Outraged Hicks attacks 'epic swindle' and 'conspiracy'

Tom Hicks has dropped a $1.6bn claim for damages over the sale of the club but has said he will return to fight in the British courts.

Hicks last night claimed that Liverpool executive chairman Martin Broughton "wanted a good PR event in his life and to be seen as the guy that got rid of those Americans." He blamed former manager Rafael Benitez for Liverpool's financial implosion. "Rafa has to take accountability for his own results. There were people I thought were our friends, people I thought were loyal, and I was wrong."

Hicks will personally sue Liverpool's directors in the English courts and also Royal Bank of Scotland, claiming the bank refused to allow him to repay Liverpool's debts to prevent the sale. The club itself is protected from any action. "This has been an organised conspiracy over many months," he added. "It's hurt my family tremendously. This is a very valuable asset that was swindled away from me in an epic swindle. I'm very angry about it."

Broughton did not initially tell any of his fellow board members about some of the deals he was working on to sell the club, as he tried desperately to prevent publicity killing them off. It is understood a Chinese state-owned enterprise was among one of the prospective buyers but was frightened off by publicity. There was never a Roman Abramovich-style super-rich bidder, however there was contact from one individual representing an English bidder.

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