Liverpool Sale to Boston Red Sox Owners Is Far From Finalized

The timing of the release of an anti-Tom Hicks video made by British film producer Mike Jefferies and Liverpool FC supporters couldn’t have been better. While a majority of the Liverpool board has agreed to sell the club to New England Sports Ventures (NESV), owners of the Boston Red Sox, New England Sports Network, Fenway Sports Group and Rousch Fenway Racing, Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton revealed that “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.”

The message in the above video is loud and clear. Liverpool supporters don’t want Tom Hicks (or George Gillett) anywhere near their football club.

But, at the same time, the sale of Liverpool Football Club is not over. If anything, the civil war between the board members is just starting, and the outcome could have massive ramifications on what happens next. According to The Guardian newspaper:

An official statement from Liverpool, surely unprecedented in the history of a club which has always prided itself on keeping internal disagreements private, said the board was preparing to approve the sale yesterday. However, Hicks and Gillett sought to block that decision by ousting the managing director, Christian Purslow, and commercial director, Ian Ayre, and appointing instead Hicks’s son and a close ally.

The three directors opposed to the owners – Purslow, Ayre and the chairman, Martin Broughton – who can outvote Hicks and Gillett, clearly approved the release of the statement. It suggested they believed both bids were solid enough to approve because they would “repay all [Liverpool’s] long-term debt” and they were preparing to do so.

However, Hicks and Gillett, the statement said, not only opposed the offers, apparently because they would not provide them with a satisfactory enough profit for their shares, but tried to replace Purslow and Ayre with Hicks’s son, Mack, and Lori Kay McCutcheon, the financial controller at the Texan’s company Hicks Holdings. That would have given the Americans a majority on the board.

The other three clearly resisted and Purslow and Ayre remained on the board last night, finally at odds publicly with Hicks and Gillett. The statement said of the balance of power in the boardroom: “The matter is now subject to legal review.”

Kudos to Broughton, Purslow and Ayre for standing firm against Hicks and Gillett. But as The Guardian’s David Conn explains, the situation is far from over:

As for what happens next in this endgame being played by Broughton, Purslow and Ayre against the bank deadline of 15 October, it is still in flux. Hicks and Gillett sought to remove Purslow and Ayre yesterday to prevent the three, as a majority, approving a sale of the club to John W Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, or another, unnamed, Asian buyer. Neither, apparently, would have delivered a personal payday to the Americans. The statement said: “This matter is now subject to legal review.” But the fact that the board meeting did not proceed and a sale was not approved strongly suggests that the non-owning three cannot force Hicks and Gillett to sell.

Hicks has tried to refinance, borrowing the money he and Gillett owe Royal Bank of Scotland from another finance house, which the other three directors opposed and which did not come off.

The power, everybody knows, rests with RBS, the collapsed bank now 84% owned by the British taxpayer who bailed it out. Yet the last thing the bank wants is to be in charge of a football club as high-profile, crisis-hit and emotionally volatile as Liverpool. All along, the possibility most pondered has been for RBS to reclaim the club on 15 October, if Hicks and Gillett do not pay up, with a buyer lined up for the bank immediately to sell to.

There are many twists lying in wait before so clinical a solution can be orchestrated, especially with the club’s three directors having decided to make no secret of their opposition to Hicks and Gillett.

So the message from Liverpool supporters to Tom Hicks, courtesy of Mike Jefferies film is more important than ever. The pressure is on Hicks and Gillett to walk away and agree the sale rather than fighting for every penny they believe they deserve. What will be interesting is to hear Tom Hicks’s side of the story and whether he plans on conducting the legal dispute in private or whether he’ll come out in the public with his viewpoints.

24 thoughts on “Liverpool Sale to Boston Red Sox Owners Is Far From Finalized”

      1. so sorry for having my dates mixed up… But ever think the club was sold down the river by the former chairman, an Everton man?

  1. I met Henry once at a Sox game. It was a rain delay and my friends and I were huddled in the back to stay out of the wet. A friend asked some random dude walking by if he knew if the game was going to be called or not and he replied “Not if I have anything to say about it. This ain’t nothing.” At which point other friends noticed the championship ring and that we were standing kinda close to the owner’s box. A bunch of questions followed and Henry was pretty cool about answering them, talking about restoring Fenway and the Sox as a whole as rebuilding history. He gave us a bunch of championship keychains and headed off.

    And if the sale goes through, that makes this American’s quest for an EPL team that much easier. After initially ruling Liverpool out as one of “The Big Four” (I think we all do that, right?) I started to follow them because Mascherano was on my fantasy team and I was trying to figure out whether or not to boot him (I should have never bought’em in the first place, but hey, clueless American in a post-World Cup haze). All the backroom and locker room drama has given a bit more narrative for me to hold on to, plus reading about all the “Roy should do X and Y, Liverpool needs a player that can Z” has been a decent education into tactics and team building.

    Plus, with LFC in its current slump, bandwagoning isn’t an issue. If the sale goes through, the chances of Liverpool playing an exhibition game at Fenway would go up too, which would be nice as the recent addition of a baby to the family means a trip across the Atlantic is now years away.

    Like the possible purchase, nothing is definite yet, but more and more, I’m leaning Red.

