LIVERPOOL UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 01: Martin Broughton (L) Chairman of Liverpool FC welcomes Roy Hodgson as he is unveiled as the new Liverpool FC manager at Anfield on July 01 2010 in Liverpool England. (Photo by Clint Hughes/Getty Images)

Last Days Of Hicks And Gillett: Restraining Order Withdrawn, Soon-To-Be Former Owners Left To Pursue Damages

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Liverpool Sale Saga, Continued: Hicks, Gillett Withdraw Restraining Order

The sale of Liverpool FC to New England Sports Ventures (NESV) has overcome its final hurdle, with soon-to-be former co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett withdrawing a temporary restraining order blocking the club's sale. Now the transfer, approved by LFC's board of directors last week, can proceed, though Hicks and Gillett are now set to pursue damages, according to the BBC.

Early Friday morning it was announced that a temporary restraining order, granted early this week in a Texas court, had been withdrawn as Tim Hicks looked to sell his shares of the club to Mill Financial, a U.S.-based hedge fund. The Premier League rejected Mill's request to undergo a fit and proper test, saying they would only work with the Liverpool board.

That setback has left Hicks with little recourse than to accept defeat in the face of today's deadline to repay loans to the Royal Bank of Scotland. NESV hopes to complete their purchase today, with Hicks and Gillett set to "pursue every legal avenue" for what they estimate to be £1 billion in damages.

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Boston Red Sox Buy Liverpool: Competitive Bid By Peter Lim Withdrawn

According to British press on Twitter, Singapore billionaire Peter Lim has withdrawn his £320 million bid to buy Liverpool. It is being reported that Lim’s bid was “ignored” by the club’s board.

With the higher bid withdrawn, New England Sports Ventures has a near-certain lock on the purchase of Liverpool—that is, if the Texas court lifts the injunction and allows a sale to go through.

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Boston Red Sox Buy Liverpool: Club Returns To High Court

After yesterday’s ruling that Liverpool could be sold went against the wishes of Tom Hicks and George Gillett, a Texas court granted an injunction to the Americans, essentially halting the possibility of the club’s sale.

And so Liverpool FC are back in high court today. The Royal Bank of Scotland, to whom the club is in debt, contends that the Texas injunction is inappropriate. It is believed that Mr. Justice Floyd will not overrule his ruling of yesterday, but further action may be needed in Texas.

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Boston Red Sox Buy Liverpool: Hicks And Gillett Lose In Court; Club Can Be Sold

American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett lost their battle to retain control of Liverpool FC. Mr. Justice Floyd ruled today in favor of the Royal Bank of Scotland, stating that Liverpool clearly breached their agreement with RBS by attempting to rearrange the board of directors, thus interfering with the club’s sale. The possibility of an appeal has been ruled out.

Liverpool fans, celebrating the exit of the duo they worked so hard to oust, can look forward to the future and what change new ownership might bring to their team. Martin Broughton, chairman, declared that the board will be reconstituted by 8 p.m. tonight—that’s 3 p.m. Eastern—and host a meeting this evening to determine if new owners will come on board by tonight.

New England Sports Ventures, owners of the Boston Red Sox, are still favorites to assume ownership of Liverpool. However, Singapore businessman Peter Lim, believed to have offered a higher bid, is also in the running, as is American hedge fund Mill Financial.

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Boston Red Sox Buy Liverpool:The Reds In Court; Singapore Billionaire Peter Lim Offering £320+ For Club

American owners of Liverpool FC, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, are in the limelight today for attempting to block the £300m of the club to New England Sports Ventures (NESV), the owners of the Boston Red Sox. The Royal Bank of Scotland, to whom Hicks and Gillett owe £240m, brought the club to court in an attempt to force the sale.

The duo insist that the £300m offer undervalues the club. Although the sum would clear Liverpool of their debt, it would leave Hicks and Gillett with a loss of £144m. In an attempt to block the deal, the two tried to remove two board members and replace them with others who would vote against NESV. However, the RSB asserts that only Liverpool’s independent chairman, Martin Broughton, has the authority to make changes to the board.

