As long-running, meandering Scouse soap operas go, Brookside probably still takes the cake – but the continuing saga of upheaval and betrayal within the corridors of power at Liverpool Football Club runs it a close second.
This afternoon brings with it the news that the High Court in London has granted injunctions against Liverpool current owner’s Tom Hicks and George Gillett that could feasibly pave the way for New England Sports Ventures (NESV) to buy the club as planned, before the deadline for settling their debts with creditors Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) passes on Friday.
As a result of the injunctions decreed by presiding judge Justice Christopher Lloyd, the English contingent of Liverpool’s interim board will know be allowed to resume executive power and, along with RBS, be granted permission to facilitate the sale of the club against the wishes of Hicks and Gillett.
RBS brought the legal action, claiming that Hicks and Gillett had severely breached ‘contractual undertakings’ when they attempted to block the proposed sale to NESV by sacking members of the Liverpool board. The fact that Justice Floyd accepted RBS’s claim means that chairman Broughton can and will now reinstate the previously ostracised Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre.
Speaking outside the court after the ruling was passed late this morning, Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton confirmed that he and the rest of the board would now be focusing entirely on ensuring that the club is sold in time to stave off administration;
“We will have a full board meeting this evening once board has been reconstituted and proceed with the sale process.
We’re delighted with the result, justice has been done. That’s what we came for and that’s what we got. We have a great future.”
The aforementioned meeting is tentatively scheduled for 8pm this evening, with the main aim being to attempt to finalise the sale of the club to NESV.
Whereas this morning’s developments can only be construed as positive, Liverpool supporters shouldn’t regard them as ‘definitive’ just yet.
Despite Justice Lloyd declining to grant Hicks and Gillett the opportunity to appeal his verdict on the grounds that any contention would be ‘inappropriate’ in the circumstances as it would ‘risk stopping the sale and purchase agreement going ahead’, there is still an avenue open to the American pair via the court of appeal.
Should an appeal be forthcoming (however frivolous and ill-advised it may be), the sale of Liverpool to NSEV would be stalled once again, with the likelihood being that a resolution wouldn’t be found before the Friday deadline that RBS have put in place. It’s a remote, but possibly critical fly in the ointment.
So where now for our beleaguered protagonists? If it truly were a soap opera then, statistically speaking, one cast member would die in a fiery ball of grievously twisted Vauxhall, another would succumb to a crippling recreational drug habit and there may even be a phantom pregnancy to mull over – but sadly we are dealing with the much more prosaic world of corporate dealings.
As is, the Liverpool board will simply reconvene tonight (a meeting that Broughton insists Hicks and Gillett are ‘clearly invited’ to) and hopefully confirm the sale of the club to NSEV, who’s £300 million offer has already been cleared and accepted by Broughton – thus bringing about a new dawn (of sorts) at a club that has been shrouded in darkness for far too long.
However, if there’s one thing I’ve garnered from following the Liverpool saga of late, it’s that things are very rarely ‘that simple’.