The sale of England’s most successful soccer team to John W. Henry’s Boston Red Sox holding company is unlawful because the board wasn’t authorized to approve the sale of Liverpool Football Club, according to co-owner Tom Hicks.
Hicks and partner George Gillett are trying to block the 300 million-pound ($476.4 million) sale, arguing that they should’ve been able to institute boardroom changes that would’ve allowed the offer to be rejected. Both feel the club is worth more, with the current deal leaving them with a loss of 140 million pounds, Liverpool Chairman Martin Broughton said.
Broughton said in an interview with Bloomberg today he had a written agreement with the owners prior to joining the team in April that only he would be allowed to change the composition of the board. Broughton blocked the Liverpool owners’ attempts yesterday to fire Commercial Director Ian Ayre and Managing Director Christian Purslow.
“There were no such undertakings given to Broughton, the board has been legally reconstituted, and the new board does not approve of this proposed transaction,” Hicks’s New York-based spokesman Mark Semer said in a statement to Bloomberg News.
The matter is now heading for the courts with Hicks and Gillett arguing that Purslow and Ayre shouldn’t have voted on the deal because they had been replaced by Mack Hicks and Lori Kay McCutcheon, who is vice president at Hicks Holdings LLC.
“They agreed to give me a written undertaking that I was the only person who could change the board,” Broughton said. “They gave me a written undertaking that the sale would take place at the U.K. holding company, of which the board would be five. It would be the board that could sell and I had the casting vote.”
With a deadline for Hicks and Gillett to repay a 237 million-pound debt with Royal Bank of Scotland Plc days away, Broughton called a board meeting to discuss two “excellent bids,” before Henry’s group was chosen ahead of a Singaporean billionaire.
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