Boston Red Sox owner John W Henry today pledged to fight Tom Hicks’ “last desperate attempt” to hang on to Liverpool as the takeover battle appeared to move into its final stages.
Henry said his New England Sports Ventures (NESV) company has a binding agreement to buy Liverpool.
His statement comes with Hicks looking likely to try to enlist the hedge fund Mill Financial – which already owns George Gillett’s 50% of the club – to pay the £280m (€318m) debt to the Royal Bank of Scotland by today’s deadline and thwart the takeover by NESV.
Sources close to the deal confirmed that Hicks has removed the restraining order imposed by a Texas court preventing the club’s sale. A reason for doing so would be to allow the Texan to sell his stake to Mill Financial.
NESV believe any such attempt by Hicks would have to be ratified by the Liverpool board and they would be prepared to return to the High Court to have their binding agreement upheld.
Henry said on his Twitter account this morning: “We have a binding contract. Will fight Mill Hicks Gillett attempt to keep club today. Their last desperate attempt to entrench their regime.”
NESV are poised ready to send the money for their £300m(€340m) takeover and believe they have the law on their side – their lawyers won a second successive significant victory yesterday when Mr Justice Floyd granted anti-suit injunctions to nullify decisions taken in the court in Dallas late on Wednesday.
The judge said his mandatory orders were not aimed at the Texas court but Hicks and Gillett to stop them taking further action there.
He was scathing in his remarks about the American co-owners’ conduct, which he described as “unconscionable”.
Liverpool’s independent chairman Martin Broughton, who brokered the NESV deal, was positive as he left the offices of their legal team Slaughter and May last night.
“We’re nearly there. We’ve still got to take away the restraining order,” said Broughton, who added he hoped to have a deal in place for Henry to attend Sunday’s Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.
“Mr Henry is very committed. My guess is we’ll have it done and he’ll be there - but we’ve got to get rid of this order first.”