Hicks and Gillett request new Dallas court hearing

Hicks and Gillett request new Dallas court hearing

Liverpool again moved to the brink of new ownership after a British High Court judge dismissed an injunction preventing the sale of the club.

However, with Tom Hicks and George Gillett's lawyers requesting a hearing with a judge in Texas which is due to take place within the next 30 minutes, the end of the saga was tonight still a long way from being concluded.

For the second time in just over 24 hours the club's independent directors - chairman Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre - were given the go-ahead by Mr Justice Floyd to complete a £300m (€340.7m) deal with New England Sports Ventures (NESV).

Last night a hastily-convened board meeting ended in resolve to go through with the sale to the owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise.

John W Henry, the head of NESV, even turned up at the meeting at the offices of legal firm Slaughter and May last night anticipating a conclusion. He returned there tonight.

Hicks and Gillett last night informed the England-based directors they had attained a temporary restraining order preventing the sale going ahead.

And, after a second successive defeat in the High Court, the American duo have instructed their legal team to return to the 160th District Court in Dallas for another hearing with Judge Jim Jordan.

Royal Bank of Scotland, the club's major creditors who are due to be repaid £240m (€273m) tomorrow, returned to the British High Court today for a ruling on jurisdiction and were given the answer they required.

Mr Justice Floyd, in granting an anti-suit injunctions in a bid to nullify decisions taken in the court in Dallas, was scathing in his remarks about the American co-owners' "unconscionable" conduct.

The judge said his mandatory orders were not aimed at the Texas court but Hicks and Gillett to stop them taking further action there.

David Chivers QC, who told the judge that his clients NESV already considered themselves the new owners of Liverpool, asked the judge for a speedy serving of his orders on Hicks and Gillett so the deal with NESV can be completed and money transferred from the US.

He said if the deal was not completed tomorrow, then Hicks and Gillett had succeeded in stopping the sale of Liverpool before repayment of the debt to RBS became due.

Chivers described Hicks and Gillett as "the owners from beyond the grave who are seeking to exercise with their dead hand a continuing grip on this company. That is simply not acceptable."

Mr Justice Floyd gave Hicks and Gillett until 4pm tomorrow to comply with his orders, making his decision today rather than the morning because there "is a degree of urgency to allow the club's board to control its own affairs".

Earlier, Liverpool's QC Lord Grabiner had said the actions brought in Dallas were "abusive, vexatious and oppressive".

He said claims made to the Texas court suggesting a conspiracy involving board members and RBS were a "grotesque parody of the truth".

Richard Snowden QC, for RBS, said there were no legal representatives for Hicks and Gillett in court even though they had been informed of the latest move.

"The proceedings in Texas are plainly inappropriate," Snowden told the court.

"This dispute involves an English football club and three English companies and has no connection with Texas other than that Hicks and Gillett may reside there.

"It is a plain attempt to frustrate and impede the proceedings."

He said the American owners had made "scurrilous allegations" against RBS in the Texas court which had no basis in fact.

Mr Snowden said granting anti-suit injunctions always ran the risk of an affront to a foreign court.

"But it is apparent the US judge himself was aware that what he was being asked to do might cause some ruffling of feathers in this jurisdiction."

Mr Snowden told the judge Hicks and Gillett were applying in Texas for an order that yesterday's board meeting in the UK was "a contempt of the Texas court".

Liverpool issued a statement on behalf of Broughton, Purslow and Ayre.

“The independent directors of Liverpool Football Club are delighted with the verdict of Mr Justice Floyd in the High Court this afternoon which now requires Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett to withdraw their Texas restraining order by 4pm tomorrow,” it said.

“We are glad to have taken another important step towards completing the sale process.”

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