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Oct 6, 2010

Broughton expects Liverpool deal in a week

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton expects New England Sports Ventures (NESV) to complete their £300 million takeover of the club "in about a week", despite opposition from current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

• MLS chief backs NESV to succeed
• Civil war over Liverpool sale
• New owners to stick with Hodgson
• Brewin: Out of the frying pan
• In profile: John W Henry

Broughton will hand over the club to Boston Red Sox owner John W Henry subject to Premier League approval of the sale and the resolution of a legal challenge from Hicks and Gillett.

The pending deal will clear the major part of Liverpool's £282 million debt to the Royal Bank of Scotland and provide transfer funds for manager Roy Hodgson to buy new players.

Speaking about the sale, Broughton said: "It's likely to take about a week. I would hope we will get the judgement by the end of next week."

He added: "The key thing is the court case. We need to go to the court to get a declaratory judgement ... then the buyers can complete the sale. We have to get Premier League approval and I'm certain that's not going to be an issue."

The Premier League have confirmed in statement they have been kept informed of developments at Anfield and expected the board to complete all the necessary processes by Friday so that the sale can proceed.

That just leaves the issue of Hicks and Gillett, who are opposed to the sale on the terms agreed to NESV, claiming it undervalues the club. They also sought to remove chief executive Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre from their posts in a failed boardroom coup on Tuesday night, after rejecting two offers for their stake in the club.

The American duo are already incredibly unpopular among Reds fans who have staged numerous protests against their ownership and Broughton said: "This was frankly their last chance to leave Liverpool with their heads high and they have chosen to go this route.

"It is a difficult issue. Part of me taking on the role - and I was appointed by Tom and George - was that they gave a written undertaking that only I could change the board, they wrote that into the articles of the two companies Kop Football and Kop Holdings.

"They also gave a written undertaking to RBS that they would not frustrate any reasonable sale and this is frankly a flagrant abuse of those two written undertakings."

Broughton believes the prospective new owners could pursue plans for a new stadium or may choose instead to upgrade Anfield, having chosen to follow a similar path with the Red Sox's historic home Fenway Park rather than move to a new site.

"I think they want to be judged by what they do rather than what they say. If you look at the Boston Red Sox as a massive example of taking a major, historic team which had seen better days and restored them to glory, it is a parallel which demonstrates action.

"Their mentality is all about winning. They have invested a lot of money in players there and they are committed to making the necessary investment in Liverpool.

"At Fenway they chose not to build a new stadium. They will want to make sure that they do the right thing, (but) we will have a stadium which holds sixty-odd thousand. Whether that is the new stadium as designed or not, that is not a commitment, but will we have stadium development? Yes."

Broughton admitted the sale process had been a long one, saying: "We have contacted hundreds of different people and at the end of that process we had two valid bids, both from excellent prospective vendors, on the table competing each other which I think demonstrates exactly what the market price is.

"The price is £300 million, £200 million in writing down all of the acquisition debt, taking on some of the additional working capital debts and other liabilities."

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has welcomed news of the takeover by NESV.

"Everyone knows it'll be a good thing for the club,'' he said on Liverpool's official website. "Hopefully it will be sorted sooner rather than later and we can start looking forward on the pitch and start improving results, which is what we need to do.''

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