Liverpool appoint lawyers in Dallas to overturn injunction as Broughton tells fans: 'Keep the faith'
Published 09:39 14/10/10 By David Maddock
Liverpool's board and RBS will move swiftly this morning to overturn a restraining order in a Texas court preventing them from selling the club.
The Mirror understands measures have already been taken by legal representatives of the parties involved in the sale, to overturn attempts by owner Tom Hicks to retain control of the club.
And we have learnt that New England Sports Venture (NESV), who have a binding agreement to buy Liverpool for £300million, will not walk away from the deal, despite these desperate efforts to stop the sale by the Texan businessman.
They have confirmed this morning they are prepared to wait as long as it takes to become the next owner of the Premier League football club, after the board agreed the sale in a meeting in London last night.
Hicks and his partner George Gillett obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) in the Texas State District Court, preventing a sale until a full case – in which they allege a major fraud by RBS, calling it an 'epic swindle' – can be heard on October 25.
Hicks is claiming damages of $1.6billion in his lawsuit, but Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton insisted this morning that the claims are scurrilous, and the club would act quickly to remove them.
In a message to Liverpool fans, Broughton said: “They are trying every trick in the book, but keep the faith, we are trying to overturn this and we always remain confident.”
The Mirror understands Liverpool have already appointed lawyers in Dallas this morning to file a counter claim in the Dallas court as soon as business begins there, moving to have the restraining order removed.
They have also made a request as a matter of urgency for a lifting in the High Court in London to obtain an injunction overturning the lawsuit in the UK too.
Their case will revolve around jurisdiction. Legal experts are lining up to suggest that the case Hicks filed yesterday is flimsy, and the question of the jurisdiction of the Texas court over proceedings that have already been considered by the High Court in London is key to dismissing it.
They will make a strong legal argument that the case should not be heard in Texas or anywhere else in the US.
They will also present evidence that Hicks and Gillett have offered written undertakings in contracts signed with the RBS that ensures the ‘legal forum’ of any dispute will be held in the English courts. That effectively means they can not sue in the US.
The judge who granted the TRO has already expressed his unease with jurisdiction over the case, and after reviewing documents, he made clear that the claims made by Hicks were not backed by any substantial evidence.
This suggests Judge Jim Jordan, who will be the first to consider Liverpool’s move to strike the TRO, could well reverse his decision as soon as the case is heard. If not, then it will be moved to a higher United States State Court, which would be expected to respect the decision of the High Court.
Yesterday, Broughton and RBS won a ruling in the High Court allowing them to proceed with the sale, and Hicks was warned that it would be “inappropriate” to appeal.
If, as seems likely, the TRO is lifted this afternoon when the Texas District Court sits, then Broughton will act quickly to see the sale through to New England Sports Ventures, the owners of the Boston Red Sox.
The main shareholder of NESV, John W Henry, has confirmed this morning that he will not walk away from the deal, despite these desperate delaying tactics from Hicks.
He is ready to wait for the TRO to be lifted, even if the process takes longer than expected, and the RBS have indicated they too are ready to wait, to ensure that the £300million sale goes through.
Sources close to the club suggest that the sale should still be completed by this evening, but even if there are yet more delays by the increasingly desperate Hicks, the sale will go through.
There is a fear though, that the Texan has something else up his sleeve. He has been in talks with Dwight Schar, the owner of Mill Financial who now have a stake in Liverpool after Gillett had defaulted on loans to them.
The worry is that Hicks will borrow money from Mill Financial to repay the more than £200million loans to RBS that are due to be repaid on Friday. If the bank recalls those loans then Hicks, with help from Schar – the co-owner of Washington Redskins - can repay them and reclaim jurisdiction over the club.
The Mirror understands though, that RBS will wait before calling in the loans, to give time for the TRO to be lifted in the Texan court, allowing the sale to NESV to be ushered through.