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Hicks set to fight Liverpool sale to NESV in High Court

Tom Hicks (left) and George Gillett
Hicks (right) and Gillett took over at Liverpool in February 2007

Tom Hicks has vowed to fight the £300m sale of Liverpool in the High Court.

The Reds board agreed the deal with New England Sports Ventures but co-owners Hicks and George Gillett claim to have sacked two directors to halt the sale.

However, club chairman Martin Broughton has stated the American duo do not have the power to alter the board's make-up.

Both parties are now set for a legal dispute after Hicks told BBC Radio 5 live's Brian Alexander he intended to pursue the matter through the courts.

The Liverpool board, consisting of Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre, outvoted Hicks and Gillett in agreeing the sale.

Liverpool commercial director Ian Ayre (left) and managing director Christian Purslow
Hicks claims Ayre (left) and Purslow were removed from the Reds board

However, in an effort to keep control of the Anfield side, Hicks and Gillett have claimed they have replaced Purslow and Ayre with Hicks' son Mack and Lori Kay McCutcheon, a vice president at Hicks Holdings - giving the co-owners a majority on the board and with it the ability to block any sale.

When asked about the takeover by Alexander, Hicks replied in a e-mail: "We legally reconstituted the board and the board does not approve of this transaction."

Then asked how he and Gillett could block the move, Hicks added: "We have removed Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre."

Hicks and Gillett believe that the deal with NESV, which owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team, undervalues the Merseyside outfit and, if it were to go through, would see them lose about £140m.

However, Broughton, who was brought in to oversee the sale of the club in April, insisted on Wednesday that he and the rest of the board have the authority to push through the deal.

Martin Broughton interview in full

"When I took the role they gave a couple of written undertakings to Royal Bank of Scotland - that I was the only person entitled to change the board and that they would take no action to frustrate any reasonable sale," stated Broughton.

"I think they flagrantly abused both of those written undertakings. I have the casting vote."

The issue is now likely to go to the High Court next week, while the Premier League also has to ratify the deal, though it is thought to be happy with NESV's proposed business plan.

If a ruling goes the way of Hicks and Gillett, the pair will have to negotiate the hurdle of the 15 October deadline set by Royal Bank of Scotland to repay £240m of loans and £40m of fees.

RBS could then place Liverpool into administration, with the possibility of selling the club to NESV remaining .

NESV has said it will remove "all acquisition debt" if it buys the club, prompting Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson to hail the arrival of a group that also owns American baseball team Boston Red Sox.

Dan Roan, BBC sports news

"It's very positive and of course I'm delighted," he told the Liverpool website. "It's been going on a long time and I know how hard the board have worked to set things up.

"I know it's not easy for them because the owners have other ideas in terms of the sale of the club and what is achievable.

"But I was delighted to hear the news and have it confirmed that it looks like it is going to go through."

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see also
Liverpool 'to shed debts' in deal
06 Oct 10 |  Liverpool
Who is Liverpool's new owner?
15 Oct 10 |  US & Canada
When baseball meets football
15 Oct 10 |  Liverpool
Red Sox owners to buy Liverpool
06 Oct 10 |  Liverpool
Reds owners' fight 'set to fail'
06 Oct 10 |  Liverpool
Liverpool owners dismay chairman
06 Oct 10 |  Business
Owners put Liverpool up for sale
16 Apr 10 |  Liverpool
Form not acceptable - Hodgson
03 Oct 10 |  Liverpool

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