LFC sale announced – but nowhere near done

Hicks fights alone against the LFC boardFarce has never been far from Anfield ever since Tom Hicks spoke about “Man Ham” and George Gillett suggested shovels would be in the Stanley Park ground within 60 days of their now much-regretted takeover.

And now we’re getting into what might be the final stages of their reign the bad jokes just get more and more outrageous.

Liverpool FC have, sort of, announced the sale of the club.

In fact what the official LFC statement says is that “the Board” have agreed to sell the club to New England Sports Ventures. Tom Hicks has other ideas.

It says the deal is subject to Premier League approval, which is no surprise. It also points out that legal action to block the attempt by Tom Hicks to change the board will hold the sale up. And in suitably vague fashion, it points out that “other matters” also stand in the way.

It doesn’t tell fans if, or how, they propose to fund the new stadium.

It suggests that they didn’t meet all the criteria set out by Martin Broughton when he began the sales process that should have been complete in August, rather than days before the RBS debt deadline.  They “best meet” that criteria, the statement says.

Broughton says in the statement that they’ve met them over the course of the past “several” weeks, suggesting they arrived on the scene some time after his original target of the end-of August.

The only indication of what happens to the club’s debt is the removal of “the burden of acquisition debt”. If that refers to the amount of debt related to the cost of buying the original shares it would be around £180m of the near £300m of debt the club and its parent companies were in with RBS.

The approximate £150m lent to the club by the owners’ Kop Cayman outfit – their “cash” investment as they like to call it – is unlikely to be repaid under the terms of this deal, although nothing has been said officially about that.

Tom Hicks is unlikely to even get his money back on this deal, let alone make a profit.

As we wait for him and his lawyers to fight Martin Broughton and his lawyers Liverpool fans now need to do their own due diligence on these potential new owners.

Not only does that mean looking closely at their abilities to fund the club properly, but how they actually intend to run it. The days of having people clueless about football in charge of the club must come to an end with its sale to new owners.

Disappointingly, but perhaps for legal reasons, nothing has been revealed about the identity of the second bidder mentioned yesterday.

The statement in full:

Liverpool Football Club today announces that the Board has agreed the sale of the Club to New England Sports Ventures (NESV).

New England Sports Ventures currently owns a portfolio of companies including the Boston Red Sox, New England Sports Network, Fenway Sports Group and Rousch Fenway Racing.

Martin Broughton, Liverpool FC Chairman, said:

“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.”

Note to editors:

The sale is conditional on Premier League approval, resolution of the dispute concerning Board membership and other matters.

This is likely to be rough ride, how long it will last remains to be seen.

20 thoughts on “LFC sale announced – but nowhere near done”

  1. Sad times indeed.I am like everyone else desperately hoping that the owners go and quickly.Mark my words this new guy is even worse.JW Henry is even more controversial.From about 2006 a ton of articles against him peppered the papers.His net worth of+/_ $700 M(forbes)doesn’t inspire confidence at all.This is looking more like a rush job in an effort to appease the fans and obliquely the banks.New stadium anyone?
    The pressure and is really telling Mr Purslow and Ayre and why not naming the other bidder.it is common business practice.Trepidation all around.YNWA

  2. Jim,

    Great to see you are on the ball again and I guess everyone will be glued to the news today after the news that is filtering through this morning.

    It will be a great month if Gillette & Hicks are finally made to leave the club but it looks like a few more days yet with legal battles about to commence.

    I don’t think anyone could have predicted the farcical situation we are in.

    Where are the Premier League board in all of this? Surely they should be putting pressure for a change of ownership as everyone can see it has been a disaster.

    There is very little about the new bid and the stadium plans?

    How is the new bid being funded? Is it another “LBO” deal wrapped under a complex financial structure?

    There are a lot more questions than answers today and if a deal has been agreed, the LFC Board (as it exists today) need to release more information about the successful bid. Which of the set criteria does it meet and which criteria have not been satisfied? Why are the board happy to forgo these criteria?

    Is this just a firesale to prevent Hicks & Gillette holding on as we could have more problems down the line?

