London: The battle for ownership of Liverpool intensified as a second bidder emerged while the club were arguing in a London court room that they should be able to sell for an already agreed but lower price.
American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are trying to block the club's sale after the board agreed a 300 million-pound deal with New England Sports Ventures (NESV), owner of the Boston Red Sox, against their will.
Inside a packed court room dotted with Liverpool fans straining to hear the quietly-spoken judge, lawyers for the current owners admitted they had breached their contracts with major creditor Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) when they tried to sack board members in a final bid to keep control of the club.
They said Hicks and Gillett were forced to do this because those board members had failed to consult them properly and to consider alternative offers for the club.
The Americans' lawyers also argued in court that there were alternatives for RBS other than putting the club into administration.
While events unfolded inside the court room, Singapore billionaire Peter Lim threw his hat into the ring with an increased cash bid for the club of 320 million pounds.
The case, which is being watched intensely by Liverpool fans, some of whom were singing in protest against Hicks and Gillett outside the High Court, will also go a long way to determining whether the club goes into administration and faces a nine-point deduction.
Hicks and Gillett had tried to dismiss two members of the board and replace them with their own people ahead of the NESV agreement in a bid to scupper the plan, which they said was not in the best interests of the Premier League club.
RBS lawyers argued that Hicks and Gillett had shown "breath- taking arrogance" by trying to change the board.
The bank, majority owned by the UK tax payer, is contesting the case against the owners because it had ruled that only chairman Martin Broughton could make changes to the board.
That was required by RBS to prevent the two Americans from blocking any sale. Tuesday's case is examining whether Broughton had the authority to agree the deal with NESV.
The situation was further complicated when Singapore billionaire Lim increased his bid for one of the world's most famous clubs to 320 million pounds.
Lim, who made a fortune through stockbroking and is Singapore's eighth richest man, said in a statement that he would make a further 40 million pounds available for new players.
If the October 15 deadline for a refinancing of Liverpool's debt is missed, lawyers believe RBS could take control of the club and conduct the sale itself.
First Published: Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 00:13