LIVERPOOL’S PROSPECTIVE NEW owners have said they will clear the club’s debts if their takeover is successfully completed, as the battle for the football club heads to the high court in London.
New England Sports Ventures, the owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, emerged yesterday as the winning bidders for Liverpool after their £300m bid was accepted by the board.
Led by US millionaire John W. Henry, the group of 17 investors intend to clear Liverpool’s £200m debt to Royal Bank of Scotland as well as £100m worth of other money owed. This should drastically reduce interest payments and overall put the club on a much more stable financial footing.
In a statement NESV said:
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. Since 2001, New England Sports Ventures has made successful investments in sports and entertainment properties.
Our portfolio of companies – including the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park, New England Sports Network, Fenway Sports Group and Roush Fenway Racing – are all committed to one common goal: winning.NESV wants to help bring back the culture of winning to Liverpool FC.
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.
However, current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are attempting to block the move as they look set to lose £140m on the investment made three years ago. Their tenure at Anfield has been fraught with difficulties with key players sold, a popular manager removed, and a massive backlash from fans.
They have now tried to replace Liverpool’s managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre with Hicks’ son Mack and a business associate, Lori Kay McCutcheon in a last ditch attempt to hold power at Anfield.
Chairman Martin Broughton has said that the current owners agreed that he, as chairman, would have the sole right to appoint and remove directors and agreed with RBS not to obstruct “reasonable endeavours” to agree a sale. The court action is to seek approval from a judge for the sale.
Quoted in The Guardian, Broughton said:
We will be seeking a declaratory judgment to say we acted within our rights. George and Tom had recognised the only way of moving forward was selling the entire club, and that if they alone said that is what they were going to do it would not have any credibility because they no longer had any credibility.
It’s emerged that current manager Roy Hodgson will be given time to turn the team’s fortunes around with Liverpool currently in the relegation zone of the Premier League. Hodgson has welcomed the news of a takeover, telling liverpoolfc.tv:
It’s very positive and of course I’m delighted. It’s been going on a long time and I know how hard the Board have worked to set things up. I know it’s not easy for them because the owners have other ideas in terms of the sale of the club and what is achievable. But I was delighted to hear the news and have it confirmed that it looks like it is going to go through.
Yesterday’s announcement was somewhat surprising given there had been little, if any news, of any takeover of Liverpool FC in recent weeks.
It has been reported in today’s Daily Telegraph that Broughton and Purslow have been working on the deal for several weeks after being introduced to NESV by Inner Circle Sports. Intriguingly, they are the New York-based agents who brought Hicks and Gillett to the table three years ago.