Hicks and Gillett Thwarted in Attempt To Block The Sale of Liverpool

Jon FeatonbyCorrespondent IOctober 14, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13:  A sign placed on the gates of The High Court refers to Liverpool football club owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett on October 13, 2010 in London, England. The court has ruled that the owners of the club, Hicks and Gillett,  have no power to stop the sale of Liverpool FC.   (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

I'm getting a bit bored of this.

The last few days in the history of Liverpool Football Club have resembled a very bad story line from a soap opera.

The Liverpool board, thanks to chairman Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre, agreed on October 6 to sell the club to New England Sports Ventures (NESV).

The trio outvoted current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who wanted considerably more money in the deal, paving the way for NESV to replace the much maligned American pair.

This was news to Liverpool fans the world over. 

The £237.4 million debt that Hicks and Gillett had run up while the club is due for repayment by 15 October, or else a £60 million charge will be added, and the club could be placed in administration by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

With the club in turmoil, languishing in the bottom three of the English Premier League, it was vital that the problems surrounding the ownership were sorted out, and fast.

But just as there seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel, it emerged that Hicks and Gillett were challenging the decision of the board, claiming the Broughton, Purslow and Ayre were acting against the best interests of the club.

This was particularly hard for Liverpool fans to swallow following the myriad of broken promises that have defined Hicks and Gillett's time at the club.

The challenge led to a High Court Case, which was heard in London yesterday.

As a result of that hearing, Judge Christopher Floyd dismissed their claims, saying that: "I am not prepared to grant any relief. If I did, it would risk stopping the sale and purchase agreement going ahead."

This appeared to have ended the matter, and in an interview on the club's official website, Broughton suggested that the deal could have been completed within 48 hours.

Then this morning came the news that Hicks and Gillett had taken out a restraining order against Broughton, Ayre and Poulsen, RBS and NESV.

The oddity of this move, which was combined with rumours that the American pair were seeking £1 billion in damages, was that the order was granted by a Texan court, and so had no relevance to Britain.

Later in the day, Mr Justice Floyd once against ruled against Hicks and Gillett, granting an anti-suit injunction.

I am informed that an anti-suit injunction is a court order requiring a person to refrain from commencing litigation or cease litigation in the courts of another country. Hicks and Gillett will now face contempt of court charges should they not withdraw their legal action in America by 1600 BST tomorrow.

This deadline would allow for a quick completion of the sale to NESV, in time to pay back the loans to RBS.

I would love to be able to say that this now looks likely to happen, but I've given up predicting where this story will go next. 

Who would have thought there was a Merseyside derby on Sunday?

With all this going on, fans will be hoping for a welcome 90 minutes of satisfying distraction.