Broughton expects Liverpool deal in a week

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The Independent Online

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton is confident the club will win their legal battle against owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to allow the sale of the club to go ahead.

Although a £300million deal to sell to New England Sports Ventures, the owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, was announced this morning, Hicks and Gillett are opposed to the plan and will challenge the board's authority to push it through.

That means the issue will have to go to court but Broughton, who was brought in to oversee the sale process in April and alongside managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre outvoted the Americans three-to-two in support of the sale to NESV, is optimistic of success.

"The key thing is the court case," he said.

"We need to go to the court to get a declaratory judgement, which is for the court to declare that we did act validly in completing the sale agreement, and then the buyers can complete the sale.

"We have to get Premier League approval and I'm certain that's not going to be an issue. There are one or two minor things like that but the key issue is the court, which should meet I would think next week sometime. That is the most likely time, in short order. There is an appeal process but that is also very fast.

"If they (Hicks and Gillett) win the court case they can block the sale but then we may have one or two other thoughts in mind as well.

"I am confident. I wouldn't have taken the board through that process yesterday if I hadn't been confident.

"I wouldn't have exposed everybody to that risk if I hadn't been confident, but you can never be certain. These things are legal judgements. We have been properly advised and I am confident."

Broughton claimed the American owners were going back on pledges they made earlier in the year, when major creditor Royal Bank of Scotland extended their finance arrangement until next week.

Changes at board level, one of which was Broughton's appointment, were put in place to ensure Hicks and Gillett could not veto a sale as they no longer had a majority vote or held the power in the boardroom.

So Broughton was annoyed yesterday when the owners attempted to remove Purslow and Ayre and replace them with allies from family and business.

"The owners felt we were reviewing two bids which they considered undervalued the club and therefore they wished to remove Christian and Ian and replace them with Mack Hicks, who is Tom's son, and Lori McCutcheon, who also works with him," said the chairman.

"We don't think it was valid to do it. Essentially when I took the role they gave a couple of written undertakings to Royal Bank of Scotland.

"Those written undertakings included that I was the only person entitled to change the board and that was written into the articles of the covenants, and also that they would take no action to frustrate any reasonable sale.

"I think they flagrantly abused both of those written undertakings."

Broughton is disappointed in Hicks and Gillett's conduct, although his suggestion that this was their chance to leave Anfield with a modicum of decorum is unlikely to be supported by fans, many of whom view the pair as hate figures.

"This was frankly their last chance to leave Liverpool with their heads high and they have chosen to go this route," Broughton told Sky Sports News.

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