NESV Takeover Moves A Step Closer As High Court Rules Against Liverpool Co-Owners Tom Hicks & George Gillett

"Inappropriate in the circumstances" to grant Hicks & Gillett an appeal
The High Court has ruled against Liverpool owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks' attempts to block the £300 million sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures.

Judge Mr Justice Floyd has declared that chairman Martin Broughton was correct to sanction the proposed deal with NESV. At the request of creditors, the Royal Bank of Scotland, a mandatory injunction has now been put in place on the American stewards which will force them to restore the original constitution of the club's board after they attempted to remove Broughton, commercial director Ian Ayre and managing director Christian Purslow.

Justice Floyd also decided that it would be "inappropriate in the circumstances" for him to grant an appeal for Hicks and Gillett and they would have to apply directly to the appeal court for permission.

The judgement declared illegal Hicks and Gillett's bid last week to remove the trio and replace them with Mack Hicks and Lori Kay McCutcheon. A board meeting tonight at 20:00 was sanctioned by the judge and this will now decide the future direction of the club.

A statement on Liverpool's official website read: "We are delighted that the court has clarified the issue of board composition and has removed the uncertainty around the sale process.

"We will now be consulting with our lawyers and planning for a board meeting tonight. A further statement will be made in due course."

Speaking to the court in his summing up, Justice Floyd said: "The current state of Liverpool is unsatisfactory. Owners have no right to veto the sale of the club. They [Hicks & Gillett] do have the right to be present at board meetings where the state of the club is discussed."

Director Purslow believes today's events secured Liverpool's future for the next decade.

"This is a great day for the club and will hopefully allow Liverpool to concentrate on football for the next ten years," he was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

In a twist to the saga, Broughton refused to confirm that the deal with NESV was guaranteed to go through. This opened the door to Singapore billionaire Peter Lim who has made an improved £360m bid.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Broughton slammed Hicks and Gillett's actions and offered hope to Lim.

He said: "I'm disappointed that they acted in this way to breach the undertakings they gave me.

"The board has to be reconstituted. I can't prejudge what the board could say.

"It would be inappropriate to pre-judge what the board will say."

The 63-year-old added: "We will get the right owners for the fans."

NESV's owner John W. Henry has reacted promptly to the ruling and took to an account purported to be his on Twitter to offer his congratulations.

He stated: "Well done Martin, Christian & Ian. Well done RBS. Well done supporters!"

This message was echoed by wife Linda Pizzuti on the social networking site: "The verdict is in: The sale can go through."

Almost five hours of legal debate from five barristers was heard in London yesterday as the sides pleaded their cases. The issue had come to a head as the impending Friday deadline approached for RBS to be paid back a £237m loan from the American stewards.

Hicks and Gillett now stand to lose £144m after Justice Floyd agreed with the terms set in April when the RBS debt was refinanced that Broughton had the final say on the make-up of the board.

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