Broughton hits out at Hicks and Gillett

Although a £300million deal to sell to New England Sports

Ventures, the owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, was

announced on Wednesday morning, Hicks and Gillett are opposed to

the plan and will challenge the board’s authority to push it

through. That means the issue will have to go to court but

Broughton, who was brought in to oversee the sale process in April

and alongside managing director Christian Purslow and commercial

director Ian Ayre outvoted the Americans three-to-two in support of

the sale to NESV, is optimistic of success. “The key thing is the

court case,” he said. “We need to go to the court to get a

declaratory judgement, which is for the court to declare that we

did act validly in completing the sale agreement, and then the

buyers can complete the sale. “We have to get Premier League

approval and I’m certain that’s not going to be an issue. There are

one or two minor things like that but the key issue is the court,

which should meet I would think next week sometime. That is the

most likely time, in short order. There is an appeal process but

that is also very fast. “If they (Hicks and Gillett) win the court

case, they can block the sale but then we may have one or two other

thoughts in mind as well. “I am confident. I wouldn’t have taken

the board through that process yesterday if I hadn’t been

confident. “I wouldn’t have exposed everybody to that risk if I

hadn’t been confident, but you can never be certain. These things

are legal judgements. We have been properly advised and I am

confident.” Broughton claimed the American owners were going back

on pledges they made earlier in the year, when major creditor Royal

Bank of Scotland extended their finance arrangement until next

week. Changes at board level, one of which was Broughton’s

appointment, were put in place to ensure Hicks and Gillett could

not veto a sale as they no longer had a majority vote or held the

power in the boardroom. So Broughton was annoyed on Tuesday when

the owners attempted to remove Purslow and Ayre and replace them

with allies from family and business. “The owners felt we were

reviewing two bids which they considered undervalued the club and

therefore they wished to remove Christian and Ian and replace them

with Mack Hicks, who is Tom’s son, and Lori McCutcheon, who also

works with him,” said the chairman. “We don’t think it was valid to

do it. Essentially, when I took the role, they gave a couple of

written undertakings to Royal Bank of Scotland. “Those written

undertakings included that I was the only person entitled to change

the board and that was written into the articles of the covenants,

and also that they would take no action to frustrate any reasonable

sale. “I think they flagrantly abused both of those written

undertakings.” Broughton is disappointed in Hicks and Gillett’s

conduct, although his suggestion that this was their chance to

leave Anfield with a modicum of decorum is unlikely to be supported

by fans, many of whom view the pair as hate figures. “This was

frankly their last chance to leave Liverpool with their heads high

and they have chosen to go this route,” Broughton told Sky Sports

News. The Premier League have given a huge boost to the potential

sale by saying they would be ready to give the deal the go-ahead as

early as Friday. League chiefs have been kept informed about the

NESV offer. The Premier League said in a statement: “The board of

the Premier League has been kept fully informed of developments

regarding the potential sale of Liverpool FC by the chairman and

senior executives of the club and has, accordingly, been made aware

of a number of potential prospective owners in recent weeks. “We

can confirm that Liverpool FC has formally notified the Premier

League of an intended change of control and that the board has

undertaken to complete all the necessary processes by Friday,

October 8 so that the sale of the club can proceed.” If Hicks and

Gillett block the takeover, then their holding company could be put

into administration by RBS over their unpaid debts. Premier League

sources say that whether a points deduction would come into effect

remains unclear but it is thought to be unlikely. Liverpool would

argue that under new Premier League rules regarding parent

companies, if the club itself is a fully solvent entity – as

Liverpool are – then the penalty clause should not apply. A Premier

League source said: “The aim of the regulations is primarily to

capture clubs who have gone into insolvency.” For example, last

year West Ham’s Icelandic owners went into administration but that

did not lead to any Premier League action as the club itself was

solvent. The interest of NESV in acquiring Liverpool has gathered

pace over the last week. All prospective owners are obliged to give

the league 10 days’ notice of a takeover and prove they have the

funds to sustain the club.