Purslow confident Liverpool sale will be completed

Liverpool chief executive Christian Purslow is confident the proposed £300m (€344.2m) sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures will go through.

Liverpool chief executive Christian Purslow is confident the proposed £300m (€344.2m) sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures will go through.

Purslow maintained the Reds board had "done their homework" on the American investment group, which owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team, and said that the club's £237m (€271.9m) debt would be wiped out if the takeover, which is subject to a High Court challenge from current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, goes through next week.

He also insisted manager Roy Hodgson's job was safe and that the Liverpool fans would be given a voice should the new owners be able to complete their takeover.

Hicks and Gillett borrowed money from the Royal Bank of Scotland to complete their purchase of Liverpool in 2007, a debt which Purslow insists would be wiped out by an NESV buy-out.

Purslow told BBC Radio Five Live's 'Sportsweek' programme: "My total priority has been to try to remove the debt which has been put on this club and which has been a cloud since February 2007.

"It is wrong that we should have so much of the money that comes through the turnstiles or through our commercial activity go to pay interest on loans.

"A bidder who has been willing with cash to rid of us of all this long-term debt is by far the largest and most important priority in evaluating bids.

"We have done our homework and NESV are buying this business with cash and clearing our debt which transforms our financial position overnight."

Hicks and Gillett have launched a legal challenge to the takeover, describing it as invalid and insisting that the offer by NESV under-valued the club. The High Court case is set to begin on Tuesday.

If the court rules in favour of Hicks and Gillett, RBS could call in their debt as early as Friday, when repayment is due in full, and force Kop Holdings into administration.

That would almost certainly result in a nine-point penalty being imposed on the club by the Premier League, which would leave them bottom of the table on minus three points.

However, Purslow said: "I'm not even contemplating administration."

Purslow added that the prospect of administration had not been discussed with NESV, who own American baseball team the Boston Red Sox, and all efforts were focused on tying up the deal.

Purslow also gave an insight into why NESV had chosen Liverpool, saying: "Last Monday we had two very good offers to buy our business that would clear all our debts and I am completely focused on making sure that the sale completes.

"They (NESV) see a number of parallels with the Red Sox when they purchased them and Liverpool today and the word that jumps off the page every time we sit with them is 'winning.'

"They see winning on the field is linked to how you perform commercially off the field. They go hand in hand. It's extremely enjoyable to make sports clubs more successful. Whether you're a poor or a rich sports fan, winning is great fun and I sense both of those things when we meet with these people.

"They approached us. They met our chairman. He was immediately struck with their seriousness and the entire senior management team of NESV came to Liverpool.

"They spent a large amount of time in the club doing their work and those are important signs of people's seriousness in the transaction business."

Purslow said he was convinced NESV, fronted by businessman John W Henry, would supply cash for team building and unlike Hicks and Gillett would maintain a high-profile presence at Anfield.

Purslow said: "You don't spend £300m (€344.2m) on buying a sports team for it to be a mediocre team.

"If they buy Liverpool I would expect them to be very visible around the business. They are serious people, they're deadly serious about wanting to succeed. I can't imagine they'd be hands-off for one minute."

Purslow also insisted that if the deal went through the Liverpool fans, who have protested vociferously against the current owners, would be given a say in how the club was run.

He said: "Our fans have felt totally disenfranchised by the experience of the last three years. One thing I really liked about NESV is they are really serious about the importance of engaging with their fans.

"I've asked them to consider a scheme at our club that will give our fans a real sense of ownership, a real sense of inclusion, the kind of voice they deserve and NESV have told us they'll look at this very seriously if they complete.

"It's not been easy with the current owners - tensions have been high and so that side of things has been difficult but now that we have potential new ownership I don't want to miss the opportunity to make sure that our fans never again feel so disenfranchised.

"The most important principle is that fans need to feel that they have a means to express their views and to be listened to and the sense of ownership obviously is the most extreme example of that."

Purslow also urged Hicks and Gillett to call off their High Court action and to walk away from Anfield for the good of the club.

He said: "Right now they do have an opportunity with one simple short correspondence today to allow a sale to complete and that would clear the club of all the acquisition debt and give us a massive lift before the Everton game (next Sunday). A fresh start and real hope for our fans and players that we can get back to the top.

"That's in their gift and would enable them to leave with some dignity and some peace rather than precipitating a messy dispute. I hope they'll think about that."

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