High Court gives Liverpool sale green light
Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton has been given the green light to sell the club to New England Sports Ventures after the High Court granted an injunction against George Gillett and Tom Hicks' Texas court ruling that threatened to block the deal.
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Gillett and Hicks' last-minute delaying tactic was nullified by presiding judge Mr Justice Floyd and the duo were strongly condemned in High Court for taking "unconscionable'' action to try to prevent the board pushing through the takeover.
Mr Justice Floyd said he had given a ruling in London on Wednesday that meant the English directors of Liverpool could agree a £300 million takeover by John W Henry's NESV. But before the board could make any decision on Wednesday night, Hicks secured a temporary restraining order, against what he described as an "epic swindle" by the board, from the Texas court.
Mr Justice Floyd explained his ruling was not against the Texan court itself, but against the American duo. It is effectively an order compelling Gillett and Hicks to apply to the Texan court to lift their injunction, on the basis that the Texan court has no jurisdiction in this case.
After the ruling, Liverpool FC released a statement that read: "The Independent Directors of Liverpool Football Club are delighted with the verdict of Mr Justice Floyd in the High Court this afternoon which now requires Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett to withdraw their Texas Restraining Order by 4pm tomorrow [Friday].
"We are glad to have taken another important step towards completing the sale process."
David Chivers QC, who told the judge that his clients, NESV, already considered themselves the new owners of Liverpool, asked the judge for a speedy serving of his orders on Hicks and Gillett so the deal with NESV can be completed and money transferred from the US.
He said if the deal was not completed on Friday, then Hicks and Gillett had succeeded in stopping the sale of Liverpool before repayment of the £234 million debt to RBS became due.
The judge gave Hicks and Gillett until 16.00 BST on Friday to comply with his orders but a lawyer for NESV suggested the duo would need to withdraw their claim by 15.00 BST to allow enough time for the sale to be completed.
After a second successive defeat in the High Court, the American duo have instructed their legal team to return to the 160th District Court in Dallas for another hearing with Judge Jim Jordan.
On Thursday evening, the Texan court announced that the decision on Hicks and Gillett's restraining order would be heard on Friday at 13.00 BST. An official for the court said the judge would be holding the hearing with legal representatives from both sides.