Liverpool have confirmed that a takeover deal has been agreed with New England Sports Ventures (NESV), the owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, despite opposition from current Liverpool owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks.
The pair have had vowed to ‘resist any attempt to sell the club without due process or agreement’, and have not given their consent for a deal to be pushed through.
However, the club’s board has been able to put an agreement in place – although the sale is still conditional on Premier League approval, resolution of the dispute concerning board membership and other matters.
NESV, who own a portfolio of companies including the Boston Red Sox, New England Sports Network, Fenway Sports Group and Rousch Fenway Racing, emerged as the only bidder.
Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton told the club’s official website: “I am delighted that we have been able to successfully conclude the sale process which has been thorough and extensive.
“The board decided to accept NESV’s proposal on the basis that it best met the criteria we set out originally for a suitable new owner. NESV’s philosophy is all about winning and they have fully demonstrated that at Red Sox.
“We’ve met them in Boston, London and Liverpool over several weeks and I am immensely impressed with what they have achieved and with their vision for Liverpool Football Club.
“By removing the burden of acquisition debt, this offer allows us to focus on investment in the team.
“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.”
The boardroom battle between American owners Hicks and Gillett and their England-based colleagues escalated to a new level on Tuesday.
With news of two new bids having been received, the pair, led primarily by Hicks, tried to sack managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre from their positions on the board minutes before a meeting to discuss the new offers.
Hicks and Gillett wanted to instal Mack Hicks, one of Tom’s sons, and Lori Kay McCutcheon, financial controller at Hicks Holdings.
This was rebuffed as the two club officials, backed by chairman Broughton, out-voted the Americans three to two.
The club issued an unprecedented statement detailing the latest developments in which they also revealed this boardroom issue was now the subject of a legal review.
However, the statement pointedly went on to stress that Broughton, Purslow and Ayre would “continue to explore every possible route to achieving a sale of the club at the earliest opportunity”.
At the heart of the saga has been the October 15 deadline for the repayment or refinancing of £282 million of loans – owed principally to the Royal Bank of Scotland – that have been loaded onto the club by Hicks and Gillett.
Liverpool have cost potential new owners NESV a cut price £300 million – which will cover the RBS debt and cover the majority of Hicks and Gillett’s personal investment but would not return a profit to the duo.