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Page last updated at 20:32 GMT, Thursday, 14 October 2010 21:32 UK

High Court rejects attempts to block sale of Liverpool

Tom Hicks (left) and George Gillett
The judge said Hicks and Gillett's behaviour was "unconscionable".

Liverpool's American owners suffered a further setback after a High Court judge ruled their injunction to block the sale of the club was ineffective.

The ruling paves the way for the club to be sold to New England Sports Ventures (NESV) for £300m, with an agreed deal likely on Friday.

On Wednesday, Reds owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett took out an injunction in Texas to block any proposed sale.

But Mr Justice Floyd said that ruling had no validity in England.

Despite the second High Court ruling in as many days, Hicks and Gillett sought to extend the saga by requesting a further hearing in Texas on Thursday.

18 League titles
5 European Cups
7 FA Cups
7 League Cups
3 Uefa Cups
Turnover: £159.1m (2008)
TV revenue £74.5m (08-09)
Debt: £280m
Club valued at £300m-600m

That court case has now been adjourned until 1300 BST (0700 local time) on Friday.

NESV, owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, also plan to make their own submission to the Dallas court to overturn the injunction obtained by Hicks and Gillett.

Mr Justice Floyd has given the much-criticised owners until 1600 BST on Friday to withdraw their legal action in America, or face charges of contempt of court.

That deadline would allow the sale of the club to go through, which is essential if the club are to avoid defaulting on the repayment of £240m of loans due to Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) on Friday.

If that payment is not made, the club could be placed into administration and suffer a nine-point penalty.

During the afternoon's hearing, David Chivers QC, representing NESV, said his clients already considered themselves to be Liverpool's new owners.

And the head of NESV, John W Henry, was later seen entering the London offices of Liverpool's solicitors Slaughter and May for a meeting with the board.

Liverpool had been planning a media day to officially unveil Henry as the club's new owner on Friday, until Wednesday night's surprise injunction ended the plan.

But Reds chairman Martin Broughton said he hoped a deal could be sorted out before Sunday's Merseyside derby against Everton at Goodison Park.

"We're nearly there. We've still got to take away the restraining order," said Broughton.

"Mr Henry is very committed. My guess is we'll have it done and he'll be there but we've got to get rid of this order first."

BBC Sport's Brian Alexander understands Henry's group is not the only interested party, with Mill Financial still "very much part of the mix" and "waiting to dive in if a deal with NESV does fall through".

Following the judgement, a statement issued on behalf of the Liverpool board said they were "delighted with the verdict of Mr Justice Floyd in the High Court".

It continued: "We are glad to have taken another important step towards completing the sale process."

The latest development of a story which has swung ferociously between London and Dallas, comes after Hicks and Gillett's reign at Anfield had looked close to ending on Wednesday.


Their attempt to block the proposed sale of the club to NESV, sanctioned by independent directors including Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre, was dismissed by the High Court.

But that ruling led the American owners to take out a temporary restraining order in a Texas court, halting any planned sale.

Hicks and Gillett's petition to the Texas court described the sale of Liverpool as an "epic swindle", and also laid out a claim for more than £1bn in damages.

And it was RBS which received the brunt of blame from the American duo, as the petition continued: "The director defendants were acting merely as pawns of RBS, wholly abdicating the fiduciary responsibilities that they owed in the sale.

"RBS has been complicit in this scheme with the director defendants."

Richard Snowden QC, representing RBS, said Hicks and Gillett's behaviour was "outrageous" and the proceedings in Texas were "plainly inappropriate.

"This dispute involves an English football club and three English companies and has no connection with Texas other than that Hicks and Gillett may reside there.

"It is a plain attempt to frustrate and impede the proceedings."

On Thursday, Mr Justice Floyd came down in favour of the club again by granting an anti-suit injunction and criticising Hicks and Gillett's conduct, calling it "unconscionable".

One aspect of the whole saga was made simpler when Singaporean businessman, Peter Lim, withdrew his £320m bid.

Lim stated: "The [Liverpool] board is intent on selling the club to NESV to the exclusion of all other parties, regardless of the merits of their bids."

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see also
Reds sale 'blocked by injunction'
13 Oct 10 |  Liverpool
Liverpool FC gets new 320m offer
12 Oct 10 |  Business
Liverpool confident over takeover
13 Oct 10 |  Liverpool
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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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES Reds owner Henry: Hard work starts now - 2 hrs ago Bitter Liverpool legal battle returns to Texas court - 2 hrs ago
Asiaone Liverpool ownership fight heads for Texas court - 4 hrs ago
Telegraph Henry vows to keep fighting for Liverpool - 5 hrs ago


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