To further complicate matters, Singapore billionaire Peter Lim has offered £320m for Liverpool, plus an additional £40m to allow the club to buy players.

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Boston Red Sox Buy Liverpool: Royal Bank Of Scotland Obtain Injunction Preventing Tom Hicks, George Gillett From Reorganizing Liverpool Board

In a decision that could be seen as foreshadowing tomorrow's court dealings, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) obtained a court injunction on Friday, an order preventing Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett from reorganizing the club's board of directors.

On Friday, RBS is owed £280 in outstanding debts from Kop Holdings. Failure to repay that amount could find the club in administration, though an agreement with New England Sports Ventures to purchase the club would clear its debts.

On Tuesday, Hicks and Gillett had sought to replace directors Christian Purslow and Ian Arye ahead of a meeting to assess two bids to purchase the club. That meeting led to the board approving the bid from NESV, whose ownership of Liverpool was approved by the Premier League last week.

Tom Hicks has sought to replace Purslow and Arye with his son, Mack Hicks, and a business associate, Lori Kay McCutcheon. The move was blocked by Martin Broughton, the club's director, who consulted lawyers before deciding that the sole right to reorganize the club's board rested with him, part of the underwriting entered into at the time of his April appointment. Broughton proceeded with Tuesday's meeting, where NESV's £300 million bid was approved by a 3-2 vote.

Hicks and Gillett are to be heard by a High Court tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. BST, where Broughton is to seek declaratory judgment confirming his actions in selling the club. Then, Hicks and Gillett are expected to argue they had the right to reorganize that board, and as they had changed the board before Tuesday's vote, the sale of the club was not approved by its actual board of directors.

On Friday, the Royal Bank of Scotland where able to obtain an injunction preventing Hicks and Gillett from reorganizing the board of directors, affirming the position Broughton acted upon last week. Tomorrow in court, Hicks and Gillett will have to show the lender's position is erroneous.

Should the NESV sale go through, Liverpool's new owners will clear the club's debts; however, personal loans to the club made by Hicks and Gillett, loans totaling and estimated £144 million, would be cleared from the books unpaid.

RBS, who also revealed Liverpool has been in technical violation of their refinancing agreement for some time, issued a statement outlining the lender's position in relation to Kop Holdings, Liverpool's parent company:

"RBS in its capacity as lender to the Kop group of companies received the benefit of various contractual undertakings from Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett in relation to the corporate governance arrangements that Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett agreed would apply to the Kop group of companies with effect from April 2010.

"Those undertakings provided for the appointment of Mr Broughton as chairman of the board and the appointment of the chief executive and commercial director of LFC to the Kop boards.

"As is well known Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett purported to make changes to those corporate governance arrangements on 4 October. This was in breach of those contractual undertakings.

"In light of that purported breach of contract RBS sought and obtained on Friday 8 October 2010 an interim injunction against Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett until a further hearing scheduled for tomorrow.

"Among other things, that interim injunction prevents Mr Hicks or Mr Gillett taking any steps to remove or replace Mr Broughton from his position as chairman of the board of the Kop companies or from taking any other steps to appoint or remove any directors from the board of the Kop companies."

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Boston Red Sox Buy Liverpool: Liverpool Could Face Administration If Sale Does Not Happen By October 15

Liverpool, who only have 6 points thus far in the Premier League, could enter administration if their sale to New England Sports Ventures is not completed by October 15.

Liverpool’s parent company, Kop Holdings, owes £280m, and if the club enters administration, it could face a nine-point penalty—which those of you who are good with numbers will notice takes the team to -3 points. Portsmouth faced a similar situation last season, ended up in last place, and were relegated to the Championship. They now sit just above the relegation zone in that league.

