Liverpool’s ownership battle will return to the High Court on Thursday after the club’s owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, obtained a temporary injunction to prevent the sale of the club.
The High Court yesterday rejected an attempt by Hicks and Gillett to block the club’s directors decision to sell Liverpool to the owners of baseball’s Boston Red Sox.
The ruling cleared the way for the board to agree a £300 million takeover by John W Henry’s New England Sports Ventures (NESV).
But before the board could conclude the sale, Hicks secured a temporary restraining order from a Texas court and the case will head to the Royal Courts of Justice again in a bid to overturn that decision.
Hicks and Gillett claim that the English members of the club’s board – chairman Martin Broughton, Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre – have failed to act in the best interests of the club.
News of the injunction emerged as Liverpool’s directors were meeting with NESV chief Henry in London on Wednesday amid expectations a deal was imminent.
The lawsuit filed by Hicks and Gillett is against their major creditor, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), the three members of Liverpool’s board and NESV.
In the US court papers, Hicks and Gillett allege an “epic swindle” which would have sold the club at a price “hundreds of millions of dollars below true market value”.
They are also seeking punitive damages of around $1.6 billion dollars.
Hicks and Gillett have claimed that rival bids were not given consideration and it now appears that one of those bids – from Mill Financial – could emerge as a serious contender.
NESV’s deal seemed to be legally binding, but sources suggest that Mill Financial has
acquired Tom Hicks’ shares having already taken Gillett’s holding after he defaulted on a loan payment.
With the group also believed to have bought off Wells Fargo’s 25% debt stake, it could now be in pole position to force through a deal.