Liverpool soccer club said it received two buyout offers that would wipe out the 18-time English champion’s debt as owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett tried to oust two board members supporting the proposals.
Hicks and Gillett sought to replace managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre before a board meeting yesterday to review the two bids and approve a sale, Liverpool said in a statement. The owners attempted to appoint Mack Hicks and Lori Kay McCutcheon to the board.
“This matter is now subject to legal review and a further announcement will be made in due course,” Liverpool said in a statement on its website. Purslow, Ayre and Chairman Martin Broughton “continue to explore every possible route to achieving a sale of the club at the earliest opportunity.”
Liverpool got an offer from New England Sports Ventures, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, as well as from a group from the Far East, three people familiar with the situation said.
Hicks and Gillett said the offers “dramatically undervalue” the club and they’ll fight attempts to sell the team without their approval. They said they’ve invested more than $270 million in cash since buying Liverpool in 2007.
“To be clear, there is no change in our commitment to finding a buyer for Liverpool Football Club at a fair price that reflects the very significant investment we’ve made,” Hicks and Gillett said today in an e-mailed statement. “We will however resist any attempt to sell the club without due process or agreement by the owners.”
The American owners are struggling to meet a mid-October deadline to sell or refinance their 280-million pound ($444 million) debt to Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc. Purslow, Ayre and Broughton blocked an attempt by Hicks and Gillett to refinance, said the people, who declined to be identified because talks to sell the club continue. It’s the third time the owners’ refinancing has been stopped by the other board members.
Liverpool, a five-time European champion, failed to reach this year’s Champions League, which can add more than 30 million pounds in revenue. While Hicks said in April that he wanted as much as 800 million pounds for the team, no bidder has approached the asking price for the team, which is now in the relegation zone of the Premier League.
New England Sports Ventures, LLC is the holding company for the Red Sox, Fenway Park and New England Sports Network. New England Sports Ventures, LLC was incorporated in 2001 and is based in Boston.
Red Sox spokeswomen Pam Ganley and Leah Tobin didn’t immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.
Liverpool spokesman Paul Tyrrell said the club doesn’t comment on the sale process. The owners have days to complete a sale or refinance the debt before its maturity, when the government-controlled bank could take control.