In other words, Liverpool needs to get its act together. If Hicks and Gillett manage to block this takeover, they’re going to have an even bigger mess on their hands.

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Boston Red Sox Buy Liverpool, Video: Guardian Surveys Views On Both Sides Of Atlantic

From the Guardian, some interesting (if curious) views on Liverpool's potential sale from each side of the Atlantic, be it Share Liverpool FC's Rogan Taylor implicitly stoking some anti-U.S. sentiment, skepticism from a Red Sox fan seeing money that could be used on his team, or somebody stateside who (like many) sees few soccer fans beyond the U.S. Men's Nation Team's support:

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Boston Red Sox Buy Liverpool: Tom Hicks To Fight On, Says "Board Does Not Approve"

In an email exchange with the BBC's Brian Alexander, Liverpool FC co-owner Tom Hicks indicated ownership intends to stand in opposition as chairman Martin Broughton seeks a High Court's declaratory judgment approving the club's sale to New England Sports Ventures (NESV).

According to Hicks, NESV's offer should have never been approved, as the board of directors he put in place did not vote on the deal.

However, Hicks and Gillett claim Purslow and Ayre were replaced - believed to be by Hicks's son, Mack Hicks, and Lori Kay McCutcheon, a vice president at Hicks Holdings - giving the owners a majority on the board and with it the ability to block any sale.

When asked about the takeover by Alexander, Hicks replied: "We legally reconstituted the board and the board does not approve of this transaction."

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

That removal was rejected by Broughton, who claims to have been given the sole power to reorganize the board when he was appointed chairman in April.  

Hicks attempted to place son Mack and business associate Lori Kay McCutcheon into Purslow and Arye's director position; however, Broughton rejected the move, claiming "written undertakings" made at the time of his April appointment gave him sole power to reorganize the board.

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Boston Red Sox Buy Liverpool: Roy Hodgson Endorses New Ownership

Liverpool FC's web site continues to publish endorsements of New England Sports Ventures, the group set to take over club ownership from Tom Hick and George Gillett's Kop Holdings. Yesterday, it was chairman Martin Broughton and vice-captain Jamie Carragher. Today, it's manager Roy Hodgson.

As published by the club on Thursday morning, Roy Hodgson called the agreement "very positive," saying he "was delighted to hear the news," saying "[t]he club will be in pretty healthy situation ... if the sale goes through."

"It's very positive and of course I'm delighted," he told Liverpoolfc.tv. "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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Boston Red Sox Buy Liverpool: 144 Million Reasons Why Hicks, Gillett Want To Stop Sale

Though Martin Broughton has said Liverpool's sale to New England Sports Ventures (NESV) will go through, current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett have 144 million reasons to keep fighting the sale. That fight, which will play-out in court over the next week (with Broughton seeking a declaratory judgment approving the sale), is the only way Liverpool's owners can save themselves from taking a bath on the sale.

According to the Guardian, the proposed £300 million sale to NESV would see Hicks and Gillett lose £144 million on their Liverpool investment. That figure stems from loans the two owners have made to the club, loans that would go unpaid under the agreement between Liverpool and NESV.

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Boston Red Sox Buy Liverpool: Club Wants You To Know Jamie Carragher Supports The Sale

Along with announcing the club's Board of Directors had agreed to sell the club, Liverpool wants you to know that everybody supports the sale to New England Sports Ventures. At least, that's the only reason I can think of why Jamie Carragher's comments on today's announcement are featured prominently on the club's web site.

Just in case Reds supporters were unclear how horrific Tom Hicks and George Gillett were, why not let one of the faces of the club bring clarity:

And Carragher told Liverpoolfc.tv: "Everyone knows it'll be a good thing for the club.

"Hopefully it will be sorted sooner rather than later and we can start looking forward on the pitch and start improving results, which is what we need to do."

