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Page last updated at 21:30 GMT, Wednesday, 13 October 2010 22:30 UK

Liverpool confident over takeover

Liverpool want to complete a sale to rid them of their debts

Liverpool chief executive Christian Purslow is confident the proposed sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures (NESV) will go ahead.

The £300m takeover would wipe out the club's debt, ending the possibility that parent company Kop Holdings could be placed in administration.

Purslow told BBC Radio 5 live: "I'm completely focused on making sure the sale completes.

"I'm not contemplating administration and nobody should be."

Liverpool co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are set to oppose the sale of the club in the High Court because they value the Anfield outfit at double NESV's bid.

Proceedings are likely to take place on Tuesday with the American pair's Kop Holdings company owing £280m to Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) which must be paid by 15 October.

As the court date nears, the experienced barrister Lord Grabiner QC has been working with Liverpool's solicitors, Slaughter and May, with a settlement before then understood to be unlikely.

If Hicks and Gillett - who are outvoted on the club's board - are successful in blocking the proposed sale, or if it is delayed beyond next Friday, RBS might place Kop Holdings into administration to release the money owed to them.

Because the club is the only asset of Kop Holdings, the Premier League would then be likely to deduct nine points from the Merseysiders.

That would leave the Reds, who are already in the relegation zone after a dismal start to the season, on minus three points and bottom of the table.

It has been suggested that a deduction could dissuade NESV from going through with their plan to buy the club - and a source from the group told BBC sports news correspondent Dan Roan the penalty could be "a deal breaker".

"It seems like there was a genuine change of position on their behalf over the weekend," he added. "NESV briefed us over the weekend that they were very unhappy with the Premier League's u-turn.

"West Ham didn't take a nine-point hit when their holding company was put into administration and this prospect seems to have spooked NESV. Maybe it is bargaining and they want a discount.

"If they do walk away it will be a disaster for Liverpool as they were seen as the bright hope."

BBC Sport has also learned that if the deal with the Americans falls through, then the Asian consortium that has also tabled a bid for Liverpool could decide to proceed with an attempt to buy the Reds.

However, Purslow insisted the prospect of administration has not been discussed with NESV, who own American baseball team the Boston Red Sox, and that all efforts were focused entirely on concluding the deal.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek programme he added: "Last Monday we had two very good offers to buy our business that would clear all our debts.

"NESV approached us. They met our chairman [Martin Broughton]. He was immediately struck with their seriousness and the entire senior management team of NESV came to Liverpool.

"They spent a large amount of time in the club doing their work and those are important signs of people's seriousness in the transaction business."

Hicks and Gillett borrowed money from RBS to complete their purchase of Liverpool in 2007 - a fact that has long angered Liverpool's fans and something Purslow says he is also uncomfortable with.

"My total priority has been to try to remove the debt which has been put on this club and which has been a cloud since February 2007," Purslow insisted.

"It is wrong that we should have so much of the money that comes through the turnstiles or through our commercial activity go to pay interest on loans.

"A bidder who has been willing, with cash, to rid of us of all this long-term debt is by far the largest and most important priority in evaluating bids.


"We have done our homework and NESV are buying this business with cash and clearing our debt which transforms our financial position overnight."

Purslow urged Hicks and Gillett to call off their High Court action and to walk away from Anfield for the good of the club.

The Reds chief executive stated: "Right now they do have an opportunity with one simple short correspondence today to allow a sale to complete and that would clear the club of all the acquisition debt and give us a massive lift before the Everton game [next Sunday].

"A fresh start and real hope for our fans and players that we can get back to the top - that's in their gift and would enable them to leave with some dignity and some peace rather than precipitating a messy dispute. I hope they'll think about that."

There has also been uncertainty regarding the future of manager Roy Hodgson, whose contract reportedly contains an exit clause to allow new owners to bring in their own man.

But Purslow added Hodgson would "absolutely" remain part of the set-up at Liverpool if the takeover is completed.

"There is nothing in Roy's contract which is not totally standard under the LMA [League Managers' Association] guidelines," he commented.

Additionally, Purslow had words of encouragement for Liverpool fans, who have protested vociferously against the current owners and are expected to make the journey to London to voice their protest over the duo's ownership of the club at the court case.

"Our fans have felt totally disenfranchised by the experience of the last three years. One thing I really liked about NESV is they are really serious about the importance of engaging with their fans," continued Purslow.

"I've asked them to consider a scheme at our club that will give our fans a real sense of ownership, a real sense of inclusion, the kind of voice they deserve and NESV have told us they'll look at this very seriously if they complete."

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see also
League approves Anfield takeover
08 Oct 10 |  Liverpool
Hicks set to fight Liverpool sale
07 Oct 10 |  Liverpool
Liverpool 'to shed debts' in deal
06 Oct 10 |  Liverpool
Red Sox owners to buy Liverpool
06 Oct 10 |  Liverpool
Hodgson named new Liverpool boss
01 Jul 10 |  Liverpool

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