should things get even worse at the club. It is thought that the club may look to secure funds to make a significant bid for the 30 year old Whiston Wonder and the Serie A side may believe that after 13 seasons at the club he may consider a new challenge and if so would only leave Liverpool for a move abroad.

Roy Hodgson will hope to fight off any interest resulting into actual sales but he will know that if the club does face a nine point penalty then things could get a hell of a lot worse than they currently are. Many supporters had probably wondered if it was possible to despise Tom Hicks any more than they already did, well it seems that hatred for the American has in fact sunken to depths hitherto thought unimaginable.

Reina Wants Out As Hodgson Joins "Great Dane" Chase

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina is rumoured to be unsettled at Anfield and has reportedly alerted the Reds hierarchy to his state of mind with manager Roy Hodgson subsequently joining the chase for Aalesund goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard. It is understood that the highly rated Danish stopper will seek a move to one of the Premier League's top clubs in January.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and an un-named Spanish club are thought to have joined the race for Reina who has been linked with a move away from Anfield since the start of the summer.

Lindegaard, 26, is also being monitored by Arsenal, as well as Aston Villa, Manchester United, AC Milan and Bayern Munich, however, no formal bids have been lodged with his club. The goalkeeper is now actively encouraging offers as he looks to seal a move to top European club in the January transfer window.

Sir Alex Ferguson has sent goalkeeping coach Eric Steele to watch the player on a number of occasions while Arsene Wenger is monitoring the stopper. Villa have emerged as an option with new manager Gerard Houllier an adamant fan. It has now also emerged that Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has sent scouts to watch the Dane with fears rising at Anfield that Reina could quit the club.

Sport.co.uk understands that while Lindegaard is eager to play in the Premier League, it depends which clubs make approaches for him with his representative admitting he is open to other top European leagues with Milan and Munich registering their intent.
The agent of Lindegaard Michael Stensgaard told Sport.co.uk in an exclusive interview:

“It is difficult to talk about his future. At the moment he is playing well and is with the Danish national team. That is where he will stay for the moment, until a club come in with an official offer (Anders) is just focusing on his club and country, not speculation. “He continued.

“There are some interesting clubs following him and he is an interesting talent. He has been suited to the Premier League for many years and he is suited to all of Europe’s top leagues. He is very good with his feet and he also stands up as a traditional English keeper, he is not just a good shot stopper.

Arsene Wenger is also a rumoured suitor following the underwhelming performances of Manuel Almunia, but the former Liverpool and Southampton stopper Stensgaard refused to rule out his client moving to another league in Europe.

“The Premier League is a possibility but if other teams from other leagues come in for him we will look at it.” He concluded.

Manchester United & Manchester City To Go Head-To-Head To Land Liverpool's Fernando Torres

Manchester City and Manchester United are to go head-to-head to exploit the upheaval at Liverpool to land £40 million striker Fernando Torres, according to the Manchester Evening News.

Torres, 26, has reportedly grown unsettled on Merseyside following off the field problems and the club's poor form this season. Even the potential takeover from New England Sports Ventures is not believed to be enough to convince him to stay.

Despite the announcement of recent losses of more than £80m, United are understood to be ready to delve into their £150m cash reserves to try and land the star. City hopes to hold the upper hand, however, due to the intense rivalry between United and Liverpool and owner Sheikh Mansour's bottomless wealth.

Amid Liverpool Turmoil, England's Young Future Rests At Anfield

The headlines recently surrounding Liverpool have been anything but positive. The proposed takeover by New England Sports Ventures (NESV) is still far from finalized and Roy Hodgson's side find themselves in the unfamiliar territory of the relegation zone.

However, look carefully behind the headlines at Anfield and you will find a thriving youth system which could just hold the key to not only Liverpool's but also England's future.

There are signs that the FA are beginning to take youth football seriously. Once upon a time, under-17 and under-19 tournaments were viewed almost as an inconvenience. Now, especially given Spain's success in having developed and educated an entire generation of players to win the ultimate prize, England's youth teams are approached more professionally and are well worth watching.

Over the summer, the under-17 side won England's first age-specific title since 1993, defeating Spain in the final to lift the European under-17 championship. It is worth noting that the last England side to win a title, the successful European under-18 champions in 1993, included the likes of Paul Scholes, Sol Campbell, Nicky Butt, Robbie Fowler and Gary Neville – Not a bad crop.

Many of the summer's under-17 champions are now producing the goods for Noel Blake's under-19 side. They recorded two good victories over the weekend in the qualifying tournament of the European under-19 championship and the young lions appear to be roaring their way to next summer's finals in Romania, where they will fancy their chances.

The big hope is that this crop of players will get used to performing and winning in tournaments at a young age. By the time they become senior internationals, they will be less likely to choke on the big stage in the same way that Fabio Capello's side did in South Africa.

If this group of youngsters is to succeed, the likelihood is that it will also produce an exciting generation of new stars at Liverpool. IMScouting takes a look at five of the Anfield starlets who are central to England's youth sides and of course are ones to watch for the future.

Andre Wisdom
Age: 17
Position: Centre-back

Wisdom has progressed at a remarkable pace. Plucked from Bradford City's youth system aged 14, at only 15-years-old, he was playing for Liverpool's under-18 side. That is testament to both Wisdom's maturity as a footballer and his physical attributes.