The last sentence is a bit strange and gets to the paradox of Liverpool's poor start, though it would be unfair to read Carragher's comments too literally. If we did, the response could see him casting the ownership turmoil as something standing between the players' and their ability to move forward. The surely can't be the case. After all, when was the last time Hicks and Gillett strapped on a pair of boots?

Still, that excuse has been prominently used by some, so if there is one benefit to the ownership chaos being alleviated, it's the fact that we'll never have to hear the rhetorical contortions being made by those who want to argue a team with Liverpool's talent and depth lacks the resources to succeed. When you see the likes of Milan Jovanovic, Maxi Rodriguez and Daniel Agger fighting for time, it's difficult to argue Liverpool lacks the players to win.

Regardless, it's interesting to see the extent to which Liverpool's pushing this story. Obviously, it behooves the club to try an embolden supporters who have, for so long, been hoping for good news regarding this ownership situation. It's about time they were given something to smile about. At the same time, there is something unseemly about the club's chairman turning politician, with one of its iconic players being put front-and-center of this new-found marketing campaign.

One day after a series of smarmy political maneuvers are required to settle the ownership of one of England's two most storied clubs, two of the club's most prominent figures are playing pitchmen. Perhaps Carragher is doing so far less than chairman Martin Broughton, but he got pulled into putting his name to quotes before the dust's even settled. If the dust doesn't settle the way Broughton plans, this will all seem a bit silly and a waste of time.

Even now, there is a combination of "you doth protest too much" and "you should be above this."

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Red Sox Buy Liverpool, Video: Martin Broughton Talks About Getting NESV Approved

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton has been making the rounds on Wednesday. Be it print outlets or via video, the man who orchestrated the sale of Liverpool FC has been getting in front of the story, explaining why a club valued by its owners at £600 million was sold for £300 million.

That's one of many reasons today's action required some explanation, joining the impending court judgment and the boardroom coup as beguiling parts of this process.

Here is the chairman explaining his action as well as the immediate future of the club. This video is courtesy of Sky Sports:

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Red Sox Buy Liverpool: New England Sports Ventures Confirms Accepted Bid, Issues Statement

New England Sports Ventures (NESV) have issues a statement confirming their bid for ownership has been accepted by Liverpool FC's Board of Directors.

Though the release is apropos of any public announcement in a formal proceeding, key phrases such as "long-term financially solid foundation," "ensuring that the Club has the resources," and "removal of all acquisition debt."

In other words, "those guys talk like us, but they're not us."

And that's just the statement's third sentence.

Here is the statement, replicated in a number of sources today, though it you go to the Liverpool Echo, you'll also have access to some nice background on NESV and its two principle partners.

 

New England Sports Ventures ("NESV") can confirm that their bid for Liverpool FC has been selected by the Club's Board of Directors and agreement has been reached with the Board to purchase the Club.

NESV wishes to extend their appreciation to the Board for their diligence and their efforts on behalf of Liverpool FC and its supporters.

NESV wants to create a long-term financially solid foundation for Liverpool FC and is dedicated to ensuring that the Club has the resources to build for the future, including the removal of all acquisition debt.

Our objective is to stabilize the Club and ultimately return Liverpool FC to its rightful place in English and European football, successfully competing for and winning trophies.

Since 2001, New England Sports Ventures has made successful investments in sports and entertainment properties.

Our portfolio of companies, including the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park, New England Sports Network, Fenway Sports Group and Roush Fenway Racing are all committed to one common goal: winning. NESV wants to help bring back the culture of winning to Liverpool FC.

We have a proven track record, shown clearly with the Boston Red Sox.

The team has won two World Series Championships over the past six years.

We will bring the same kind of openness, passion, dedication and professionalism to Liverpool FC.

We are hopeful with regard to the pending legal and English Premier League procedures now underway, however, in light of these issues, we will respectfully refrain from comment or further actions at this time.

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Red Sox Buy Liverpool: Martin Broughton Details Struggle For Liverpool Boardroom

Tom Hicks and George Gillett are on the precipice of losing ownership of Liverpool Football Club at a marked loss on their initial investment after club director Martin Broughton successfully out-maneuvered the club's owners to gain approval of the Reds' sale to New England Sports Ventures.

