Liverpool chief still confident of deal

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Liverpool remain confident of success in their High Court showdown with their American owners despite Tom Hicks denying he ceded control of the club to chairman Martin Broughton.

Hicks believes the deal to sell the club to New England Sports Ventures (NESV) for £300million is invalid as, minutes before the meeting to discuss the offer on Tuesday, he changed the make-up of the board - removing Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre and replacing them with his son Mack and Lori McCutcheon, who works for Hicks Holdings.

However, Broughton on Wednesday said Hicks had "flagrantly abused" undertakings, given to major creditors Royal Bank of Scotland when the sale process began, and added on Thursday: "When I took the role it was because George and Tom recognised the only way to move forward was to sell the entire club. They said if they sold the club they wouldn't have credibility, so I was to add credibility to the process."

But Hicks is determined to fight to the end and the dispute will be resolved in the High Court early next week. The ownership of the club is likely to be decided one way or another by a week on Friday as that is the date for repayment of the £237million RBS loan.

Should Liverpool lose in the High Court to Hicks and Gillett, and judging by Broughton's comments they feel that is highly unlikely, there is still the option of the bank - as the major creditors - calling in their debt and forcing the sale through to any party they feel meets their requirements.

Realistically that means NESV would still end up as the new owners, just by a slightly different process.

"NESV has been in serious discussion with us for some weeks, we've been to see them in Boston, London and Liverpool," said Broughton. "They've done their due diligence and they've recognised October 15 is the deadline to get their bid in. They could have put [their bid] in on October 14 to pressure the bank, but they've chosen to do it now.

"RBS has played a big role in this, working alongside us.

"I am confident we will prevail, but you can never be 100% when you go to court. We will be seeking a judgment that we acted within our rights. They tried to remove Ian and Christian, and after taking legal advice I told them that was invalid. I think we'll get there, but I can't make a promise.

"If the case goes against us, we do have a fallback position, but we're not prepared to discuss this at present."

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