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Oct 15, 2010

NESV announce final deal for Liverpool

John W Henry has been confirmed as Liverpool's new owner having finally secured the £300 million takeover of the club.

• Adams: What a relief
• Hicks hits back
• Hodgson welcomes takeover
• Hicks & Gillett seek $1.6bn damages
• Forum: How will takeover affect Reds?
• Carragher signs new deal

Henry, the principal owner of New England Sports Ventures (NESV) which also owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team, was told of the news on Friday that Tom Hicks and George Gillett had 'folded' in their bid to cling onto the club.

And the duo will no longer be pursuing their action for £1 billion ($1.6 billion) in damages through the Texas courts - though they could still do so in England.

"Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett have withdrawn without prejudice their Texas lawsuit in order to fully comply with the order of the English court,'' said a statement from Fish & Richardson attorney Tom Melsheimer. "We believe the order is overbroad and unfair, yet Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett respect the legal process.

"We believe that once the English court finally has a chance to hear all the facts, a very different picture will be painted.''

Hicks' New York-based spokesman Mark Semer refused to elaborate on whether the battle would be fought in the English courts. "We cannot comment on legal strategy,'' he said.

ESPNsoccernet was one of the first to speak to Martin Broughton after the deal was completed, telling us that he had "sold it to the right guys, there is no doubt about that".

A statement confirmed the purchase: ''New England Sports Ventures announces that it has completed the purchase of Liverpool Football Club. NESV wishes to extend its sincere gratitude to the Board of Liverpool FC for their diligence and their efforts on behalf of the club and its supporters.

''The transaction values the club at £300 million and eliminates all of the acquisition debt placed on LFC by its previous owners, reducing the club's debt servicing obligations from £25 million-£30 million a year to £2 million-£3 million. New England Sports Ventures is committed to winning and currently owns a portfolio of companies, including the Boston Red Sox, New England Sports Network, Fenway Sports Group and Roush Fenway Racing.''

Henry, who was in London to seal the deal, added: "On behalf of the entire NESV partnership, I want to express how incredibly proud and humbled we are to be confirmed as the new owners of Liverpool FC. We regard our role as that of stewards for the club with a primary focus on returning the club to greatness on and off the field for the long-term. We are committed first and foremost to winning. We have a history of winning, and today we want LFC supporters to know that this approach is what we intend to bring to this great club."

NESV Chairman Thomas Werner, who has also been part of the negotiations, said: "We recognize that Liverpool Football Club is an historic institution ultimately grounded in the community and the fans. Our first step as new owners will be to listen. We want to hear from the Manager and the players and those who are part of the daily operation of the club.

''We will be visible at Anfield and will embrace and listen to those who have stood by this club and who are the rock on which its future success will be built. We want to hear from the fans, local leaders and the local community. We want to hear from those who know LFC best, who have made it the best and share our desire to return to a culture of winning.

''NESV is committed to creating a long-term, financially strong foundation for the club and dedicated to ensuring the Club has the financial resources to be successful again and attract the best players. To that end, the transaction has been structured in such a way as to eliminate all of the acquisition debt on the club.

''In the coming days and months, NESV will work closely with the LFC executive team to listen and learn about every facet of the organization. During this time, the new owners will begin to look at areas for greatest opportunity to increase the appeal of the club nationally and internationally. NESV wants to once again create a culture and environment to allow people to excel at the club on every front. During this period, NESV will also begin to examine opportunities to enhance the matchday experience in the short-term, while also carefully studying the various long-term options that may be possible.''

The pair ended by reaffirming their commitment to putting Liverpool back at the top of English and European football.

"We are eager to commence with our plan, spend time with the organization, its leadership, its supporters, and the local communities. We will take these steps alongside the club's executives with a shared objective of stabilising the club and ultimately returning Liverpool FC to its rightful place in English and European football, successful and competing for trophies," they said.

Liverpool chairman Broughton, who lead the takeover talks was pleased with the outcome.

"I am delighted that we have been able to successfully conclude the sale process which has been thorough and extensive,'' he said. ''The Board decided to accept NESV's offer on the basis that it best met the criteria we set out originally for a new owner. NESV is buying Liverpool in order to put it on an excellent financial footing and continue to develop it internationally. This is a good deal which comprehensively resolves the pressing issue of the club's debt and should give staff, players and fans great confidence regarding the future of Liverpool FC."

The Royal Bank of Scotland, who will now be repayed, avoiding administration for Liverpool, said: "RBS is pleased the sale of LFC to NESV has been completed and are confident this will provide the foundation for the club and its fans to enjoy renewed success on and off the pitch.

"RBS is aware of reports that Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett may intend to pursue further litigation in relation to the sale of Liverpool F.C. The English Courts have described claims made to date as 'not realistic and abusive'. Any further claims against RBS will be vigorously opposed."

Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow added: "The most important thing is that NESV have cleared us of all the debts which, frankly, shouldn't have been on the club in the first place.

"They've done so in a way which leads me to believe that they will learn the lessons of the past and approach the challenge of owning Liverpool Football Club in a way which I think our fans will judge over time and which I'm optimistic will prove to be a very positive improvement on what we've been through recently.''

Purslow said finally getting the deal done, in the face of threatened legal action against him and his fellow directors, filled him with pride.

"Given how this is right up against a deadline which could have had very serious implications for our football club, I'm hugely relieved, hugely pleased to have got over the finishing line'' he added.

"I wish it hadn't taken as long and I wish it hadn't had the twists and turns along the way, but it's very pleasing to get the job done.''

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