(WFI) Liverpool today announced that the board has agreed the sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures, owners of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox team.
“I am delighted that we have been able to successfully conclude the sale process which has been thorough and extensive,” club chairman Martin Broughton said in a statement on Liverpool’s website.
“The board decided to accept NESV’s proposal on the basis that it best met the criteria we set out originally for a suitable new owner.
“NESV’s philosophy is all about winning and they have fully demonstrated that at Red Sox.
“We’ve met them in Boston, London and Liverpool over several weeks and I am immensely impressed with what they have achieved and with their vision for Liverpool Football Club.
Broughton added: “By removing the burden of acquisition debt, this offer allows us to focus on investment in the team.
“I am only disappointed that the owners [Tom Hicks and George Gillett] have tried everything to prevent the deal from happening and that we need to go through legal proceedings in order to complete the sale.”
The takeover would make Red Sox principal owner John Henry a key figure in the new-look Liverpool boardroom.
Liverpool confirmed that the takeover was subject to resolution of a legal dispute with their current American owners Hicks and Gillett and on Premier League approval.
Today’s development followed an announcement by Liverpool on Tuesday that they had received two new bids – “excellent financial offers” from NESV and another from Asia – which would wipe out the club’s approximate debt.
Liverpool must repay or refinance about £280m in loans to Royal Bank of Scotland by Oct. 15.
Hicks and Gillett value the club at £600m and are opposed to a sale which would leave them with little from the proceeds.
Yesterday, Hicks and Gillett failed in their attempt to sack Liverpool’s managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre to retain control of the club.
The US owners, who bought the club in 2007 and have since invested more than $270 million in the club, said in a statement that the bids “dramatically undervalue the club”. They insisted they would not go without a fight and are looking for a “fair price that reflects the very significant investment we’ve made”.
New England Sports Ventures currently owns a portfolio of companies including the Boston Red Sox, New England Sports Network, Fenway Sports Group and Rousch Fenway Racing.
NESV’s John Henry is reported to be a popular man among Red Sox fans. After taking over the club in a $690 million buyout in 2002, he helped the team win baseball’s World Series in 2004 for the first time since 1918. They won it again in 2007.
Henry invested heavily in renovating the storied Fenway Park, the oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, and has turned the Red Sox into one of North American sports most profitable franchises.
Liverpool fans will be hoping the 61-year-old billionaire can now work his magic on the crisis-hit Reds, who currently lie third from bottom of the Premier League with just six points from seven games.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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