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Liverpool owners drop restraining order

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-10-15

Liverpool football club's American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett have withdrawn a temporary restraining order that they had taken out to block a sale of the club worth 476 million dollars to owners of the Boston Red Sox.

AFP - Tom Hicks and George Gillett on Friday withdrew their temporary restraining order that had blocked a 476 million-dollar sale of Liverpool football club to owners of the Boston Red Sox.

But attorneys for Hicks and Gillett warned they will pursue legal avenues to securing 1.6 billion dollars in damages they expect will result from the sale to New England Sports Ventures (NESV), which owns American baseball's Red Sox.

Liverpool officials made the deal over the objections of owners Hicks and Gillett, who say the club is undervalued at the sales price.

But after the removal of the restraining order at an early morning hearing in Hicks's Texas home area, the deal is set and Liverpool will be able to pay off its debtors without taking the team into adminstration.

That threatened to cost Liverpool nine points in the English Premier League standings, possibly forcing the team to be relegated and scuttling the deal.

While the ownership saga appears to have reached the final whistle, the legal moves surrounding the 18-time English football champions are far from complete.

Hicks and Gillett will be going after money to recoup their losses in a legal fight that promises to drag on well into the reign of the new ownership.

"It’s an extraordinary swindle and it will result in exactly the wrong thing for the club and the fans," warned Steve Stodghill, the Texas lawyer representing Hicks and Gillett.

"This outcome not only devalues the club but it also will result in long-term uncertainty for the fans, players and everyone who loves this sport because all legal recourses will be pursued."

Royal Bank of Scotland, the club's lender, had set a Friday deadline to have the ownership situation settled or risk taking the club into financial insolvency.

Liverpool directors decided on the sale to NESV rather than stick with the first set of American owners, whose tenure had seen debts grow and this year's team suffer its worst start to a season since 1953.

"Mr. Hicks and Mr. Gillett pledged to pay the debt to RBS so that the Club could avoid administration that was threatened by RBS. That offer was rejected," Stodghill said.

"It is a tragic development that others will claim as a victory. This means it won’t be resolved the way it should be resolved.

"My clients worked tirelessly to resolve these issues but RBS would not listen to any reasonable solution and the directors acted selfishly and illegally."

Hicks and Gillett said they have no other recourse to recoup their losses than to cause even more future uncertainty for the Reds and their Merseyside supporters.

"Mr. Hicks and Mr. Gillett wanted to position this club for the future, but others have a different agenda," Stodghill said.

"In truth, there is nothing positive from these events for Liverpool Football. That is exactly the opposite of what my clients wanted to achieve."

Liverpool supporters have protested with signs saying, "Tom and George Not Welcome Here" and after various legal moves it was bizarrely in a Texas courtroom of all places that the Liverpool ownership saga reached its end.

Hicks and Gillett had fought through British legal channels before taking their case to Texas District Court Judge Jim Jordan, although the question of whether a Texas court had jurisdiction in the matter was not settled.

A Forbes magazine website posting Thursday said the purchase price was indeed too low, the magazine in April having valued Liverpool at 822 million dollars and saying that despite the debt load now that any sale for less than 675 million dollars was "dishonest from a valuation standpoint".
 

Date created : 2010-10-15

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