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Liverpool ownership hearing scheduled for tomorrow morning

‘Royal Bank of Scotland PLC v Hicks & others’, to be heard tomorrow, will decide whether the club will be sold.

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton (left) is seeking to stop co-owner Tom Hicks from replacing CEO Christian Purslow (right) on the Board of Directors, and force through the sale of the club.
Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton (left) is seeking to stop co-owner Tom Hicks from replacing CEO Christian Purslow (right) on the Board of Directors, and force through the sale of the club.
Image: Tim Hales/AP

BRITAIN’S HIGH COURT has confirmed it will hear rule on the dispute over the board of directors of Liverpool Football Club tomorrow morning.

The case – “Royal Bank of Scotland plc v Hicks & ors” – has been brought forward in the court’s legal diary, in an attempt to clear up some of the confusion clouding the club’s proposed takeover by New England Sports Ventures (NESV) as quickly as possible.

It is considered vital that the row over the club’s ownership is resolved before Friday, when its £237m (€271m) loan from the Royal Bank of Scotland expires. The club owes another £45m (€51m) to the American bank, Wachovia.

If the club’s ownership issues are not resolved by that date, the club will be repossessed by RBS – a move that will likely see the club hit with a nine-point penalty in the Premier League, and which will see NESV withdraw its £300m offer to buy the club.

The proposed sale is being opposed by current co-owner Tom Hicks, who is unwilling to see the club sold at a price well below his own £800m valuation. The £300m offer would see both Hicks and his co-investor George Gillett lose £72m each.

The case has been brought by RBS and the club chairman Martin Broughton – who was appointed specifically to oversee the sale of the club – who insists he was given sole authority to change the personnel of the five-man board when appointed.

Hicks rejects this claim, and wishes to replace two members of the five – commercial director Ian Ayres and CEO Christian Purslow, both of whom voted along with Broughton to sanction the sale – with his own nominees, who would vote along with himself and Gillett to block it.

If RBS wins, it is unlikely to proceed with administration before Friday’s deadline – even if the verdict is appealed – and will almost certainly oversee an orderly sale to NESV, whose investment in the club would clear its debt entirely.

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Gavan Reilly

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