Thursday, October 14, 2010

Martin Broughton Begins Fightback Against Tom Hicks After Injunction

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton and his legal advisers will this morning begin considering how to overturn the temporary restraining order filed by Tom Hicks that last night halted the sale of the club.

Broughton and John W Henry, owner of New England Sports Ventures, were close to sealing a £300 million deal before Hicks' dramatic 11th-hour intervention.

Discussions will now take place at the London offices of the club's solicitors, Slaughter & May, this morning with a full board meeting expected to follow once a legal strategy has been agreed.

One option being considered is to seek an order from a UK court ruling that the Texan writ has no jurisdiction.

An alternative will be to seek to have the temporary restraining order overturned by a higher court in Texas. This, though, could take longer and there is already an expectation that the case will take a couple of days to resolve leaving Liverpool's future uncertain until next week.

The timetable for resolving this issue may depend on whether Henry remains in the UK and sticks with the arranged plan to attend the Merseyside derby on Sunday.

Hicks’ suit, filed against Royal Bank of Scotland, club chairman Broughton, directors Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre, NESV and Liverpool finance director Philip Nash, claims damages totalling approximately $1.6 billion (over £1 billion).

The suit claims that RBS, the board and NESV conspired in an “epic swindle” to sell the club for less than its value.

Hicks accuses Broughton, Purslow and Ayre of acting “as pawns of RBS” for ignoring offers he says were higher than the £300m offered by NESV.

NESV Prepared To Wait To Buy Liverpool

Liverpool's prospective new owner NESV is prepared to wait to conclude its £300m takeover of the club.

The purchase was delayed on Wednesday after current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett gained an injunction.

But having earlier won a High Court battle to seemingly confirm the deal, NESV chief John Henry is set to wait.

"He is prepared to wait for the order to be lifted. Sources tell me he has binding agreements," BBC sports editor David Bond said.

Hicks and Gillett gained the injunction in a Texas court only hours after their bid to prevent the £300m sale to NESV had been thrown out by the High Court.

The petition, in which they describe the sale as an "epic swindle", is due to be heard on 25 October, though Bond suggested that those wanting to push through the deal - NESV, Liverpool's board and the club's creditor Royal Bank of Scotland - will aim for a swift resolution.

"RBS is likely to try to push through the deadline," added Bond.

"There are meetings going on between lawyers, especially RBS's lawyers, about what they do next and the feeling is they want to put pressure back on Hicks and Gillett to allow this deal to go through."

Peter Lim 'Could Be Endorsed As New Liverpool Owner' - Martin Broughton

Chairman Martin Brougton has revealed Liverpool's board could still reject a takeover offer from John W Henry's NESV group and endorse an improved bid from Singapore businessman Peter Lim at a meeting at Anfield on Wednesday night.

The High Court ruled in favour of the club after current co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett attempted to block a forced buy-out last week.

But despite confirming a takeover is now imminent after Mr. Justice Floyd's decision, Broughton stopped short of naming Henry as the successful bidder - suggesting Lim's increased offer of £320million could still be accepted.

On the Court steps after the hearing on Wednesday, Broughton described himself as 'elated' but said nothing is guaranteed ahead of a meeting that will be held later in the evening.

'The board has to be reconstituted and I can't prejudge what the board is going to say. It would be inappropriate to do so,' he revealed.

'I want to thank the fans for their support through a difficult time. We hope to have the board meeting on Wednesday evening.

'We will get the right owners for the fans.'

Reds Board To Discuss Bids

Martin Broughton has revealed that the Liverpool board will meet to discuss all bids for the club on Wednesday evening.

The Reds chairman was speaking as he left the High Court following a ruling which has paved the way for a takeover of the club to be put in place.

Current co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks had hoped to block a move for control at Anfield, with the offers on the table falling short of their valuation.

However, with the club's creditors, the Royal Bank of Scotland, looking to recoup a £237million loan by a deadline set for 15th October, Mr. Justice Floyd has sided in favour of Liverpool and RBS.

Discussions with interested parties can now begin in earnest, with the Reds keen to get new owners in place as soon as possible, allowing them to clear their debts and focus their attention on matters on the field.

It was believed that a £300million bid from John W Henry's New England Sports Ventures was the preferred choice of the Liverpool board, with that offer having already been accepted.

However, a rival bid from Singapore billionaire Peter Lim has left the Reds facing a quandary.

Lim has promised £320m in cash and a £40m transfer kitty for the January transfer window.

Chairman Broughton has confirmed that there is no guarantee that NESV will be successful in their efforts, with the Liverpool board yet to sit down and discuss the latest developments.

"The board will be properly reconstituted by eight o'clock this evening, that was the judge's order, and proceed with the sale process," he told Sky Sports News.

"This will clear the way for a sale, but I'm not going to prejudge the board meeting. It would be inappropriate to prejudge what the board is going to say.

"But the club's going to have a great future. We will re-establish the right basis for the club.

"The acquisition debt that has been plaguing us will be gone, we have a great future. We will get the right owners for the fans."

While keen to steer clear of takeover talk for now, Broughton is delighted with Wednesday's ruling which has given the board power to negotiate a sale.

He said: "It was an excellent outcome. We have been confident all along. We think we have done the right thing. When you go to court, though, you can never pre-judge it."

Broughton admits he is disappointed that Gillett and Hicks felt the need to take proceedings as far as they did, but is pleased that progress can now be made.

He added: "I am disappointed that they have acted in this way, to try and breach the undertakings they gave me. But up until then they have supported the process."

