Liverpool have confirmed New England Sports Ventures have completed their takeover of the club.
The move comes after former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett removed the temporary restraining order blocking any sale on Friday morning.
However, Hicks and Gillett have refused to go away quietly and have announced they plan to sue for “at least $1.6billion” for what they call “an extraordinary swindle”.
Hicks, who believes the sale undervalues Liverpool, had been trying to sell his stake to Mill Financial, a USA-based hedge fund, so they could pay the club’s debt to the Royal Bank of Scotland and scupper the NESV takeover.
NESV’s takeover means the Royal Bank of Scotland will be paid the £237million they are owed and the threat of administration is avoided.
Liverpool’s board agreed to sell the club to NESV for £300million on Wednesday, but the deal was blocked as Hicks and Gillett opposed the deal.
A statement confirmed the purchase: ”New England Sports Ventures announces that it has completed the purchase of Liverpool Football Club. NESV wishes to extend its sincere gratitude to the Board of Liverpool FC for their diligence and their efforts on behalf of the Club and its supporters.
”The transaction values the Club at £300 million and eliminates all of the acquisition debt placed on LFC by its previous owners, reducing the Club’s debt servicing obligations from £25 million-£30 million a year to £2 million-£3 million. New England Sports Ventures is committed to winning and currently owns a portfolio of companies, including the Boston Red Sox, New England Sports Network, Fenway Sports Group and Roush Fenway Racing.”
John W Henry, the principal owner of NESV who was in London to seal the deal, added: “On behalf of the entire NESV partnership, I want to express how incredibly proud and humbled we are to be confirmed as the new owners of Liverpool FC. We regard our role as that of stewards for the Club with a primary focus on returning the Club to greatness on and off the field for the long-term. We are committed first and foremost to winning. We have a history of winning, and today we want LFC supporters to know that this approach is what we intend to bring to this great Club.”
NESV Chairman Thomas Werner, who has also been part of the negotiations, said: “We recognize that Liverpool Football Club is an historic institution ultimately grounded in the community and the fans. Our first step as new owners will be to listen. We want to hear from the Manager and the players and those who are part of the daily operation of the Club.
”We will be visible at Anfield and will embrace and listen to those who have stood by this Club and who are the rock on which its future success will be built. We want to hear from the fans, local leaders and the local community. We want to hear from those who know LFC best, who have made it the best and share our desire to return to a culture of winning.
”NESV is committed to creating a long-term, financially strong foundation for the Club and dedicated to ensuring the Club has the financial resources to be successful again and attract the best players. To that end, the transaction has been structured in such a way as to eliminate all of the acquisition debt on the Club.
”In the coming days and months, NESV will work closely with the LFC executive team to listen and learn about every facet of the organization. During this time, the new owners will begin to look at areas for greatest opportunity to increase the appeal of the Club nationally and internationally. NESV wants to once again create a culture and environment to allow people to excel at the Club on every front. During this period, NESV will also begin to examine opportunities to enhance the matchday experience in the short-term, while also carefully studying the various long-term options that may be possible.”
The sale to NESV ends Hick’s and Gillett’s ownership of the club after they gained control at Anfield in 2007. However, the pair intend to continue their fight for damages as compensation for the way in which the deal was pushed through against their wishes.
Steve Stodghill, the Texas lawyer representing Hicks and Gillett, added: “This outcome not only devalues the club but it also will result in long-term uncertainty for the fans, players and everyone who loves this sport because all legal recourses will be pursued.
“Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett pledged to pay the debt to RBS so that the club could avoid administration that was threatened by RBS. That offer was rejected.
“It is a tragic development that others will claim as a victory. This means it won’t be resolved the way it should be resolved.
“My clients worked tirelessly to resolve these issues but RBS would not listen to any reasonable solution and the directors acted selfishly and illegally. Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett wanted to position this club for the future, but others have a different agenda.
“In truth, there is nothing positive from these events for Liverpool Football Club. That is exactly the opposite of what my clients wanted to achieve.”