Liverpool future heads for courtroom

The boardroom battle at Liverpool is set to be decided in court after owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett challenged the validity of the £300million sale to New England Sports Ventures after failing in a boardroom coup.

With two bids on the table the Americans yesterday attempted to wrest back control by trying to sack managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre.

They intended to replace them with Mack Hicks, Tom's son, and Lori McCutcheon, financial controller at Hicks Holdings, in order to reclaim the power to stop any sale minutes before a meeting was due to be held to discuss the deal.

Chairman Martin Broughton described it as an "astonishing move" but rejected the proposal after claiming they had "flagrantly abused" undertakings to major creditors Royal Bank of Scotland which outlined Broughton was the only man with the ability to change the composition of the board.

The club are pressing ahead with the sale to NESV, owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise, but the outcome will be decided by a legal hearing after a challenge from Hicks and Gillett.

"In trying to remove Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre they made an astonishing move," said Broughton, who was parachuted in to the Liverpool board when the Americans announced their intention to sell in April.

"I say that because, as part of my appointment, they gave specific undertakings to the Royal Bank of Scotland that said Martin Broughton was the only person authorised to make any board changes.

"They basically flagrantly abused those two undertakings to RBS and removed Christian and Ian from the board and sent us details just before the board meeting saying they had been removed and appointing two others.

"We took legal advice and I determined that the action was invalid. So I went back to Tom Hicks and George Gillett, reconvened the board meeting and said 'Look, your action is invalid.'

"I told them I was continuing to hold the meeting with Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre present. They objected, called for an adjournment - which I declined - and offered them the opportunity to take part.

"They chose not to, although George Gillett's lawyer was there."

Broughton said the club would now apply for a court judgement, which he hoped would come in the next week, to resolve the issue.

"No one likes being in court - someone comes out winning and someone comes out losing," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"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.

"If there is any justice we will win."

The Premier League said this afternoon they were ready to give the sale the go-ahead as early as Friday.

"The board of the Premier League has been kept fully informed of developments regarding the potential sale of Liverpool FC by the chairman and senior executives of the club and has, accordingly, been made aware of a number of potential prospective owners in recent weeks," said a statement.

"We can confirm that Liverpool FC has formally notified the Premier League of an intended change of control and that the board has undertaken to complete all the necessary processes by Friday, October 8 so that the sale of the club can proceed."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
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

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us