Anfield soap switches to Dallas courtroom for next cliffhanger

Hicks and Gillett's final attempt to stay alive came in a document littered with spelling mistakes

It will hardly be a titanic battle of Southfork proportions but the final bout of the infernal domestic drama known as Liverpool Football Club will be staged in a Dallas court house today.

The British QCs who were upstaged late on Wednesday by a city judge's decision to grant Tom Hicks and George Gillett a temporary restraining order, forbidding a sale of the club, wreaked a revenge of sorts yesterday. The club's formidable barrister, Lord Grabiner, described Dallas as that "world-famous jurisdiction" to much laughter when the judge and all the legal teams – with Hicks' lawyers conspicuous by their absence – were hauled back to the High Court yesterday, in an attempt to render Judge James Jordan's ruling invalid.

But there was no getting away from the spoke that Hicks put in the wheels of progress which finally seemed to be moving when the businessman John W Henry swept up for a Liverpool board meeting on Wednesday night, thinking he would witness his coronation as the new proprietor at Anfield.

Judge Jordan, who was preparing to sign the restraining order as Henry got down to business, is not expected by lawyers in Texas to stand defiant in the face of the High Court's verdict that his order should be immediately overturned. Despite the abuse from Liverpool fans that has defaced his Facebook page since he signed off the order, he is a trial judge of 30 years' standing; a Democrat who sets great store by the international legal principle of comity – which states that a verdict granted under one legal jurisdiction must not be undermined in another. But another formal hearing does seem to be necessary for Judge Jordan to strike out the initial order. A few more hours of torture loom for Liverpool and Henry's New England Sports Ventures (NESV), whose £300m deal remains unsigned.

Judge Jordan may be wondering what he let himself in for when Hicks and Gillett rolled up at his courthouse to file their rushed request for the restraining order at noon, Dallas time, on Wednesday – seven hours after the High Court had effectively freed Liverpool's directors to sell up. It took two and half hours for him to pore over their case which, when typed up in its final format, was littered with spelling mistakes. Gillett appears as Gillette. Liverpool's commercial director, Ian Ayre, is "Ayer".

The judge's hand-written notes on the final restraining order illustrate his own unease at being unable to hear Liverpool's side of the story before granting it. The word "solely" is scribbled by him on the document 16 times, indicating that the complaints the pair make against the club are "based solely" on their own allegations. The one-eyed nature of the 29-page document is certainly breathtaking.

As The Independent revealed yesterday, this was a document the Liverpool chairman, Martin Broughton, received a mere five minutes before the board meeting convened to approve Liverpool's sale to NESV. By daybreak yesterday, Broughton and his advisers were still wondering whether Dallas really could upstage the Royal Courts of Justice and an early-morning blog by the BBC's Robert Peston also suggested that Hicks had secretly sold his shares to Mill Financial. Mill was thus in a position to pay off the club's £237m debts to Royal Bank of Scotland (due today) and gazump NESV. The gloom deepened. Even the name of Kenny Huang, the Chinese businessman whose putative move for Liverpool was one of the more colourful fleeting chapters in this whole astonishing saga, popped up in the Liverpool Echo, that paper's unproven suggestion being that Huang was the money man behind a company linked to Mill.

But Hicks' spokesman was on hand within hours to put that story to bed. Hicks had not sold to anyone, he said, and the course was set for yesterday's hearing. In court, Hicks' Texan double-hold gave Lord Grabiner the opportunity to deliver his most bombastic performance of the week. The QC declared it to be "preposterous" that Hicks and Gillett had gone to a legal jurisdiction in another country because they were not happy with Mr Justice Floyd's decision to order the reinstatement of the Liverpool board. Hicks and Gillett were probably "sitting and giggling" at their behaviour right now, he surmised. "They want a second bite of the cherry and if it wasn't so serious it would be a joke, grotesque parody, preposterous, unfair. They are just incorrigible."

The judge agreed, so it was back to Texas. A written form of yesterday's High Court judgement – compelling Hicks and Gillett to get that Dallas restraining order lifted by 4pm this afternoon or be in contempt of court – was physically delivered to Hicks' lawyers in London last night. Local lawyers expect another punishing session for the two outgoing Liverpool owners. "Once you've gone cap in hand for a restraining order you have to account for yourselves," said Thomas Kruse of the Baker & Hostetler legal firm. "A ruling from the High Court is one that the judge in Dallas would respect. If it sends a signal to say that the restraining order is inappropriate he would abide by that. We actually feel the judge acted blindly, without full facts, in the first place."

It may not be the most spellbinding Liverpool story, then, but the television satellite vans will be out in force and the circus will move to a new location where a significant episode in the soap opera will unfold. Does another cliffhanger await us? No one dare predict anything where Liverpool are concerned.

For Anfield, read Southfork

J R Ewing played by Tom Hicks

The big, brash, covetous Texan businessman with oil interests and Republican leanings. Driven by profit and profile, he can in turn be charming and persuasive, then cold, ruthless and full of vengeance.

Sue-Ellen played by George Gillett

Long-suffering partner who entered a marriage after a too-short courtship, then repented at length. Flirts with partner's rivals. Not always so self-assured; eccentric to some, batty as a bag of frogs to others.

Miss Ellie played by Martin Broughton

Quieter and more reflective than the rest of the cast, certainly, always preoccupied with trying to get JR and Bobby to get along. Full of homespun truths but not averse to using the courts when necessary.

Bobby Ewing played by Christian Purslow

The handsome good guy, an altruist who wanted to play fair but didn't always manage it. Should have got on with JR but didn't. Liable to leave the shower thinking: "Did I imagine the past year?"

Casting by Nick Harris

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine