Pool’s American dream team

LIVERPOOL’S prospective new owners last night promised to rid the club of their crippling debts and restore the Reds to their “rightful place” in football.

New England Sports Ventures (NESV) said they will remove all “acquisition debt” from Liverpool – some £200m – if their takeover is successful.

The owners of the Boston Red Sox also confirmed their £300m bid had been accepted by Liverpool’s board. Whether it is successful depends on the High Court’s ruling on a legal challenge by current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who are facing a £144m loss and are claiming the board do not have the power to accept the offer against their wishes.

A statement from NESV said: “NESV wants to create a long-term financially solid foundation for Liverpool FC and is dedicated to ensuring that the club has there sources to build for the future, including the removal of all acquisition debt.

“Our objective is to stabilise the club and ultimately return Liverpool FC to its rightful place in English and European football, successfully competing for and winning trophies.”

NESV are principally owned by John W Henry and have been credited with restoring the fortunes of the Boston Red Sox.

Their portfolio includes a successful TV channel, New England Sports Network.

The statement added: “NESV wants to help bring back the culture of winning to Liverpool FC.

“We have a proven track record, shown clearly with the Boston Red Sox.

“The team has won two World Series Championships over the past six years. We will bring the same kind of openness, passion, dedication and professionalism to Liverpool FC.”

The Premier League have given a huge boost to the takeover by saying they would be ready to give the deal the go-ahead as early as Friday.

Hicks and Gillett are claiming the figure of £300m undervalues the club, although they only bought it for £219m in 2007 when Liverpool were strongly positioned in the Premier League and Champions League.

NESV are also committed to tackling the thorny problem of a new stadium, and recognise that Anfield cannot be kept on in its current state.

When they took over the Red Sox nine years ago they decided against building a new stadium and instead regenerated the historic Fenway Park, a decision that has since paid off in revenue terms.

The takeover deal has been steered through by Liverpool’s independent chairman Martin Broughton, installed by the Royal Bank of Scotland as part of their refinancing agreement with Hicks and Gillett in April.

“This is a great day for Liverpool Football Club and the supporters,” Broughton said.

“I can understand why there 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.

“If you look at the Boston Red Sox, they have taken a major traditional team, previously successful but not at their peak, and resuscitated it to be a winner. They have been the most successful team since acquiring the Red Sox in 2001 – there are parallels with Liverpool.”

Broughton said NESV would seriously look at building a new stadium or possibly redeveloping Anfield. He added: “There is definitely a commitment to invest in a stadium and we will finish up with a 60,000-plus seater stadium. “Where they haven’t finalised their view is whether that should be the new stadium or whether there are still opportunities to build at Anfield itself.”

Broughton did his best to reassure fans who are wary that more American owners could lead Liverpool down the same path Hicks and Gillett did.

“This is a very profitable organisation, it has a substantial number of wealthy investors – about 17 I think – and it has very little debt in the organisation,” he said. “I understand the concerns but they are not replacing one massive debt with another one.”

The deal will see Liverpool freed of £200m of debt with £37m of “external debt” – a typical working overdraft facility – remaining.

It would also mean Hicks and Gillett would lose £144.4m as the money the Americans themselves put in a holding company would not be covered by repayments to creditors.

That is the reason the duo have objected to the sale, as they have always sought a much higher purchase price to allow them to make a profit or at least break even.

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