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Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Friday, 8 October 2010 18:52 UK

Premier League approves NESV's Liverpool takeover

Anfield could soon have a new owner

By Dan Roan
BBC sports news correspondent

The Premier League has given the go-ahead for New England Sports Ventures's proposed takeover of Liverpool.

The group has offered £300m for the club but Reds co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett oppose the sale as they value Liverpool at double NESV's bid.

If the pair manage to block the deal in the High Court, their holding company could face administration, resulting in a nine-point deduction for the club.

The duo must pay major creditors Royal Bank of Scotland £280m by 15 October.

The Premier League statement read: "The Premier League has met with the owners and directors of New England Sports Ventures (NESV) regarding their proposed takeover of Liverpool FC and has received details, in accordance with Premier League rules, of the proposed company and ownership structure as well as the make-up of the new board."

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Americans Hicks and Gillett own Liverpool through their Kop Holdings vehicle and the club is its only real asset.

RBS is owed £240m in loans and £40m in fees and, if Hicks and Gillett manage to block the sale in the High Court next week, they would need to repay or refinance the debt to avoid administration.

Under the terms of the NESV deal that was agreed by the Liverpool board, the co-owners stand to lose about £140m.

Should Kop Holdings be placed in administration, the Premier League board, which comprises chief executive Richard Scudamore, chairman Sir Dave Richards and secretary Mike Foster, would then decide whether to dock points.

Premier League rules state the points penalty can be applied if a parent company insolvency is caused by the club's management.

Liverpool are already in the bottom three of the Premier League after a dismal start to the season, amassing only six points from their opening seven games.


An appeal is likely regardless of the High Court ruling, with no outcome likely before the 15 October refinancing deadline set by RBS.

RBS will have the choice to waive their demand for repayment until the legal dispute is finalised, or call in the debt and place the parent company into administration.

Portsmouth became the first Premier League club to enter administration on 26 February and automatically received a nine-point reduction, condemning them to relegation.

In a similar case, West Ham avoided a penalty when their holding company went into administration in 2009 - that is because the east London club was just one of several interests in the portfolio of Icelandic bank Straumur.

However, also in 2009, Southampton were docked 10 points by the Football League after their parent company Southampton Leisure Holdings went into administration, as a League investigation found they were "inextricably linked as one economic entity". That was a decision taken by the Football League rather than the Premier League.

With the Premier League meeting the owners and directors of NESV in the last couple of weeks, league bosses have confirmed that John W Henry and his board have passed recently changed the 'new owners' and directors' test.

However, BBC Sport understands that the Premier League has yet to see a business plan from NESV and is keen to avoid further embarrassment after a succession of takeovers at Portsmouth failed to solve their financial problems.

If for some reason a deal with NESV is scuppered, BBC Sport sources have learned that the Asian consortium that has also tabled a bid for the Merseysiders could then be in a position to proceed.

But there is no hint of concern over NESV's financial muscle.

The Premier statement continued: "The Premier League is satisfied, with the information provided, that the individuals NESV intend to put in place in the event they complete their takeover of Liverpool FC meet the criteria set out in our owners' and directors' test.

"The board of the Premier League will continue working with Liverpool FC in regard to this process, however, we are aware that the formal completion of this takeover is yet to be resolved and it is therefore inappropriate for us to offer any further comment at this time. "

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see also
Hicks set to fight Liverpool sale
07 Oct 10 |  Liverpool
Liverpool 'to shed debts' in deal
06 Oct 10 |  Liverpool
Who is Liverpool's new owner?
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When baseball meets football
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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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