The Liverpool FC ownership saga has taken a bitter twist after its American co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett acquired a court injunction blocking the club’s proposed sale.
Earlier today Hicks and George Gillett lost a High Court battle to prevent Liverpool FC being sold to New England Sports Ventures, the owners of Boston Red Sox, for £300 million.
But Hicks and Gillett have since obtained a temporary restraining order from a Texan court which they claim will, for the time being, prevent the deal going through.
However, Liverpool’s board of directors have hit back at the American’s move, which they believe is “unwarranted and damaging.”
In a statement Texan Hicks labelled the deal as an ‘epic swindle’ and filed a £1 billion lawsuit against Liverpool FC, board members Martin Broughton, Christian Purslow, Philip Nash and Ian Ayre, Royal Bank of Scotland and NESV.
The pair claim the £300 million agreed deal is considerably lower than the £500 million they believe Liverpool is worth.
The statement reads: “The owners of Liverpool Football Club today reported that a Texas State District Court has granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining the Board of Liverpool Football Club (LFC) from executing a sale of the Club to New England Sports Ventures (NESV). The court set a hearing date of October 25, 2010.
“The TRO request, signed by Judge Jim Jordan of the 160th District Court in Dallas, was part of a lawsuit filed today by the owners of LFC against Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Martin Broughton, Christian Purslow, Ian Ayre, NESV and Philip Nash. The lawsuit also seeks temporary and permanent injunctions, and damages totaling approximately $1.6 billion (over £1 billion).
“The suit lays out the defendants’ “epic swindle” in which they conspired to devise and execute a scheme to sell LFC to NESV at a price they know to be hundreds of millions of dollars below true market value (and well below Forbes magazine’s recent independent $822 million valuation of the club) – and below multiple expressions of interest and offers to buy either the club in its entirety or make minority investments (including Meriton and Mill Financial).
Liverpool still plan to go ahead with the sale to NESV with the man behind the bid, John Henry, in London having talks to complete the deal.
A statement on club’s website says: “Regretably, Thomas Hicks and George Gillett have tonight obtained a Temporary Restraining Order from a Texas District Court against the independent directors, Royal Bank of Scotland PLC and NESV to prevent the transaction being completed.
“The independent directors consider the restraining order to be unwarranted and damaging and will move as swiftly as possible to seek to have it removed.”
The Texan court doesn’t have any direct jurisdiction in the UK, but according to BBC business editor Robert Peston, “both New England Sports Ventures and Liverpool’s bankers, Royal Bank of Scotland, would not wish to be seen to be wilfully defying that court” with both parties having large operations in the USA.
RBS and NEPV will both try and get the restraining order lifted this morning which would allow the deal to be finalised within a few hours.
The initial High Court decision had been met with delight from fans and players and associates of Liverpool FC as they prepare to face Everton in Sunday’s Merseyside derby.
Captain Steven Gerrard told the club’s website: “It’s a fantastic result and credit needs to go to Christian, Ian and the Chairman who have worked so hard on this.
“It seems things are nearly sorted off the pitch so we need to start getting them right on it by getting three points at Goodison on Sunday.”