Boston Red Sox owners John W. Henry and Tom Werner have been cleared by the Premier League to complete their 300-million-pound ($478 million) purchase of England’s most successful soccer team, Liverpool.
The duo and three associates, David Ginsberg, Jeffrey Vinik and Michael Gordon, have passed a director’s and owners test. They are attempting to buy the club through New England Sports Ventures.
“The Premier League is satisfied, with the information provided, that the individuals NESV intend to put in place in the event they complete their takeover of Liverpool FC meet the criteria set out in our owners’ and directors’ test,” according to a statement.
NESV’s takeover still requires court approval to go through. Co-owner George Gillett and Tom Hicks say the deal is unlawful because they don’t recognize the board that approved the accord.
Hicks and Gillett next week need to repay a 237-million pound loan, which is majority-owned by Royal Bank of Scotland Plc. They say chairman Martin Broughton acted illegally in blocking their efforts to replace board members Ian Ayre and Christian Purslow with two of Hicks’s associates hours before the deal was struck two days ago.
Broughton said in an interview after NESV had been announced as the team’s prospective owners that he had a written undertaking that only he could change the composition of the club’s board. Broughton was appointed chairman in April and was given the responsibility, along with Barclays Capital, to find a buyer.
“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 an Oct. 6 statement to Bloomberg News.
If the sale can’t go ahead or is indefinitely delayed, RBS can put the club’s parent company Kop Football (Holdings) Ltd. into bankruptcy protection and take control of the team, before selling it to NESV or other groups. That would likely incur a nine-point penalty under the league’s insolvency rules.
Liverpool is 18th in the 20-team Premier League. As the results stand now, a nine-point deduction would leave it bottom on -3 if RBS put the team into administration, a form of bankruptcy protection.