Court battle imminent for Liverpool

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The battle for the ownership of Liverpool will begin in London's High Court after it was confirmed proceedings are scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

Royal Bank of Scotland, the club's major creditors after lending owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett the money to buy the club back in March 2007, have submitted an application to the court.

Royal Bank of Scotland PLC v Hicks & others is among a number of cases to be heard by Mr Justice Floyd at 1030.

The dispute to be settled revolves around whether chairman Martin Broughton has the authority to sell the club to New England Sports Ventures (NESV) - with whom a £300million deal has been agreed - against the wishes of Hicks and Gillett.

Broughton claims when the owners decided to put the club up for sale in April RBS requested undertakings from them that only he, as independent chairman, could make changes to the club's board.

That was to prevent the two Americans blocking any sale as the format of the board meant Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre could outvote the Hicks and Gillett three to two.

However, minutes before a meeting last week to discuss the bid by NESV, which will clear all debt but leave the owners with losses of £144million, Hicks tried to sack Purslow and Ayre and install his son, Mack, and Lori McCutcheon, who works for Hicks Holdings.

Broughton rejected the proposal and continued with the meeting, with the England-based board members coming down in favour of the NESV bid. Hicks, however, has denied there are such undertakings in place, insists Broughton's actions were illegal and therefore the sale is invalid.

As the issue of who has the necessary authority to agree a sale forms the crux of the legal argument, proof of the existence or not of those undertakings is likely to be pivotal. For that reason it is RBS who have lodged the application and not the club, effectively Liverpool's board.

Tuesday's court appearance is likely just to be the start of proceedings, with a full hearing expected to follow.

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