Reds Sale Given Go Ahead

George Gillett and Tom Hicks look set to be on their way out of Anfield, with a High Court ruling giving Liverpool power to push through a takeover.

The American duo, who have co-owned the Reds since 2007, have been reluctantly forced to concede that they cannot block a £300million bid from New England Sports Ventures.

NESV, who own the Boston Red Sox and are fronted by John W Henry, saw a formal offer accepted by the Liverpool board against the wishes of Hicks and Gillett.

With that offer set to see them make a sizeable loss on their investment, the Reds' co-owners attempted to disrupt proceedings and retain their stranglehold on the Merseyside giants.

However, their efforts to remove high-ranking members of the board proved fruitless and it quickly became apparent that they were fighting a losing battle.

Taking the matter to the High Court was Hicks and Gillett's last chance to stave off a sale they did not sanction and ensure they continued to hold power at Anfield.

Those efforts have been in vain, though, as Mr. Justice Floyd has given Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton the go-ahead to sell the club.

He sided in favour of the Royal Bank of Scotland, who are owed over £230m by Hicks and Gillett following their takeover.

The deadline for repayment on that loan was set at Friday, with fears raised that Liverpool could be docked nine points were the debt not settled and the club's holding company, Kop Holdings, were forced into administration.

That situation will be avoided should a takeover agreement with NESV now be put in place, with Henry making it clear that all outstanding debts will be cleared should he take charge.

Hicks and Gillett had asked a judge to delay the hearing of an application by RBS for mandatory orders but, at the bank's request, injunctions have been imposed on the two men requiring them to restore the original constitutions of the companies and managing directors.

While the way has now been paved for NESV to complete a takeover, there is still a chance that a rival bid from Singapore billionaire Peter Lim could be negotiated.

He has vowed to stump up £320million in cash to get the club back on an even keel, with £40m available for players in the January transfer window.

The saga could rumble on for some time yet, with a takeover deal now needing to be thrashed out, but Hicks and Gillett have been refused the right to appeal, meaning one hurdle has been cleared.

A statement released by Liverpool on their official website read: "We are delighted that the court has clarified the issue of board composition and has removed the uncertainty around the sale process.

"We will now be consulting with our lawyers and planning for a board meeting on Wednesday night. A further statement will be made in due course."

Liverpool Keen On £14m Rated La Liga Goal Machine

Liverpool are hoping to pull off something of a transfer coup by attempting to lure Villarreal striker Nilmar to Anfield in January. Roy Hodgson has earmarked the Brazilian international as one of a handful of striking talents he would like to sign when the transfer window reopens.

The 26 year old former Lyon man has been a huge hit in La Liga and has helped his over achieving Castellon side to second place with his fine performances and prolific goalscoring return. Nilmar is currently top scorer in Spain having scored five goals in six matches and has been a regular in the national team set up.

The talented attacker is thought to be looking for a big move that would help him cement a regular spot in the Brazilian starting eleven and may believe that he has gone as far as he can at Villarreal. A number of other sides are known to be interested in signing the striker with the likes of Chelsea and Juventus both being linked with potential moves.

Hodgson is hoping he will have significant funds to spend now that it appears that the club will be taken over by New England Sporting Ventures and it would take a bid in the region of £14m to land the in form Brazilian.

Liverpool Plan £12m January Raid To Capture Brazilian Goal Machine

Roy Hodgson has set his sights on Partizan striker Cleo as he looks to bring in some much needed firepower to his poorly performing Anfield side.

Liverpool have managed just seven goals thus far this season and only two of those have come from recognized strikers leaving Hodgson looking for alternative attacking options. With the issue of ownership of the club looking a lot clearer and the future looking more hopeful the Merseyside club hopes to have funds to reinvest in the coming transfer window.

25 year old Cleo has had a marvellous season netting an incredible 16 goals in 14 matches including nine in Champions League action. The powerfully built forward is a good target man with a great deal of flair and has a penchant for spectacular finishes.

Partizan will be reticent to lose the former Red Star Belgrade hit man but will also realize that such a move would be hugely tempting and are therefore more than likely to consider offers as long as they are in the region of their valuation which is reportedly around £12m.

Carragher: I Fear Anfield Player Clear-Out

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher fears the club's new owners will stage a mass clear-out at Anfield if their fortunes fail to improve.

Carragher claims that in their year of turmoil everything has changed – except the playing staff.

Getting rid of former boss Rafa Benitez has failed to lift the club, who languish in the bottom three following their loss to Blackpool on October 3.

And with new owners set to take over after the High Court blocked Tom Hicks and George Gillett's attempts to keep control at the club, Carragher has warned there may be big changes ahead.

He told Drive Time: “We have changed the manager, we have changed the board and if things don't change now then the players will go too.

“Everything else has changed, it is just the players who have stayed the same.”

Carragher added the High Court victory has come at a perfect time, ahead of this weekend's Merseyside derby at Goddison Park.

He said: “I hope we can look forward now. I don't think the protests have affected things too much, because the protests and marches were usually before or after games.

“The atmosphere has not been great at Anfield recently because the performances have not been that great.

“But a lot of supporters will be delighted with the outcome today. I am sure that will give us a feel-good factor and we hope that will help us.”

Carragher insists there is still time for Liverpool to improve on their dismal start and said: “There have been disappointing starts for both sides [Everton and Liverpool].

"Both of us would have looked to be near the top before the season started.

“Both sides would have hoped to be challenging for the top four. But it is still early and maybe three points this weekend will give us the springboard we need.”