Liverpool board accepts Boston Red Sox owners` bid

Last Updated: Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 22:36

London: Liverpool`s board of directors agreed to sell the English football giants to the owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, despite fierce opposition from the club`s current American owners.

The deal with New England Sports Ventures (NESV) is subject to approval by the Premier League and a legal battle with US owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who bought the club three years ago and tried to scupper the latest sale.

"I am delighted that we have been able to successfully conclude the sale process which has been thorough and extensive," Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton said.

The Premier League said it was ready to give its approval by Friday in order to allow the sale to proceed.

NESV promised to clear the club`s debts when they take over "to create a long-term financially solid foundation" in a deal believed to be worth 300 million pounds (475 million dollars).

The group said it was "dedicated to ensuring that the club has the resources to build for the future, including the removal of all acquisition debt".

"Our objective is to stabilise the club and ultimately return Liverpool FC to its rightful place in English and European football, successfully competing for and winning trophies," it added in a statement.
NESV, headed by John William Henry II and Tom Werner, also pointed to its success in transforming the fortunes of the Red Sox, who have won two World Series since their takeover of the club in 2002.

If confirmed, the deal would signal the end of Hicks and Gillett`s turbulent three-year ownership of Liverpool, which remains the most successful club in the history of English football.

The American owners have been the subject of fierce protests from Liverpool fans, who have blamed them for a steady decline in the club`s fortunes on the field and failure to deliver on a promised new stadium.

Around 7,000 supporters demonstrated on Sunday before the club suffered a shock home defeat to Blackpool, a new humiliation which sent Liverpool into the relegation zone and confirmed their worst start to a season for 57 years.

New manager Roy Hodgson has had limited funds available to rebuild a squad which failed to qualify for the Champions League last season, another embarrassing blow for the five-time European champions.
Hicks and Gillett were under pressure to sell with an October 15 deadline looming for repayment of the club`s 282-million-pound debts with the Royal Bank of Scotland and US holding company Wachovia.

Liverpool were put up for sale by the unpopular US duo in April, who initially sought an asking price of around 800 million pounds, before dropping it to 600 million pounds.

On Tuesday, the pair attempted to remove two senior figures - managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre - from the club`s board of directors, before a meeting to review two offers, one from NESV and the other reportedly from Asia.

Hicks wanted to replace them with his son, Mack Hicks, and a close associate.

Broughton hit out at Hicks and Gillett, saying: "I am only disappointed that the owners have tried everything to prevent the deal from happening and that we need to go through legal proceedings in order to complete the sale."

Broughton was appointed as independent chairman as part of the sale process in April, meaning Gillett and Hicks no longer had a majority vote and could not prevent any sale that the board viewed as being in the club`s best interests.

News of a deal was welcomed by Liverpool`s vice-captain Jamie Carragher.

"Everyone knows it`ll be a good thing for the club," the veteran defender said.

"Hopefully it will be sorted sooner rather than later and we can start looking forward on the pitch and start improving results, which is what we need to do."

Bureau Report



First Published: Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 22:36

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