At least, that's how Broughton described this events which started Tuesday, when Hicks and Gillett attempted to regain control of the club's board of directors by replacing two-fifths of the panel with pro-ownership members.

The Independent outlines the plot beautifully, a story which starts moments before a board meeting called to consider two proposals to purchase the club.

Shortly before that meeting, Broughton (per his telling) received notice that board members Christian Purslow (Managing Director) and Ian Arye (Commercial Director) had been removed from their places and replaced by Mack Hicks (Tom Hicks' son) and Lori McCutcheon, a financier at Hicks Holdings.

Under the impression that he held the sole power to undertake chances to the board, Broughton - who became director in April as part of a plan to appease Hicks and Gillett's creditors - sought legal advise, trying to assess whether the club's owners were empowered to make such changes. Advised that the duo did not, Broughton informed Hicks and Gillett that the action was rejected, and although the owners asked for the meeting to be adjourned, Broughton persisted with the process.

The owners then left the meeting, leaving George Gillett's lawyer behind. The sale of Liverpool to New England Sport Ventures was then approved, leaving the club to pursue a court to validate its actions as legal.

Though Broughton speaks of the legal proceedings as perfunctory, the failed coup, the walk-out in protest, and the decision with only three-fifths of the board present could provide a remarkable ending to one of the more melancholy ownership tenures in recent spots history.

Still, what strikes me about the Independent's piece is the forthright-ness with which Broughton speaks. He is the director of a club whose sale (and corresponding legal proceedings) is still pending, yet he has no qualms with providing surprising detail to the behind-doors happenings at Anfield. His frank nature speaks to the degree to which bridges are burned, the contempt Hicks and Gillett have accumulated, and the need to garner a public trust around the reclamation of Liverpool.

While it seems strange that an ownership group is being pushing-out against their wishes, within the context of the last year at Anfield, it somehow makes perfect sense.

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Red Sox Buy Liverpool: Reaction Through England's Papers

As compelling as today's drama surrounding Anfield is how it's being perceived around England. If today's layouts from England's most prominent papers are any indication, there is a bit of caution to the coverage - perhaps an latent feeling that we might not be as close to closure as Liverpool's announcement hints?

Let's start with the NPR of British coverage, the BBC:

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Straight-forward, unimaginative: Disappointing. I can feel my inner-monologue switching to Terry Gross.

Let's spice it up a little bit and see what Sky Sports has to say:

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As long as an aging, under-performing icon approves the move, there's really no need for the courts to get involved.

If we're going to go lunacy, might as well go straight for the Daily Mail:

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No!  No, no no!  Sanity? Straight-forward reporting? An opportunity wasted, Mail Online. Surely some baiting of the anti-U.S. factions of the footballing public is in order?

As along we're going sane, may as well go to the Guardian who, unlike some of the above outlets, has the coverage on the front page:

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It's a question that Reds will be asking themselves for some time, as saving Liverpool this season looks out-of-the-question. Speaking of questions, could the Guardian have found a more type-ing picture than a rich American businessman with a disproportionately large cee-gar raising his hand in triumph after a baseball game? If only Henry's fist was clenched around a Remington.

Let's see what some of the Guardian's competitors did, starting with the Telegraph:

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All the reaction? And I thought this post was somewhat original.

We could get The Times' take, but ...

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This is all we can see on the wrong side of their pay wall (hey Times, hook an editor up!).

The Independent takes a different route:

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Oh, yeah.  There's that.  The whole "is it legal" thing.  We'll cover that more, but first, let's see how the Liverpool Echo's handling the story:

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The Echo heralds Broughton heralding, though again on the right, the question: Who is John Henry? These papers may as well ask the real question on more Liverpudlians' minds: Is John Henry different than Tom Hicks? Probably doesn't help that they're two older, white businessman who owned baseball teams and have a couple of the most American (yet English) sounding names you'll find in this country.

