While fans of Manchester United mull over the latest news of their club’s losses and continuing debt burden, things have started to move over at Liverpool FC. The action of co-owner Tom Hicks last week, when he attempted to remove two members of the board and replace them with his own nominees, is being challenged by the Royal Bank of Scotland, with a hearing at the High Court tomorrow.
This should not be confused with the action taken by club chairman Martin Broughton to force through the takeover by New England Sports Ventures (NESV), which still looks to be on for Friday next. However, if RBS win tomorrow, there appears little chance of Hicks and his co-owner George Gillett mounting any credible opposition to the sale.
So fans will be watching tomorrow as the seventh case in the day’s eighteen scheduled actions comes before Mr Justice Floyd. Given the numbers that may descend on London, the Echo has helpfully provided a map locating the Royal Courts of Justice (it’s at the eastern, or City, end of the Strand) along with nearby Tube stations. Temple looks nearest, so from Euston that means change at Embankment.
The Echo has also printed a full version of the RBS statement on the affair. A quick read through leaves the impression that RBS claim to have been given various undertakings by Hicks and Gillett at the last round of refinancing, and that they regard Hicks’ actions last week as being in breach of those undertakings. Were Mr Justice Floyd to agree their analysis, the current owners would be unable to block the takeover by NESV.
Which would end a sorry chapter in Liverpool FC’s history, and leave a lesson for any other club where takeover features the word “leverage”.
[UPDATE: things are moving quickly - the Beeb's Robert Peston has just revealed that there may be another bidder for LFC]