Hicks and Gillett lose High Court battle

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The Independent Football

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton is convinced the club now has "a great future" following a momentous day in the High Court.

Mr Justice Floyd rejected a plea from owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to delay the hearing of an application by creditors Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) for mandatory orders paving the way for a possible sale this week.

In an overwhelming victory for RBS and Liverpool, the American duo were also refused the right to appeal, suggesting the club could be under new ownership before the weekend.

Broughton now has permission to sell Liverpool without interference from Hicks and Gillett, with the fight a straight one between New England Sports Ventures (NESV) and Singapore billionaire Peter Lim.

NESV are the preferred bidder with a £300million offer, however, Lim yesterday threw a spanner in the works by improving his bid to £320million and offering £40million for new players.

Speaking outside the High Court to Sky Sports News, Broughton said: "The board will be properly reconstituted by eight o'clock this evening, that was the judge's order, and proceed with the sale process.

"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."

Hailing Mr Justice Floyd's verdict as "an excellent outcome", there was no disguising Broughton's disdain at the actions of Hicks and Gillett.

Hicks last week attempted to block the deal by NESV, who own Major League Baseball side Boston Red Sox, by removing managing director Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre from the board of Liverpool Football Club.

Hicks then installed his son Mack and a business associate, Lori McCutcheon, in order to control board voting ahead of a meeting to decide on which bid to accept for the sale of the club.

However, this was in breach of agreements the Americans signed with RBS when the bank extended its credit facilities.

The RBS loan, which amounts to £237million, ends on Friday, with the bank applying to the court for an injunction to allow the sale to go ahead in order to recoup its money.

Asked for his opinion of Hicks and Gillett, Broughton, appointed in April to oversee the club's sale, added: "I'm disappointed they've acted in this way to try and breach the undertakings they gave me.

"Up until then they'd supported the process."

Pressed as to whether he would be glad to see the back of the duo, Broughton further remarked: "I will be very pleased when the process is completed.

"We came in to carry out a sale process, we said we would get the right owners, and when we've got the right owners the process will be complete. That's very good.

"The last few days have obviously been anxious, but we've been confident all along, although when you go to court you can never prejudge the outcome.

"But we think we've done the right thing."

Accompanying Broughton, Purslow said: "It's a very, very important day for our club. I'm elated. We came for justice and we got justice."

Posting a message on his Twitter page, NESV owner John W Henry also expressed his delight at the outcome.

"Well done Martin, Christian & Ian. Well done RBS. Well done supporters," exclaimed Henry.

Paul Girolami, lawyer for Hicks and Gillett, offered no comment, while a leading sports lawyer, Andrew Nixon, said it was "the end of the road for them".

A statement on Liverpool's website underlined the club's position as it read: "We are delighted 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 tonight. A further statement will be made in due course."

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