And finally, a healthy reminder from the blog-o-verse, courtesy of The Gaffer at EPL Talk: Screen_shot_2010-10-06_at_9

And when that beard talks, I listen.

All screenshots were taken at roughly 9:30 a.m. PST on Wednesday, October 6.

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Boston Red Sox Buy Liverpool: Premier League Can Approve By Friday

According to the Telegraph, the Premier League will be able to approve Liverpool’s transfer of ownership by Friday, October 8. Billionaire John W. Henry and New England Sports Ventures have made a £300million for the Reds, and the club has notified the league of the potential sale.

While much of the complaints about Liverpool’s current situation have centered on the American owners, it appears that the club will move from American hands to American hands. Obviously a change in ownership will not be a magical balm that heals all of Liverpool’s wounds, but the hope is that the transition will at least settle some of the worries surrounding the team. Perhaps when the dust settles, the talent of the squad and the manager will be apparent once again. At least, that’s what supporters hope at this moment, with their squad languishing in the relegation zone.

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Boston Red Sox Buy Liverpool: Profiling The Club's Board Of Directors

The Guardian is all over the Liverpool sale, including a piece by Gregg Roughley profiling the five members of Liverpool's Board of Directors - from the well known to North American sports fans to the little known to the Kop faithful.

We knew about Tom Hicks, George Gillett and Mark Broughton. Though overshadowed of late, Christian Purslow is known to many, but only those who follow Liverpool's politics on the daily recognize the name Ian Arye.

The Guardian gave a brief run-down of these players. We augment:

Tom Hicks, Co-Owner

A name known to most North American sports fans, Hicks is the current owner of the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars and the ignominious former owner of Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers.

While owner of the Stars the franchise won the Stanley Cup in 1999, though it says something for what happened with the Rangers that two facets of Hicks' baseball ownership overshadow that accomplishment.

First, Hicks authorized the notorious Alex Rodriguez contract: a 10-year, $252 million dollar deal that brought the then-Seattle Mariner shortstop to Arlington. Texas dumped the contract four years into the deal, trading Rodriguez to the New York Yankees.

Second, a minor quibble: the Rangers ended-up bankrupt.

Along with George Gillett, Hicks has owned Liverpool F.C. since February 2007 when they were approved to buy the club from David Moores.

George Gillett, Co-Owner

Gillett, who made his money in television broadcasting, is best known in North America as the former owner of the Montreal Canadiens, the most successful franchise in the history of the National Hockey League.  Gillett bought the Canadiens in 2001 for US$185 million, selling the team in 2009 for Cdn$550 million.

Gillett and Tom Hicks had frequently been at odds over the running of Liverpool, with Gillett coming close to selling his shares to a Dubai-based group two years ago.

Martin Broughton, Chairman

Broughton was brought in st club chairman in April of this year, a move thought to appease creditors, with Hicks and Gillett's debts to the Royal Bank of Scotland threatening the club's ownership.

A Chelsea fan, Broughton was brought in specifically to oversee the sale of the club. His includion on the board meant Hicks and Gillett no longer held enough votes to block a sale of the club.

Today's sale was a result of Broughton exercising his power - aligning the rest of the board's votes against Hicks and Gillett, forcing the sale. Expect the owners to challenge the sale, though Broughton is confident the board's decision will hold-up.

Christian Purslow, Managing Director

A 46-year-old Harvard educated business man, Purslow has been overshadowed since Broughton was brought-on-board, but his predecessor - Rick Parry - was renown for being the ying to then-manager Rafa Benitez's yang.

Purslow's biggest accomplishments since joining Liverpool in June 2009 were negotiating the £80 million shirt sponsorship with Standard Chartered as well as overseeing the hiring of Roy Hodsgon as Benitez's replacement. 

