Football

Reds owners go back to Dallas court

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Liverpool again moved to the brink of new ownership after a High Court judge dismissed an injunction preventing the sale of the club.

However, with Tom Hicks and George Gillett's lawyers requesting a hearing with a judge in Texas on Thursday evening, the end of the saga was still a long way from being concluded.

For the second time in just over 24 hours the club's independent directors - chairman Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre - were given the go-ahead by Mr Justice Floyd to complete a £300million deal with New England Sports Ventures (NESV).

On Wednesday night a hastily-convened board meeting ended in resolve to go through with the sale to the owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise. John W Henry, the head of NESV, even turned up at the meeting at the offices of legal firm Slaughter and May on Wednesday night anticipating a conclusion. He returned there on Thursday night.

Hicks and Gillett on Wednesday night informed the England-based directors they had attained a temporary restraining order preventing the sale going ahead. And, after a second successive defeat in the High Court, the American duo have instructed their legal team to return to the 160th District Court in Dallas for another hearing with Judge Jim Jordan.

Royal Bank of Scotland, the club's major creditors who are due to be repaid £240million on Friday, returned to the High Court on Thursday for a ruling on jurisdiction and were given the answer they required.

Mr Justice Floyd, in granting an anti-suit injunction in a bid to nullify decisions taken in the court in Dallas, was scathing in his remarks about the American co-owners' "unconscionable" conduct. The judge said his mandatory orders were not aimed at the Texas court but Hicks and Gillett to stop them taking further action there.

David Chivers QC, who told the judge that his clients NESV already considered themselves the new owners of Liverpool, asked the judge for a speedy serving of his orders on Hicks and Gillett so the deal with NESV can be completed and money transferred from the US.

He said if the deal was not completed on Friday, then Hicks and Gillett had succeeded in stopping the sale of Liverpool before repayment of the debt to RBS became due.

Mr Justice Floyd gave Hicks and Gillett until 4pm on Friday to comply with his orders, making his decision on Thursday rather than Friday morning because there "is a degree of urgency to allow the club's board to control its own affairs".

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Football
Premier League
Liverpool
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