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Five Aside

Broughton and co plan pre-emptive legal action

The trio of controlling members of the Liverpool board have issued legal proceedings against Tom Hicks and George Gillett and are heading to the High Court on Friday to push through the £300 million sale of the club, ESPNsoccernet can reveal.

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Chairman Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre have pre-empted any legal action by current co-owners Hicks and Gillett to stop the planned takeover, issuing a 'declaratory judgment' which their solicitors, Slaughter and May, have prepared for a hearing on Friday.

Hicks and Gillett, whose losses would be an estimated £140 million, are convinced that their legal arguments will halt the proposed sale to the owners of the Boston Red Sox, and an appeal appears certain no matter what the outcome of the initial courtroom battle on Friday.

The trio are anxious that the whole legal process, and indeed the sale that depends upon it, is completed by the October 15 deadline, when the Royal Bank of Scotland calls in its £237 million loans from Hicks and Gillett and effectively owns the club. The bank would then have to sell the club on, or put Liverpool into administration.

"We need to go to the court to get a declaratory judgement, which is for the court to declare that we did act validly in completing the sale agreement, and then the buyers can complete the sale," Broughton said.

Broughton has not ruled out administration, and the club would then plead with the Premier League not to deduct the nine-point penalty.

"This is not a case of financial doping, by overspending on players, wages or transfers," a source said. "It is not the case that the club is insolvent and still trading. It is the borrowings by the two Americans when they bought the club.

"But clearly Liverpool does not wish to risk having nine points deducted, so it's imperative that the sale goes through before October 15, but it is signed conditional on the legal issues being resolved."

The Premier League is planning to rubber stamp the sale on Friday, according to Liverpool sources.


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