  3. Eh…I think you’ve misinterpreted what “acquisition debt” means. I believe it means NESV (should the deal go through) will be acquiring LFC without any debt – ie pure cash. Also, the amount NESV is paying is around £300m which suggests that all £280m of debt associated to LFC will be wiped out. Also, and I don’t mean to be a stickler here, the best meets the criteria statement you reference is “best meets” the “original criteria”. Finally, I worked in the city for a bit, and in essence deals gather pace towards the deadline. In otherwords, Broughton et al will only have met with NESV after NESV will have carried out their original due dilligence, built the business case etc (takes months); expressed an interest; Broughton et al will have carried out their due diligence and doubtless checked their legal position as they will have been expecting this reaction from Hicks / Gillette (again months); once all of this had been done, then they would have met with NESV – so you can see this all would have taken some time and explains why they only met face to face in the last few weeks. It’s part of the process. While the legal challenge is worrying I personally feel this is the death roll for Hicks and Gillette. They accepted RBS’s conditions re. Broughton; they cannot argue that it is in the best interest of the club that Hicks gets a re-financing deal; and any way no one in the market is willing to refinance Hicks; and, most crucially of all, the RBS claw back looms on the 15th. I am very doubtful that they will give Hicks more time, therefore RBS will assume control of the club, and what is it going to do? it’s to go with its man’s, Broughton’s recommendation, ie sell to NESV. H&G are stuffed and they know it. The best they can hope for is a couple more million quid to soften any losses they incur. I must say credit to Purslow, Broughton and Ayre where credit is due.

  4. Steve,

    Excellent post and you’ve reassured me that the club hasn’t been stitched up with this seemingly rapid deal.

    How long do you anticipate the legal processes will take to resolve? Are we talking weeks?

    My only concern is that H&G were able to legally remove the 2 board members, install their own and vote for a refinancing deal with another bank that would pay off RBS. So that action appears to be critical to how things proceed.

  5. This is a potential disaster – I bet you Purslow will be still at the club – the fight goes on – class

  6. Firstly its superb news that Hicks and Gillett are finally being forced out of the club and not on their terms. But whether they make 500 million from the sale or 1 dollar from the sale thats not really my concern.

    When LFC tend to make decisions or announcements these days they seem to be underwhelming to say the least. When Moores and Parry sold to Tom and George I was gutted. On one side I had DIC ruled by one of the wealthiest men in the world, on the other we had Tom and George, a quick google would tell us that together they werent worth enough to make us great again.

    This summer we had Hodgson appointed, a mediocre manager for a great club.

    And finally this. Okay we stand to rid ourselves of Tom and George but another quick google search shows the new prospective owners to be no wealthier than the likes of the two men we are losing. Ive got that same gutted feeling that I had for the two announcements above. Relief to be getting rid of H&G gutted because we wont be able to compete with Chesea and Man City.

    In a way it actually makes me question Broughtons Chelseas ties more, hire Hodgson and sell Liverpool to a guy thats not even a billionaire. Surely as LFC we deserve better on both fronts.

  7. NESV are a credible fund and management company with top-tier names involved such as the New York Times company. As fans we can be very happy – there is not a single blemish in their record, while Hicks and Gillet were already wanted men in both the USA and in the world of Football at the time they purchased pool.

  8. A statement full of crap I might be cynical but this is all to much of a coincedence 6th october annoucing all this when not all details are in place remember joe coles early announcment followed by a massive hike in ticket prices. And whos criteria are they meeting because if it was the fans criteria the statement would have read .A contract will be signed that the only debt against the club will be related to the building of a new 80,000 stadium proper investment in the playing deparment not this imaginary player account that purslow seems to have come up with ticket prices at a reasonable rate to allow as many people to afford to go tthe game with there kids if they choose to. And a clear out of the people who have made this club a laughing stock by the way they got the team playing or with there stupid statements being released to the press thinking we cant see right through them. If these people need naming then you dont care for this club because any true red would know who they are.

  9. so is it gonna be ‘just because you’re paranoid it doesnt mean they’re not after you’ for us all??? Yes, once bitten twice shy and all that but the way some people are acting makes me think that whoever the board got it wouldn’t be good enough. I for one don’t want the City set up, new rules will bring that particular force down to earth with a very large bump, so who does that leave us with?? We are never gonna get a dream partnership,being owned by a billionaire who has been on the kop for his whole life. The club is always going to be sold to a buisness man but I dont want fans paranoia ruining any potential partnership before its even began. We need to build from the bottom up and not through hanging onto past glories. There has to be some level of trust from the fans from the get go or we’ll get nowhere. This process has been a long one and I’d be confident that a lot more due dilligence has been done on the clubs part this time round. To get rid of G&H we have to take a risk with someone. SOS and SL have been great in applying pressure to H&G and the board, hopefully once they do their own research, as I’m sure you will jim, we will know exactly what we are in for and we can make sound conclusions without always automatically taking the glass half empty approach.

  10. @ Juan, do not compare Chalski and Man city to Liverpool FC whan it comes to Money, with the new regulations set by UEFA Man city and chels cannot compete with the like of Arsenal, Liverpool or Manur, there wage ill is to high and there rev are low in comparason. Liverpool dont need a cash cow, with no intrest to pay and a bigger stadium Liverpool can compete with the likes of manur, arse, barca and real in terms of money.

