Liverpool was sold to the owners of the Boston Red Sox on Friday after a bitter trans-Atlantic court fight over the storied English club with the previous American owners.
The $476 million deal with New England Sports Ventures ends the turbulent three-year ownership by Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. The sale finally went through after Hicks and Gillett withdrew the temporary restraining order blocking the sale they had obtained in a Texas court. But they intend to pursue a claim for $1.6 billion in damages.
The deal came on the day set as the deadline for repayment of the club’s debts to the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wells Fargo, which have risen to more than $456 million. “We are committed first and foremost to winning,” said John Henry, the financier who heads NESV. “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.” Amid the takeover turmoil, Liverpool is mired in the relegation zone after its worst start to a league season since 1953. “As every Liverpool fan knows, the most nerve-racking way to win a match is by a penalty shootout,” club chairman Martin Broughton said. “But in the end, as long as you get the right result, it’s worth the wait. We’ve got the right result.”
Broughton said the deal “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.” Attorneys for Hicks and Gillett called the sale of the 18-time English champions an “extraordinary swindle.” “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,” said Steve Stodghill, the Texas attorney representing Hicks and Gillett. “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. My clients worked tirelessly to resolve these issues but RBS would not listen to any reasonable solution and the directors acted selfishly and illegally.” The statement said Hicks and Gillett would apply “all of their legal energies” toward securing $1.6 billion in damages..6 billion in damages. (AP)