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English Premiership

Chairman confident of takeover

LONDON, October 8 – Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton said Thursday he was confident the takeover of the Premier League club by the owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team would go ahead.
Broughton believes an expected attempt by the club’s current American owners to fight the 300-million-pound (475-million-dollar) deal in the courts will fail.

"I am confident we will prevail, but you can never be 100 percent when you go to court," Broughton said.

"I think we’ll get there, but I can’t make a promise."

He was speaking after one of the owners, Tom Hicks, told the BBC he was determined to fight the takeover.

The battle for control of the most successful club in English history is likely to go to the High Court in London next week.

Liverpool’s board said Wednesday it had agreed a deal with New England Sports Ventures (NESV) but co-owners Hicks and George Gillett claim to have sacked two directors to halt the sale.

The Liverpool board consisting of Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre outvoted Hicks and Gillett in agreeing the sale.

However, in an effort to keep control, the owners claim they have replaced Purslow and Ayre with Hicks’ son Mack and Lori Kay McCutcheon, a senior executive of Hicks’ company.

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They claim the move gives them a majority on the board and therefore the ability to block any sale.

In an email to the BBC, Hicks said: "We legally reconstituted the board and the board does not approve of this transaction."

Asked how he and Gillett could block the move, Hicks added: "We have removed Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre."

Hicks and Gillett believe the deal substantially undervalues the five-time European champions who they bought three years ago and would see the pair lose 140 million pounds if it goes through.

But Broughton rejected their claims to be able to block the sale.

"We will be seeking a judgement that we acted within our rights. They tried to remove Ian and Christian, and after taking legal advice I told them that was invalid," he told the Liverpool Echo newspaper.

"We proceeded to agree a sale on Tuesday night. The court case should be some time next week. The High Court acts fast.

"When I took the role it was because George and Tom recognised the only way to move forward was to sell the entire club.

"They said if they sold the club they wouldn’t have credibility, so I was to add credibility to the process.

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"Our collective objective was to find the right buyer – not necessarily the highest bidder."

If the court rules in favour of Hicks and Gillett then they still have to meet an October 15 deadline set by the Royal Bank of Scotland to repay loans of 240 million pounds (380 million dollars) and 40 million pounds (63.3 million dollars) of fees they are owed.

NESV, headed by former futures trader John W Henry, has promised to clear the "acquisition debts" accumulated by Hicks and Gillett and bring success and trophies back to a club currently languishing near the bottom of the Premier League.

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has welcomed news of the planned sale after months of uncertainty about the future ownership.

"It’s very positive and of course I’m delighted," he said. "It’s been going on a long time and I know how hard the board have worked to set things up.

"I know it’s not easy for them because the owners have other ideas in terms of the sale of the club and what is achievable.

"But I was delighted to hear the news and have it confirmed that it looks like it is going to go through."

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