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Oct 9, 2010

NESV deal is in 'best interests' of Hicks and Gillett

Liverpool's ace card against Tom Hicks and George Gillett in the looming court case is that the £300 million takeover by New England Sports Ventures is actually in the best interests of the outgoing owners - because it wipes out a massive £110 million worth of personal guarantees to the Royal Bank of Scotland.

• Hodgson clause confirmed
• Broughton: "No more Romans"
• Administration is still possible
• Premier League gives go-ahead
• Redknapp backs Hicks and Gillett
Liverpool set for High Court
Board sets out investment plan

Hicks and Gillett stand to lose a total of £254 million if the move by the owners of the Boston Red Sox collapses and they cannot find a replacement new owner by Friday.

ESPNsoccernet can exclusively reveal the cornerstone of Liverpool's case at the High Court next week is that the takeover is in everyone's best interests. The hearing is not likely until Tuesday at the earliest.

An inside source said: "It's in Hicks and Gillett's best interests, the board will argue, because it caps their losses at £144 million. Part of the deal with NESV is that the Royal Bank of Scotland wipe out the £110 million of personal guarantees."

An out of court settlement with Hicks and Gillett cannot be ruled out as the board is so confident that they will win the case.

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton cannot comment on the specifics of the case, but he has told ESPNsoccernet that he believes he can win the case and the takeover can go through.

Behind the scenes 'negotiations' are clearly going on between the warring factions aimed at avoiding a messy public court hearing that would tear the club apart. Equally, the court hearing, which comes just days before Friday's deadline with the Royal Bank of Scotland, is unlikely to be the end of the legal wranglings, as whoever losses the initial hearing is sure to seek an appeal.

On the issue of an appeal, Liverpool's lawyers will argue that if Hicks and Gillett lose and the takeover can go through, and they call for an appeal, it would seriously jeopardise the takeover, and potentially throw the club into administration, thereby putting the club's survival at risk.

If the legal actions drag to a second hearing, it is inevitable that RBS will have to take some decision on Friday, most likely to suspend the outcome of whether to put the club into administration pending the final court room verdict. The logical solution is for both sets of lawyers to find some sort of middle ground, even if it is a settlement on the steps of the High Court. There is no direct contact anymore between the factions, with Hicks and Gillett one one side and the three English members of the board led by Broughton on the other.

Broughton told ESPNsoccernet exclusively: "All of these issues I cannot possibly comment on, as this is going to court, one would assume. We have no date for the hearing yet, but we are told it is a 'short order' and so it would be any day hopefully early next week. The lawyers have told me I am not unable to talk about the case directly."

However, without going into any legal detail, Broughton said: "Yes, I am confident we shall win. However we all know when you have two sets of lawyers they are both telling you that they are 100% confident that they will win."

There is one central key issue of the entire legal procedure, and Broughton made that abundantly clear: "We are going to the courts seeking clarification that we are able to proceed with the sale of Liverpool FC."

Although Hicks publicly declared that he had given no undertaking directly to Broughton about the constitution of the board and the sale process being determined by the board (rather than the shareholders when he did his deal with RBS to extend the facility for six months), Broughton confirmed that such an undertaking was given to RBS.

Broughton said: "The obligation was given to RBS as part of the loan extension agreement. If an undertaking was given to the major creditor, than an undertaking was given."

In another twist, leaked minutes from a Liverpool board meeting allegedly contain Hicks making personal and abusive comments about Liverpool fans, which will increase the hatred already felt by the supporters against the current owners.

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