    @ steve thanks for the detail.

  11. Thanks Steve for putting some of your expert knowledge into the equation.

    I truly do hope that NESV are purchasing us with cash and that no further debt will be placed on the club. I am still very sceptical as these deals can always throw up surprises when the legal framework can be exploited at a later date. Look at the last takeover and the many false claims of a bright future being made. The last deal was sold to us as being debt free.

    NESV do not seem that cash rich to be able to compete with the best and although I admire what the BRS stand for, thier present stadium is not up there with the best.

    Having said all of that, they can only prove the fans right with actions rather than words.

    Will Americans be the best placed to ensure we capitalise on our fan base in the East?

    NESV do have a good track records of exploiting TV revenue but the system in the states is entirely different to the block contracts negotiated by Peter Scudamore et al on behalf of all 20 EPL Clubs.

    It looks like a Randy Lerner type of takeover which means a cautious but sensible business approach to transfer policy as I dont see NESV having the funds to lavish on the team. I would rather that though than a rich sugar daddy who could walk away at any time.

    Credit to Broughton though in pushing for the deal to go through as by all accounts it has been Civil War in the boardroom.

    I hear Forbes placed a £850Million valuation on the club. Are they insane? We dont have a new stadium? Out of the CL, in the relegation zone ( I can hardly believe I am saying the R word). Thats why Hicks has been living in La La Land.

    Although I am sceptical it will be fantastic to see Hicks & Gillette actually LOSE money on the LBO of LFC.

    He is hanging on with his fingernails and hopefully the English Legal System will come to our rescue.

    Any other scenario does not bear worth thinking about.

  12. I fully agree with Brian Daniels points on this. All fans have done is moan and moan about Hicks and Gillett, state they’d accept a 9 point deduction and even relegation to get rid of them. Now we approach a point where Hicks and Gillett finally go I cant believe the negativity of fans.
    I’m afraid many live in somekind of wonderland and equate good owners only as being those on a par to Man City’s or Chelsea. We are never going to get a billionaire owner who plows money on players purely for hsi own enjoyment. Lets just be happy that we may have a serious, professional group running us who can develop the club, stadium and build up the playing staff to a better level than previous encumbants have left it.
    Yes, money hasnt been made available to spend on players as it should but money that has been available has also been spent on players that it shouldnt.
    The case is point is our serious lack of strikers at the club which Hodgson and Benitez both seemingly ignored in favour of defensive midfielders.

  13. Were not being negative just very causious we dont want a suger daddy just someone who will allow the club to be self sufficient that would provide enough funds for any manager, also having been lied to for so long were entitled also we want a clear out of the board to get rid of the board member who kept leaking stuff to the press to undermine and assasinate rafas character for all the negatives about rafa he deserved to be treated better. Only ian ayre could possibly say hes done his job properly. As people keep saying its not the liverpool way.

  14. It doesn’t fit cosy into the ongoing story being protrayed in respect of Purslow & co all summer though and that’s the problem with this deal. It reminds me of the ex – she always preferred a bit of drama, never happy with anything, would rather be bitching about somthing or someone and I think there are a lot of people who follow LFC fall into the same caterory. Tony Evans was right all along though.

  15. What a day.

    Woke up yesterday after about 4 hours sleep, had to fast all morning for some routine blood tests, had a flu jab, another late night, then today was another early start and even included a flat tyre.

    As for Liverpool, that’s been a mad day or two as well.

    To answer some of the questions – I don’t know!

    We’ve got to look at this carefully. I’ve heard a lot of good things today, but it’s not all good.

    And most of that first statement of the day could have been 3 years old if you swapped Broughton for Parry and H&G for NESV.

    I think some of the questions above were answered as the day went on.

    If I’m not mistaken MB did say we’d have some debt after this sale, but that’s the kind of debt that most clubs will have, much like LFC had £40m the day H&G first arrived on the scene.

    Five Live have just reported Hicks is sticking by his earlier claims that he has changed the board and this sale cannot go through.

    Thanks for all the comments above, I think we’re all learning about this bid and the whole situation unfolding in front of us.

    And it’s still the case that different people leak what suits, say what suits.

    That is what I’m hoping for most – the end of the lies and spin.

    We can take bad news – just not when we’ve had to work it out for ourselves based on half-stories and innuendo.

    Will we get our club back?

    I bloody hope so!

