Liverpool owners dismay chairman

Martin Broughton: 'I'm the chairman, I have the casting vote'

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton is disappointed club owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks are not backing a bid from the Boston Red Sox owners.

The takeover by the New England Sports Ventures [NESV] requires resolution of a legal dispute with the pair.

It is understood the two think the approach undervalues the club.

Mr Broughton told BBC business editor Robert Peston that "at the last moment when it does not pay them enough, they have chosen not to do it [sell]".

'Good guys'

"I think it is a great pity that at the end of an exhaustive process that has been seeking a competitive bid, that they are not going to take the last opportunity to be the 'good guys' and pass over Liverpool to the right owners," he said.

"That is what they promised to do, what they said all along they would do."

In an effort to block any sale and keep control of the club, the owners tried to replace managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre with Mr Hicks's son, Mack Hicks, and Lori Kay McCutcheon, a vice-president at Hicks Holdings.

Mr Broughton, as well as Mr Purslow and Mr Ayre, are now consulting lawyers over whether they can resist the owners' attempts to replace them and force through a sale.

Former BA executive Mr Broughton was brought on board by Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett earlier this year at Anfield to find a buyer.

He told our business editor he "understood their [Hicks and Gillett's] disappointment" that they were not going to get their money back.

In fact, they may have to write off about £140m if a reported sale of about £300m goes through.

'Serious'

Mr Broughton also said the refusal to sell represented "one last throw of the dice" that could leave a "negative legacy" and "a very bad taste".

He also said that unlike the current owners, the proposed new owners did not take part in "leveraged" buy-outs funded by borrowing.

Start Quote

They [NESV] understand that winning on the field helps them win off the field, it makes their investment more attractive”

End Quote Martin Broughton Liverpool FC chairman

"They [New England Sports Ventures] are not leverage people," Mr Broughton said.

He added that NESV was a "serious investor" made up of "serious investors", who ran a number of sports ventures.

"If you look at Boston Red Sox, they have taken a team which was a major traditional team, previously successful team, not at its peak, and resuscitated it to be a winner," Mr Broughton said, saying NESV was "all about winning".

"They understand that winning on the field helps them win off the field, it makes their investment more attractive. They have a track record to deliver, to prove it."

One of the continuing frustrations for fans under the current ownership has been the lack of progress on a new stadium.

Stadium question

The restricted capacity of Anfield has meant it has been unable to compete with the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal on match-day revenues.

"They have got a commitment to stadium development," said Mr Broughton.

"They want to look at all of the options... they want to bottom out, which is the best thing to do."

The Liverpool chairman said the NESV had both built and renovated sports stadiums in the US.

And he said that whether the new owners went for a new arena or an upgrade of Anfield, "there will be a stadium for 60,000 or more people".

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