By Zac Baker
Liverpool this morning confirmed that the club is to be sold to American organisation New England Sports Ventures (NESV).
However, the deal is said to be subject to a legal challenge from current owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, who say a deal is “far from done”.
With their grip on control of the club slipping, Hicks and Gillett yesterday tried to sack club directors Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre in an apparent last ditch attempt to retain ownership.
Hicks and Gillett have since vowed to challenge the validity of the deal through the courts, despite chairman Martin Broughton this morning confirming the deal on the official club website.
“I am delighted that we have been able to successfully conclude the sale process which has been thorough and extensive. The Board decided to accept NESV’s proposal on the basis that it best met the criteria we set out originally for a suitable new owner. NESV’s philosophy is all about winning and they have fully demonstrated that at Red Sox”, Broughton said earlier.
On the situation with the current owners, he added, “I am only disappointed that the owners have tried everything to prevent the deal from happening and that we need to go through legal proceedings in order to complete the sale.”
Debt-ridden Liverpool had been attracting the attentions of several potential buyers over the last year, including Hong Kong businessman Kenny Huang and a bid from a Syrian consortium led by Yahya Kirdi, but nothing had come to fruition until now.
The deal reached between the Liverpool board and NESV is said to fall well short of the current owners’ valuation, further adding to the belief that Hicks and Gillett will fight hard to keep a controlling interest in the club.
NESV, part owned by multimillionaire John W. Henry, said to have a fortune of around £540 million, own an array of sporting companies including Fenway Sports Group, Rousch Fenway Racing and most notably, the Boston Red Sox.
Henry’s track record is impressive, having successfully transformed the fortunes of the Boston Red Sox. Having taken over in 2002, he led them to World Series victories in 2004 and 2007, their first major titles since 1918.
Fans of Liverpool are said to be relieved at the news breaking today, with ‘Spirit of Shankly’ union member James McKenna saying, “We need to rid the club of Gillett and Hicks”
“It does not matter where they come from as long as they understand Liverpool Football Club. That was the problem with Gillett and Hick, they never really got Liverpool.”, McKenna added, when speaking to a BBC reporter.