Will John W. Henry be denied Liverpool FC?
For most football clubs, the fight on the pitch is more important than what goes on behind the scenes in the boardroom. But for Liverpool FC, it is the fights in the boardroom that have become crucial for their survival.
So when it was understood that there were two "credible" bids, one from John W Henry, the multi-millionaire owner of the Boston Red Sox Major League Baseball team and the other from business interests in Asia to buy the debt-ridden club off the current American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, everyone should have breathed a collective sigh of relief.
However, this set the stage for another low for a club that has always prided itself on keeping internal matters private. The boardroom war between the American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett and the three other directors came into the full public view when an official statement from Liverpool said the board was preparing to approve the sale. However, Hicks and Gillett sought to block that decision by ousting the managing director, Christian Purslow, and commercial director, Ian Ayre, and appointing instead Hicks's son and a close ally.
Hicks and Gillett both reiterated "commitment to finding a buyer" but said that they will not accept bids which, in their view, "dramatically undervalue" the club, which they say had nearly doubled its revenues since they took over.
What this whole mess most likely means is that while both the offers commit to clearing the £237m Liverpool owes Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia (which is due for repayment in nine days' time), they were not prepared to give Hicks and Gillett much for their shares.
Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton thinks that the attempt by the club's owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to block the sale of the club to John W Henry's New England Sports Ventures group by changing the board, is a "flagrant abuse" of "written undertakings" and that he is the only person entitled to do such a thing.Continued on the next page