  2. As a Red Sox and Tottenham supporter I’ll be crushed if NESV buy Liverpool and the Yankees buy Spurs. If that happens, the only thing I’ll cling to is that ownership (as we’ve seen across english football these last few years) is not forever. But what a dilemma! So I hope neither sale happens.

  3. Honestly, as an Arsenal supporter, I’m tired of hearing about Liverpool supporters crying about their ownership. If you want to blame someone, blame the previous owners for selling to Hicks and Gillette. Hicks and Gillette are American BUSINESSMEN. They came to Liverpool in an attempt to make money. They don’t want to sell now because they want to get some kind of return on their sizable investment and if they can’t, they’ll probably just run it into the ground and then jump ship.

    About the video – To me it’s a group of fans that want their club to win, and I respect that, however, the guy who starts talking at the 2:11 mark is an idiot to compare a business venture gone wrong to an entire family being raped.

    1. Yep, like it or not, this is about dollars/pounds/euros. Hicks and Gillette are in it for the money, just like the Glazers.

    2. The guy you reference is Ian McCullough, front man for Echo & The Bunnymen. That’s just an FYI. His quote is over the top, though.

    3. Well said Rich:

      The fact is that Liverpool has been a poorly run club the better part of 18 years, they have been behind the the curve in maximizing revenue via its global brand since the Premier League began. Something Hicks correctly brought up in a interview one year ago (they have since done vastly improved deals with Adidas and standard chartered respectively.)

      It’s not like Benitez didn’t have money to spend, should he have had more? Yes, but based on his transfer record, I’m not too sure it would’ve made a difference.

      As for the new owners breaking their promises – they simply got swept up in the global credit crisis – – now they can barely service “their” loans much less finance a new stadium. Are they, clueless, poor, business men – yes. Would the club be better off without them – yes, but to blame them for everything that is wrong with Liverpool Football Club, including the cold meat pies is rather silly.

  4. Love this deal. As a die hard Red Sox fan, I”m excitied at the prospect of John Henry and team really brining the EPL to New England at least. I hope this means NESN can show some of their games or do recap of the EPL league.

  5. As a die hard Yankees fan, this kind of sucks, though I honestly don’t care who we are sold to at this point, as long as new owners come in. But yeah, not very thrilled about being connected to the sawx .

  6. Perhaps Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nayan has a few friends with the means to upset the American bid and Liverpool can join Man City as a team owned by an Emerati or perhaps a member of the House of Saud.

  7. Many liverpool fans are thrilled that Hicks and Gilette will be out and Henry will be the new owner. I’m not so sure that Henry will be the best owner for Liverpool in the long term. He may be better than Hicks and Gilette but I have my doubts if he understands the soccer culture in England. The Glazers are already under pressure from Man United fans and Lerner is not that popular anymore at Villa. Owning the Red Sox is very different to owning Liverpool. Two different cultures.

    1. I don’t know, is the culture really that different in terms of expectations of owners?

      Pay the bills on time. Maintain/ improve the grounds. Provide the money to spend on talent, both via the transfer market and internal player development. Don’t run up huge debts to finance your ownership. Hire quality people to run your club, and don’t micro manage them.

      The end. This really seems to be all that is wanted from owners. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about EPL, MLB, Premiership Rugby, NFL. You can summarize it in three points: 1. Give us the money to succeed. 2. Don’t run the club into the ground financially. 3. Don’t meddle in management decisions, if their performance is sub par, find a replacement and make the change, but realize that just because you are a billionaire doesn’t mean you understand and are qualified to make sporting decisions.

  8. This is just another reason for me to dislike Liverpool. FYI for all you Irish sports fans, you don’t HAVE to root for the Redsux and Liverpooh because your Irish.

    Up the Chels and come you Yanks!

  9. Hey guys, I’m new here. I’ve been reading the site for a while but don’t comment because I’m an American with a lot to learn about the EPL. I decided to jump in now because I’m a Red Sox fan and a Liverpool fan.

    The Red Sox and Liverpool fan bases are similar in that they’re passionate, knowledgable, have a strong sense of history and are a bit mistrustful of outsiders. I remember when Henry bought the Sox in 2002 (oddly enough, the same year I became a Liverpool supporter) Sox fans were wary of him; not sure he’d understand the culture and how much winning means to the fan base. Obviously he delivered, and he did so by hiring great people and opening the purse strings, both of which can translate to any sport.

    Henry might not know Kenny Dalglish from the hole in the wall (yet) but that doesn’t mean he can’t revamp the club. I just hope the Merseyside fans don’t come down to hard on another American buying the team. Henry is not Hicks/Gilette.

  10. It’s one thing to own an American sports team and a totally different beast in owning a soccer team in Europe. In order to be successful in owning a soccer team you have to not only be good at managing the finances of the team but also understand the sport and what it means to the fans. The culture that a previous poster mentioned has to do with the culture of the sport which is definitely very different in Europe as it is in this country. I’ve travelled to Europe and seen first hand how fans there live and die by their team. Not so here. Liverpool fans are not just in Liverpool but the world over. Yes, the Lakers and Celtics do have fans all over the world but not in the numbers that European soccer teams have.

    I wish Henry all the best if he does gain control of Liverpool but he has a lot of learning to do when it comes to what Liverpool soccer team means to their fans.

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