  16. Cheers for the updates Jim.

    I cant understand how fans dont appreciate why other fans have huge reservations about this deal. It would be easy to welcome new owners with open arms, believe they will build a shiny new stadium, will buy the best players and get us back to the pinnacle of English football. That would be showing huge levels of optimism but it would also be ignoring the last 3 years of hell under Hicks and Gillett.
    I dont apologise for being a sceptic or not showing enthusiasm for this deal. Like alot of fans my belief in the new owners will have to be won over by actions, results and success. Certain fans criticising the likes of me whilst they welcome the new owner with open arms will be the very ones calling for them to leave should things go pear shaped.

    Heres to hoping that wont be the case.

  17. Juan,
    I live in Boston but I’m from Dublin and a life long Red.
    My experience with these owners has been a good one, they have done great things to the Red Sox stadium while bringing 2 titles to after 80 years with none.
    They are willing to put money in. Like any smart businessman they do not like to throw money away. SO they are no sugar daddy and I’m glad of that, we don’t need to buy the premier league title, we have too much history too strong a fan base who love LFC.
    I have watched and been frightened of all the potential buyers from the canadian store owner to the Chinese government.
    Being realistic this is probably the best thing we could hope for barring fan ownership.
    While it is fair play for everyone to be sceptical let’s please look at the past behaviour of these guys and judge them on that. Also the new premier league standards will also help to ensure these guys are credible caretakers of our wonderful club.
    One more point the wealth of one man in a consortium does not make it’s total wealth. I for one am a happy man today and I’m sure we all will be in time. Chelsea fans will regret MB but I admire him for what he has done.

  18. As I was saying, yes we have to be careful, but more importantly, to move forward there has to be an element of risk. We will never sell the club without that risk and by being totally dismissive of new owners before they even get their foot over the threshold. I honestly can not see someone buying the club to run it into the ground a la the previous tenure because the whole world has just witnessed H&G being forced out of liverpool with zero return on their investment( I know, no physical cash payment but you know what I mean). Why someone would want to risk the exact same happening does not make any sense. We are a profitable club with a huge worldwide fan base, we will make the new owner a lot of money in the long run, but only if the club is ran properly. Whoever buys us, we will never be able to get a 100% written guarantee that we will be debt free, have a brand new stadium and a bottomless pit of cash, we can only look to their previous businesses and try to learn something about them. When I hear a lot of people take the sceptical approach I have to ask, what is the alternative, because from where I’m sitting, they arent queuing around the block to buy us. Its small steps for all of us after what has been a disasterous period. Lets not let our damaged soul carry through to the new dawn, whoever it may be with.

  19. @Steve

    It is good to hear the view of people who have first hand experience of what these guys have achieved or accomplished. To be honest I never wanted a sugar daddy to come in and buy us the title but things have been going so badly over the years its the only way I could see us getting back to the top. To win the title under an astute owner with a good business model that allows us to benefit with decent team investment would be a dream. It would be sweeter than any success at Stamford Bridge or at the Eastlands.

    I understand Henry is not going to just throw money at the club but one thing I hope he is aware of that Hicks and Gillett didnt comprehend is that any premier league team does need significant investment in the squad. There may be a season that you need to spend 40 million in the summer and come january the team needs a further 20 million to get us to where we need to be. There may be other summers where 10 million is all thats required but my point is I hope the new owner is not going to go down the route of “heres 15 million, come back to me in another year and you will get another 15 million”. Thats not going to allow us be competitive.

    One positive I have heard is regarding the stadium. If I could choose between building a new stadium or renovating Anfield in to a 60,000 seater it would be an easy choice, Anfield all the way. I would love to think the new owners can make that feasible. The ground has so much history it would be a shame to have to move. A shared stadium with Everton is a non starter.

    By the way Steve I saw an interview with Red Sox fans today and none of them were overly pleased by Henrys acquisition of Liverpool, they feel that it will redirect funds to Liverpool that could be going to the RedSox.

    @ Brian

    I dont think anybody expects an owner to knowingly see Liverpools plight and make it their intention to buy the club and continue where Hicks and Gillett left off running the club into obscurity.

    My concern would be that Henry and his consortium would be buying Liverpool for the same reasons Hicks and Gillett bought it in 2007, because they see it as a 5 or 6 year investment thats going to make them alot of money. If we look at it Henry is getting one of the worlds top football teams on the cheap. If he can redevelop Anfield to a 60,000 seater the price of the club automatically double, if the team is successful along the way its value would probably treble. If thats his only reason in buying the club I would prefer to be owned by a sugar daddy any day of the week.

    If however he has a genuine sporting interest in making the club great again first while making money second then he could be the owner we have been searching for. Its still going to take time for him to prove to us that he is no Tom Hicks or George Gillett.

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