Liverpool's Chief Executive Christian Purslow: Sale Of Club Will Still Happen

NESV hope to complete takeover as soon as possible...
Liverpool’s Chief Executive Christian Purslow is still positive that the £300 million sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures will still occur despite the threat of a nine point deduction for going into administration.

Purslow insists that he has looked into NESV which currently own the Boston Red Sox. The takeover, which is pending due to a high court challenge by current owners Hicks and Gillett this week, would wipe out the club's £237million debt.

He also assures that current manager Roy Hodgson's job is safe and that the fans will have a more of a say in how the club is ran if the sale goes through.

"My total priority has been to try to remove the debt which has been put on this club and which has been a cloud since February 2007," Purslow told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme.

"It is wrong that we should have so much of the money that comes through the turnstiles or through our commercial activity goes to pay interest on loans. A bidder who has been willing with cash to rid of us of all this long-term debt is by far the largest and most important priority in evaluating bids.

"We have done our homework and NESV [is] buying this business with cash and clearing our debt which transforms our financial position overnight."

The current owners have a begun a legal challenge to the takeover, arguing that it is invalid and that NESV are undervaluing in the club.

If the high court rules in favour of Hicks and Gillett then the Royal Bank of Scotland could call in the debt as early as Friday, which would put KOP Holdings into administration and ultimately leave Liverpool with a nine-point reduction and bottom of the table with minus three points.

But Purslow is not worried about the threat of administration and is more focused on football aspects and turning the fortunes of the club around.

"Last Monday we had two very good offers to buy our business that would clear all our debts and I am completely focused on making sure that the sale completes. They (NESV) see a number of parallels with the Red Sox when they purchased them and Liverpool today, and the word that jumps off the page every time we sit with them is 'winning'.

"They see winning on the field is linked to how you perform commercially off the field. They go hand in hand. It is extremely enjoyable to make sports clubs more successful. Whether you are a poor or a rich sports fan, winning is great fun and I sense both of those things when we meet with these people.

"They approached us. They met our chairman. He was immediately struck with their seriousness and the entire senior management team of NESV came to Liverpool.

"They spent a large amount of time in the club doing their work and those are important signs of people's seriousness in the transaction business."

The Chief Executive also felt that the NESV front man John W Henry would supply the cash needed to make the club great again and play a more prominent role in proceedings at Anfield.

"You don't spend £300m on buying a sports team for it to be a mediocre team," he said.

"If they buy Liverpool I would expect them to be very visible around the business. They are serious people; they are deadly serious about wanting to succeed. I can't imagine they'd be hands-off for one minute."

He also conveyed the message that Liverpool fans, who have protested continuously over the current ownership, would be listened to in matters which involved how the club was run.

"Our fans have felt much disenfranchised by the experience of the last three years. One thing I really liked about NESV is they are serious about the importance of engaging with their fans.

"I've asked them to consider a scheme at our club that will give our fans a real sense of ownership, a real sense of inclusion, the kind of voice they deserve and NESV have told us they'll look at this very seriously if they complete.

"It's not been easy with the current owners – tensions have been high and so that side of things has been difficult but now that we have potential new ownership I don't want to miss the opportunity to make sure that our fans never again feel so disenfranchised.

"The most important principle is that fans need to feel that they have a means to express their views and to be listened to and the sense of ownership obviously is the most extreme example of that."

Purslow also urged Hicks and Gillett to drop the court case and walk away from Anfield with any dignity remaining.

"Right now they do have an opportunity with one simple short correspondence today to allow a sale to complete and that would clear the club of all the acquisition debt and give us a massive lift before the Everton game [next Sunday]," he said.

"A fresh start and real hope for our fans and players that we can get back to the top.

"That's in their gift and would enable them to leave with some dignity and some peace rather than precipitating a messy dispute. I hope they'll think about that."

And the chief executive refuted claims that Hodgson would not be a part of the new regime, however he was unsure of issues surrounding Anfield.

"We've shown NESV all the plans around the stadium that we have planning permission for in Stanley Park," said Purslow.

"They know we believe this is the way forward and have been very impressed by that. It has been a key ingredient in attracting them to Liverpool.

"A bit too much has been made that when they bought the Red Sox they refurbished the existing stadium. In fact, the same ownership group [with] two previous teams built new stadiums in Baltimore and San Diego.

"It's simple, given that a new owner will be paying for a new stadium it is entirely reasonable and their prerogative that when they get here they want to pull up the carpets, fine-tune the detail that we are proposing and make their final decision. They want to increase the capacity of Liverpool Football Club."

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