In addition, Purslow has been vital in negotiating with the Royal Bank of Scotland to keep Liverpool stable while Hicks and Gillett's debt issues were being resolved.

As the sale to New England Sport Ventures was moving toward approval, Tom Hicks unsuccessfully tried to have Purslow replaced on the board of directors.

Ian Arye, Commercial Director

The true unknown amongst the board member, few beyond a club's most ardent supporters know a club's commercial director. Arye has been the club's commercial director since 2007 when he came over Total Sports Asia, having run the consultancy which advises entities on Asian marketing strategies.

A former CEO of Huddersfield Town, Arye is a born-and-raise Liverpudlian and a life-long Red.

Hicks also tried to replace Arye on the board of directors on Tuesday.

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Moving On? Liverpool Set For New (American) Owners After Boston Red Sox Ownership Agrees To Buy Club

The board of directors of Liverpool FC have agreed to sell the club to New England Sports Ventures, the ownership group of Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox, it was confirmed today. Over the objections and last minute machinations of current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Liverpool's board was able to retain the votes to approve the sale.

Those machinations include a late Tuesday attempt to replace board members with people favorable to keeping the club in Hicks and Gillet's hands. According to reports, the duo attempted to have board members Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre replaced with Hicks' son Mack and Hicks' associate, Lori Kay McCutcheon.

Though Hicks and Gillett's withholding of approval means perfunctory legal proceedings may be required, New England Sport Ventures could be in control of the club by the end of the week, a delay which did not prevent club chairman Martin Broughton from taking to the club's website to express his pleasure.

"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.

"We've met them in Boston, London and Liverpool over several weeks and I am immensely impressed with what they have achieved and with their vision for Liverpool Football Club.

"By removing the burden of acquisition debt, this offer allows us to focus on investment in the team. 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."

On October 15, the club faces a deadline to repay £282 million in loans due the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia Bank. That deadline created pressure on Hicks and Gillett to sell the team, and with Broughton's April appointment having relegated the duo to a minority vote on the board of directors, the club was able to confirm the sale without the approval of their previous American benefactors.

According to Broughton, the ultimate price for the club was £300 million, with £200 million going to underwrite preexisting debts.

Tom Hicks heads a group that owns the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars and previously owners Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers before that club ended up filing for bankruptcy. Gillett is the former owner of the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens.

Both owners have been vilified by Liverpool fans since their arrival at Anfield. Initially, that ire resulted from the duo's inability to follow through on promises to produce a stadium to replace Anfield Park. Concern grew as ownership was unable to significantly pay down the debt on which the club was bought, with perception holding servicing that debt was constraining the club's ability to procure talent.

Of late, the club's performance on the pitch has been of greater concern, with Liverpool falling to seventh last season amidst speculation then-manager Rafa Benitez lacked the resources required to maintain the club's standing. Benitez has since moved to Italy's Internzaionale while current manager Roy Hodgson has the club in 18th place.

Much of the criticism toward Hicks and Gillett has been loosely cloaked in the term "American owners." Whether that's served as a convenient shorthand or an indication of a deeper resentment will be tested with the sale to a new set of Americans, an ownership group which come to Liverpool with an impressive record of revitalizing fledgling icons.

New England Sport Ventures brought the Boston Red Sox, one of Major League Baseball's cornerstone franchises, back to competitive prominence winning two league titles since they took-over. However, the group headed by John Henry and Tom Warner may fall under relatively close scrutiny as they follow the failures of their countrymen.

While the importing of another set of American owners may lead to caution, the benefits of seeing "the backs" of Hicks and Gillett are likely to outweigh the detriments of any short-term trepidation:

Meanwhile the Liverpool Spirit of Shankly supporters group, which has led protests against the current owners, reacted with "cautious optimism" to news of a possible deal.

"I think there is cautious optimism and hopefully the football club will finally get rid of Hicks and Gillett," the spokesman said.

"After three troublesome years supporters will want to see the back of them quickly."

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