Premier League approves Reds takeover

October 8, 2010

The Premier League approved the proposed sale of Liverpool to the American owners of the Boston Red Sox on Friday, but could end up docking the club nine points if the takeover falls through.

The league said in a statement that executives from the New England Sports Ventures, which runs the Boston baseball club, met the requirements for owning the storied English club.

"The Premier League is satisfied, with the information provided, that the individuals NESV intend to put in place in the event they complete their takeover of Liverpool FC meet the criteria set out in our Owners' and Directors' Test," it said.

However, the 300 million-pound ($476 million) takeover is not yet final and is set to be settled in court.


"We are aware that the formal completion of this takeover is yet to be resolved," the league said.

Co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. are opposed to the Red Sox bid, which they say "dramatically undervalues" the club and they are trying to fire the three other board members, who are going to court next week to force through the sale.

The owners face a deadline of next Friday to repay bank loans and penalty charges of around 285 million pounds.

If the court rules against the takeover and Hicks and Gillett can't refinance their liabilities, the club's holding company - Kop Football - may be forced into financial administration, a form of bankruptcy protection.

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton has told The Associated Press that financial administration "is staring us in the face."

Under Premier League rules, a team which goes into financial administration faces a 9-point penalty deduction - a sanction imposed last season on Portsmouth before it was relegated. Liverpool is already mired in the relegation zone after its worst start to a league season since 1953.

For now, though, the league has approved the suitability of the Red Sox ownership group led by financier John Henry to run Liverpool.

"The Premier League has met with the owners and directors of New England Sports Ventures (NESV) regarding their proposed takeover of Liverpool FC and has received details, in accordance with Premier League Rules, of the proposed company and ownership structure as well as the makeup of the new board," the league said.

The sale to the Red Sox owners would leave Hicks and Gillett with a loss of around 140 million pounds on their investment in Liverpool. NESV are also pledging to wipe out all the club's debts, while investing money in revitalizing the team and redeveloping the stadium or building a new one.

Despite approving NESV's bid, the Premier League is still carrying out the same checks into the suitability of an unnamed Asian group's bid to run the club. Liverpool's board considered the viability of the bid alongside the Boston one before it was rejected.