Court clears way for Liverpool FC sale

London: Liverpool owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks lost a legal bid to block the sale of the club on Wednesday, clearing the way for a takeover of the English football giants.

London`s High Court granted injunctions brought by the club`s major creditors, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which had been attempting to remove the final obstacles to a sale of the club.

Lawyers for Gillett and Hicks had on Tuesday argued for more time to find a better offer than the 300-million-pound bid tabled by US-based New England Sports Ventures (NESV), the owners of the Boston Red Sox.

Hicks and Gillett, who took over the club in 2007, claimed that the English members of Liverpool`s board led by chairman Martin Broughton had not acted in the best interests of the club by accepting the NESV offer.

Hicks last week tried to sack two members of the Liverpool board who supported the deal and attempted to replaced them with his son Mack Hicks and another business associate.

owever lawyers for RBS claimed the move was a breach of terms agreed to by Hicks and Gillett when the club was put up for sale earlier this year, when Broughton was given sole authority to alter the make-up of the board.

Lawyer Richard Snowden said Hicks` actions were an attempt "to frustrate the sale necessary to repay the bank," saying evidence filed to the court showed "breathtaking arrogance on the part of Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett."

Wednesday`s ruling allows RBS to recover their 237 million pound (376 million US dollars) loan, which Hicks and Gillett had been required to pay back by October 15.

However the NESV sale will leave Hicks and Gillett an estimated 144 million pounds (228 million US) out of pocket.

On Monday Singapore businessman Peter Lim made an improved offer of 320 million pounds (507 million US) plus 40 million pounds (63.4 million US) for investment on players.

The judgement could signal the end of Hicks and Gillett`s turbulent three-year ownership of Liverpool, a proud sporting institution which remains the most successful club in the history of English football.

Liverpool were put up for sale by the unpopular duo in April, who initially sought an asking price of around 800 million pounds (1.27 billion US), a figure that they subsequently dropped to 600 million (951 million US).

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

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

Bureau Report