Wisdom is a big, strong imposing defender. Unsurprisingly, one of his main attributes is his aerial ability. He is also very quick, despite his size. However, as is crucial for the footballer of today, Wisdom also has excellent technique and is comfortable on the ball.

Aged just 15, Wisdom played a major role in Liverpool's run to the FA Youth Cup final, despite being two years younger than most players in the tournament. During that run, he starred mainly at right-back, but was also used in midfield and at centre-back. Last summer, he scored at both ends in the final of the European Under-17 Championship and cemented his role in the heart of defence.

Wisdom appears to be a born leader too and could be heard constantly barking instructions to his team-mates during last weekend's England under-19 fixtures.

Conor Coady
Age: 17
Position: Central midfield/ centre-back

Coady captained the England under-17 side to glory last summer, where he partnered Wisdom to form a formidable defensive partnership at that level.

He is now playing for Liverpool's under-18 side and reserves, largely as a defensive midfielder. The fact that Coady is versatile enough to play both in defence and in midfield is potentially an excellent attribute to have. However, he must be wary that he doesn't become a bit part utility player.

Coady has a good footballing brain and also has the brawn to make it difficult for opponents in midfield. Although he isn’t the type of player to play impressive cross-field passes, he is very adept at breaking up play and playing short and effective balls. He is also strong in the air and has the pace to keep up with opponents on the counter-attack.

Coady, like Wisdom is another vocal character and a leader on the pitch. He has the attributes to be the driving force behind a team.

Jonjo Shelvey
Age: 18
Position: Central midfield

Slightly older than Coady and Wisdom, Shelvey has plenty of experience under his belt already. He became Charlton Athletic's youngest ever player at 16 years and 59 days and soon became their youngest ever scorer too.

Shelvey rejected the interest of Chelsea before Charlton finally cashed in on the youngster, Liverpool paying a not insignificant £1.7 million for the player last April. He has since gone on to captain the England under-19 side and make his Liverpool first-team debut in this season's shock Carling Cup exit to Northampton Town.

Shelvey's style brings about automatic comparisons to Steven Gerrard. Time will tell whether that eventually serves to help or hinder him. He has a real dynamism to his game and possesses the energy to be a very effective box-to-box player. Shelvey also has an eye for goal and can make things happen going forward. Considered something of a set-piece specialist, Shelvey is also capable of playing as a second striker.

All in all, that £1.7 million could prove to be a real bargain for Liverpool in the long run.

Michael Ngoo
Age: 17
Position: Striker

Another star of the current England under-19 side, Ngoo is a tall, pacey striker. At 6ft 4in, Ngoo's physical presence is clearly a major asset. However, he also has pace to match and Liverpool certainly saw enough in him to lay out an estimated £250,000 to take him from Southend United as a 16-year-old.

Some have compared him to Peter Crouch, but Ngoo's pace sets him apart. In addition to being a threat on goal, he is composed on the ball and is able to find his team-mates in dangerous positions.

Ngoo is widely considered to have had a fine first season at Anfield with the under 18-side and a particular highlight was a Maradona-esque solo effort against Stoke City. There are question marks over whether he will develop into a prolific goalscorer, but Ngoo has done enough to push for the reserve team this season.

Raheem Sterling
Age: 15
Position: Midfield

Sterling is still very much an academy player at Anfield, but is certainly one for the future. Liverpool beat off significant competition from the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United to take Sterling from QPR for a reported initial £300,000 earlier this year.

England under-16 international Sterling was already playing reserve team football at QPR as a 15-year-old when he arrived at Anfield. He still has a very slight build, but possesses undoubted natural ability and flies down the flanks. He is quick, very skillful and has very good balance, meaning that he usually gets the better of his man. Usually utilized in wide positions, some have compared him to Theo Walcott.

Sterling announced his arrival at Anfield with an excellent performance for the under-18s against rivals Everton. Aged only 15, Sterling terrorized the Toffees and scored as the Reds ran out 4-3 winners.

Such is his potential that Sterling even played for the first-team over the summer in pre-season friendlies.

Reds Driver In The Money

Liverpool’s Superleague Formula race ace Frederic Vervisch produced a great performance to finish third in race one amid chaotic scenes in Beijing on Sunday.

Rain, fog and fading light meant that stewards took the sensible decision not to run the event-ending Super final, meaning that the €100,000 cheque for the 'weekend winner' was handed to Earl Bamber (PSV Eindhoven), who scored most points from the two 40-minute feature races, for the second time in seven days.

It was a good prize day for Vervisch took home €50,000 - a just reward after two superb overtaking-filled performances from the Belgian.

Race two was a chaotic, red-flag interrupted affair, as weather conditions changed mid-race and several drivers went off in the slippery conditions.

Reflecting on the events in Beijing, Vervisch said: "It's been a really good weekend and the result is excellent considering from where I started the first race.

"Qualifying wasn't good but we continued to work hard afterwards and we were fast in both races. I'm happy that the car is in one piece and I'm holding a cheque!

"I would have liked to have raced in the Super Final, but on the other hand you saw what happened in Ordos when drivers are racing for money, so maybe it was a good decision!"

Race 12, the final races in the Superleague Formula series this season, heads to Circuito de Navarra, Spain over the weekend of October 23/24.