“Greed is good!”
While the famous words from Oliver Stone’s ‘Wall Street’ seems to have deluded Liverpool’s (former) American owners, the Kop is holding its breath as the Anfield takeover saga reaches its climax.
In a sudden turn of events, Liverpool Football Club’s official website, on the night of October 5, disclosed that the owners were trying to derail the sale process by sacking the board of directors. Meanwhile, Purslow, Ayre and Broughton at that point of time, were reviewing bids that were in the interest of the club but did not qualify the commercial interests of the owners.
As things turned out, Liverpool Football Club was declared sold, to the New England Sports Ventures, shortly followed by Martin Broughton’s confirmation of the completion of the sale process. It was understood that the board of directors of Liverpool football club, in majority, agreed to the sale of the club to NESV for 300 million pounds. Notably, Tom Hicks and George Gillet did not approve of the sale and this is why the deal is subject to jurisdiction under the court of law. As matters stand, the court approval is expected anytime before Liverpool faces Everton next weekend.
Last throw of the dice?
The deal, if it goes through, would cost the owners a loss of 144 million pounds. Now that explains Hicks’ frustration, doesn’t it? Hicks and Gillet tried to sack the non-owner directors just before the deal was about to be agreed. In retrospect, Purslow and Ayre had blocked the owners from refinancing the debt before, so why did the Americans not fire them then? Why did they have to do it hours before the deal was about to be agreed? It’s not that difficult to understand that Hicks and Gillet were deprived of the capacity to remove the directors by RBS against the refinancing terms back in April. It was the last throw of the dice by Hicks, to provide himself with an outside chance at the court to save his money.
“You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away and know when to run.”
– Kenny Rogers
Martin Broughton claimed that it was the last chance for the owners to restore their dignity among the club faithfuls. It was time to ‘let go’, but unfortunately Tom Hicks has decided to move to the court in order to block the sale. There are varied opinions among the experts, whether the sale process was legitimate or not? However, the chairman insisted that before he took the office, Hicks and Gillet had signed the undertakings, promising not to block any moves regarding the sale of the club, which Broughton understood to be fair. He emphasized that only he has the right to remove or add anyone to the board of directors, and not the Americans.
It should be understood that Martin Broughton would not have exposed everyone at the club without proper consultation; and circumstantial evidence indicate that Tom Hicks and George Gillett’s bid to obstruct the takeover of Liverpool is likely to end in failure. However, even if Hicks is able to pull a coup from the court, its RBS which would like to have its money back come 15th October. If such a scenario does occur, RBS is most likely to relinquish control to NESV who have offered to clear all the acquisition debt.
No ransom for success…
New England Sports Ventures is a constorium of 17 investors with J W Henry being the principle owner. NESV are the owners of the Boston Red Sox, New England Sports Network, Fenway Sports Group and Rousch Fenway Racing. NESV has been voted as the best owners in Major League Baseball by Sports Illustrated and Sports Business Journal in 2009 and 2010. For the respite of Liverpool fans, during the nine years of association with Red Sox, NESV has never taken a dividend from the baseball club. Markably, Boston Red Sox won the championship after 86 years, 2 years after J W Henry took over the club. Martin Broughton clearly pointed out that the prospective owners edged out their competitors because of the experience they hold in dealing with franchise with a rich legacy as well as the winning mentality that they bring to the table.
What to Expect, and what not too?
Though the prospective owners look promising, the linchpin to success at Anfield is the financial muscle that NESV must have in order to build a new stadium. Although the deal includes a commitment of providing the club with a 60,000 seater stadium, its uncertain whether a new stadium would be brought up at Stanley Park or whether Anfield itself would be re-developed. The innovative approach taken by the CEO of Red Sox, Larry Lucchino in rebuilding Fenway park , the home of Red Sox since 1912 suggests that Anfield could soon have food-and-beverage-oriented roof decks and refurbished luxury suites.
NESV’s net worth stands at around 1.2 billion, a handful compared to the 20 billion-worth assets owned by the owners of Manchester City. J W Henry is not an Abramovich, but he understands the business of sports franchise and thats his forte. They have pledged to provide stability to the club and build the path for success in the long run.
This suggests that Liverpool may not exactly bid for Lionel Messi in the January window! However, going by the trend at the Red Sox, the youth academy at Liverpool would receive a definite precedence, and one should not expect quick-fix expensive signings to turn the tide around. The fact that Liverpool would not have to service its debt from the profits should make the club more competitive in the transfer market and hence, seek the best talent available.
Perhaps, it’s time for Liverpool supporters, to once again re-ignite the one thing they survive on. Hope.
**UPDATE (15th October 2010)**
Liverpool FC , in the last week, has apparently won more number of court cases than it has won Premier League matches this season. After a series of Court proceedings – from London to Dallas – the Liverpool FC board was finally able to conclude the sale of the club to NESV; this development would eventually end the infamous regime of Thomas Hicks and Gorge Gillet. Notably, the former owners have announced that they would apply all of their legal energies toward securing at least $1.6 billion, the amount that they expect to be paid in damages from the proposed illegal sale of the Liverpool Football Club.
Although the nerve wrecking ,off-the pitch, ownership battle has finally ended, the battle on the pitch, to qualify for the Champions’ League, restarts against Everton on Sunday.
Following are the quotes to sum up the most important day in the recent history of Liverpool FC –
As every Liverpool fan knows, the most nerve-racking way to win a match is by a penalty shootout. But in the end, as long as you get the right result, it’s worth the wait. We’ve got the right result.
We are committed first and foremost to winning. We have a history of winning, and today we want LFC supporters to know that this approach is what we intend to bring to this great club.
Our first step as new owners will be to listen. We want to hear from the manager and the players and those who are part of the daily operation of the club. We will be visible at Anfield and will embrace and listen to those who have stood by this club and who are the rock on which its future success will be built. We want to hear from the fans, local leaders and the local community. We want to hear from those who know LFC best, who have made it the best and share our desire to return to a culture of winning.