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Liverpool's future hinges on High Court decision

Judgement on the High Court case involving Royal Bank of Scotland and Liverpool co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett will be given on Wednesday morning, though the likelihood of appeals and the possibility of damages claims means the case may yet drag on.

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Liverpool fans awaiting news of the decision which is so important to the club's immediate future will discover the ruling at around 1000 BST on Wednesday.

However, there is no guarantee that the judge will back one side or the other on Wednesday morning. He could in fact pass no definitive judgement. It is also anticipated that appeals will be likely following Mr Justice Floyd's judgement.

The High Court in London was the scene of intense media attention on Tuesday as the boardroom disputes between Hicks and Gillett, the club's board and RBS were brought out into the open. Mr Justice Floyd heard more than five hours of legal arguments.

Richard Snowden QC, acting for RBS, accused the two American owners of "breathtaking arrogance" and the bank claimed the pair contradicted the rules of a sales agreement when trying to remove commercial director Ian Ayre and managing director Christian Purslow from the board last week.

Ayre and Purslow had joined chairman Martin Broughton in voting to approve the sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures, and if the court finds in favour of the bank and reinstates the board, then the takeover will be free to progress. Hicks and Gillett are opposed to the sale as they stand to lose £144 million.

Hicks and Gillett admit the sales agreement was breached but argue that they were forced to do so because a "sub-committee" of the board excluded them from the sales agreement and did not consider alternative offers.

It emerged on Tuesday that Singaporean businessman Peter Lim has made a £320 million bid for the club and that American hedge fund Mill Financial has tabled a third offer to pay off all the club's debt and commit £100 million towards a new stadium.

The board has denied claims from Hicks and Gillett that they were left out of the sales agreement, and that it is "besides the mark" that there are two alternative offers as the board are within their rights to accept the bid from NESV.

In a further development, Hicks and Gillett's representative, Paul Girolami QC, told the court that Friday's deadline to repay RBS on October 15 is not applicable and that the two Americans are "locked into an agreement" until November 1 with the bank. This was denied by a QC for RBS, who said the bank "deserves to be repaid £200 million on Friday".

Following the discussions, ESPNsoccernet was told that Liverpool are confident of a positive outcome.

"The mood around the Liverpool Board, RBS and NESP was positive,'' said a source. "There is a feeling that the Judge is fully aware of the urgency needed to sort this out ahead of Friday's deadline and to allow the takeover to go through. That has been the feedback from the lawyers and media alike who were in the courtroom."


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