Liverpool FC sale: chairman Martin Broughton heralds 'new era'
Oct 6 2010 By John Thompson
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LIVERPOOL FC chairman Martin Broughton today heralded a new era at Anfield after he, Managing Director Christian Purslow and Commercial Director Ian Ayre removed Tom Hicks and George Gillett from the club.
Liverpool have been provisionally sold for £300m to New England Ventures – an American sports investment company which runs the Boston Red Sox baseball team – restored to its former glory by NEV over the past decade.Today Broughton declared them “winners” as he revealed the takeover now sees Liverpool freed of £200m of debt.
£37m of “external debt” remains. But that is basically a typical working overdraft facility and the agreed deal would see Liverpool carrying the second lowest debt burden in the Premier League.
Broughton said the new owners are committed to building a new stadium – possibly by redeveloping Anfield – in a bid to keep the club's history and traditions in place on the present site. Broughton said they would investigate an idea to redevelop on the current stadium site first mooted by Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish.
If not feasible he said they will build a new stadium on the alternative site in Stanley Park.Broughton also revealed a tight contractual agreement has been put in place to ensure the debt for taking over Liverpool can never be put back on the club again – as Hicks and Gillett did sparking the crisis of the past few years.
He acknowledged there will now be court action to try and prove the sale to New England Ventures is legitimate and has been properly handled. He insists it has been.
But Hicks and Gillett, who it is understood walk away with no profit at all from three-and-a-half years in charge, are bound to contest the sale in court, meaning a period of uncertainty for fans about their exit being final.
British Airways Chairman Broughton said today: "We set out to find the right owners for Liverpool. It's been a fascinating process full of twists and turns – even a farce at times.
"But we have with Barclays Capital been leading the process exhaustively across the world.
"We have had two very attractive offers from two bidders of roughly the same amounts who would prove excellent owners. I think we have chosen New England ventures because if you look at their track record with the Boston Red Sox it's been outstanding.
"These guys are winners. It's all about winning to them and it's all about building or developing the stadium. They are absolutely going to invest in the stadium.
"They understand that winning is what drives fans. They will be excellent owners.
"Altogether it's a £300m deal paying off the acquisition debt of £200m.
Broughton said New England Ventures had revolutionised the fortunes of the Boston Red Sox after taking over in 2001.
He added: "If you look at the Boston Red Sox when they arrived everyone said 'We have to build a new stadium - this one is clapped out'.
"They looked at it, its tradition and decided to invest heavily to reinvent Fenway Park, rather than move to a new stadium.
"They have been the most successful team since acquiring the Red Sox in 2001 - there are parallels with Liverpool."Broughton also revealed the dramatic details of yesterday afternoon at Anfield when Hicks tried to sack Purslow and Ayre before a crunch board meeting.
He told them they could not do so.
Said Broughton: "This is not straightforward.
"I don't want to tell you about the detail because that will be subject to legal proceedings.
"But in trying to remove Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre they made an astonishing move.
"I say that because as part of my appointment they gave specific undertakings to the Royal Bank of Scotland that said Martin Broughton was the only person authorised to make any board changes.
"Otherwise they would take no action to frustrate any reasonable sale.
"They basically flagrantly abused those two undertakings to RBS and removed Christian and Ian from the board and sent us details just before the board meeting saying they had been removed and appointing two others.
"We took legal advice and I determined that the action was invalid.
"So I went back to Tom Hicks and George Gillett, reconvened the board meeting and said 'Look, your action is invalid'.
"I told them I was continuing to hold the meeting with Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre present.
"They objected, called for an adjournment - which I declined - and offered them the opportunity to take part.
"They chose not to, although George Gillett's lawyer was there.”
Broughton said the club would now be applying for a court judgement over the disputed sale which will tale place in a UK court hearing at a date to be decided.
He said: "The sale is subject to us having valid authority to sell.
"We are applying to court soon for a declaratory judgement to get the court to declare that the action we took was proper and valid.
“No one likes being in court – someone comes out winning and someone comes out losing.
"If there is any justice we will win
Broughton added: " This is a great day for Liverpool Football Club and the supporters.
"I would like to thank the Liverpool fans for their patience.
"I know how frustrating it has been for them wanting to know what is going on.
"I know they have been frustrated by my refusal to give a running commentary.
"But I have always believed – and this demonstrates it – that the best deals get done behind closed doors."
Broughton stressed there are 17 principal investors behind New England Ventures and that the future is by no means dependent on the personal wealth of John Henry Winter.
He also moved to allay fans fears about one set of Americans being now replaced by other US owners at Anfield.
He said: "I can understand why that might be an instant reaction about them being American. But being American is not a problem.
"Leveraged ownership of a football club is the problem.
"I just hope we can deliver what we have set out to do.
"We have found the right owners. There will be money to invest in the squad.
"It is all about winning – that is their philosophy."
Read More http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news//2010/10/06/liverpool-fc-sale-chairman-martin-broughton-says-john-w-henry-and-new-england-sports-ventures-will-be-excellent-owners-100252-27413801/4/#ixzz11Zs492fL