Liverpool ruling good news for fans says expert

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The Independent Football

A top football finance expert believes the High Court ruling in favour of the sale of Liverpool is good news for long-suffering fans of the club.

The High Court in London today granted injunctions that could pave the way for the prompt sale of the club and Mark Hovell, of George Davies Solicitors, believes the ruling has almost certainly prevented the club from the spectre of administration.

"This is good news for the fans - if the decision had gone the other way it could have resulted in the bank looking at other remedies such as placing the holding company into administration," said Hovell.

"Under the Premier League regulations that would have resulted in a nine-point point deduction."

Liverpool's owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, had asked a judge to delay the hearing of an application by creditors Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) for mandatory orders paving the way for the sale of the club.

But the plea was rejected by Mr Justice Floyd and at RBS's request, he imposed injunctions on the owners that required them to restore the original constitutions of the companies and managing directors.

That removed the final stumbling block to a £300million takeover by New England Sports Ventures (NESV), owners of the Boston Red Sox.

The sale would see the RBS recoup its original £237million loan to Hicks and Gillett when they bought the club in March 2007.

The Americans had argued the English members of the board - Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre - did not act in the best interests of the club.

Hicks tried to block the NESV deal last week by removing Purslow and Ayre and installing his son Mack Hicks and business associate Lori McCutcheon.

However, such a move was in breach of agreements the Americans signed up to with the bank when the club was put on the market in April, one of which gave Broughton sole control over board changes.

The NESV deal would leave Hicks and Gillett facing a £144million loss and they argued a bigger £320million offer plus £40million for player spending from Singapore businessman Peter Lim and one from Mill Financial, who promised £100million towards a new stadium, represented better options.

But Hovell says that while the board could enter into negotiations with other bidders, it is likely that a deal with NESV had already been rubber-stamped, subject to the court ruling.

Hovell, who advises players' associations and their members and has been involved in over 50 football club insolvencies, added: "The ruling does empower the board to proceed with the deal.

"Presumably they could still deal with other offers, but may have entered into an exclusive deal with NESV, subject only to the court ruling."

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