Today sees Liverpool entering a week that will almost certainly go down in history as a turning point.
This isn’t the classic football turning point, the last minute goal awarded despite it looking offside that brings to an end a run of defeats. Nor is the other type of turning point the world of football often discusses, the bad signing that somehow turned a team making progress into a team going backwards.
This week should see Liverpool’s boardroom change, and with it the ownership of the club. If it doesn’t happen this week, the events that make it happen will have already got well underway.
Tom Hicks tried to change one of the boards last week – it’s not clear if that was the Liverpool board or its holding company boards – in an attempt to block the same of the club to NESV. The existing board, the majority of it at least, insist they are still in place and the sale was valid.
Tomorrow the High Court will hear all about it as it asked to make a decision that will be key to Liverpool’s future. However it is believed that tomorrow’s case is one of two that will decide the club’s fate.
Royal Bank of Scotland V Hicks and others is listed for 10.30am tomorrow. Being one of a number of hearings listed it’s not expected to start until much later in the day. The hearing is expected to discuss whether or not the undertakings RBS received from Hicks and Gillett at the last refinancing were valid.
Yet to be announced is the timing of the case between the LFC board (Broughton’s version) and the owners. That case is expected to decide if Broughton and his version of the board had the right to sell the club without the approval of its shareholders, whoever they actually are.
Hicks certainly owns one half of the club, the “others” mentioned in the listing for the hearing will almost certainly be Mill Financial, who are believed to be the owners of George Gillett’s 50% share of the club.
Bloomberg today reported that the Reds holding company, Kop Football Holdings, is already in default with its bank debt, debt that is believed to now amount to £280m. The bank may choose to put the group of companies including the club into administration.
That’s a scenario supporters are happy to live with – but NESV are reported to have said they would walk away if that happened.
It was originally believed that the RBS debt ran until October 15th, but Bloomberg insist their sources say the default has already taken place. This may well be as a result of Hicks’ attempts to block the sale, something the undertakings with RBS reportedly insisted must not happen. Other sources suggest the default technically took place in April and was the reason for the appointment of Broughton.
Hicks invested around £70m of cash into the club but is set to lose that if Martin Broughton’s plan works. Understandably he is willing to fight to prevent that happening – but there is no sympathy for him amongst Liverpool supporters.
What matters tomorrow and potentially over the coming days isn’t who feels sympathetic, it’s what the documents say on them and how the Judge interprets them.
With fans around the world joining forces to help force him out and prevent refinance, and now the club and the banks joining forces to prevent any more attempts to sneak out of his obligations, Hicks must surely realise his time is up. It would be an amazing escape if he found a way out of this corner now, but even then there are many more corners he will find himself in until this is over.
Although he has no doubt escaped from situations like this many times in the past, his abilities to do so seem to be slipping as he nears the end of his career.