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Liverpool agree settlement with Tom Hicks and George Gillett over sale of club in 2010

Updated: Friday, 11 Jan 2013 13:40 | Comments

The terms of the settlement that involves Hicks and Gillett is confidential
The terms of the settlement that involves Hicks and Gillett is confidential

Liverpool have agreed an out-of-court settlement with former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett over the sale of the club in 2010.

The Americans were unhappy with the way a sale to Fenway Sports Group (then New England Sports Ventures) was concluded by Martin Broughton, Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre, who were respectively Liverpool chairman, managing director and commercial director at the time.

Hicks and Gillett subsequently made a number of claims and allegations against the trio, which were all denied, and resulted in legal proceedings.

However, all parties have come to a confidential agreement which has resulted in all allegations being withdrawn and the court case being concluded.  

Hicks and Gillett came under increasing pressure from creditors Royal Bank of Scotland to expedite the sale of the club in 2010 and Broughton was brought in to lead the process.

However, when he, Purslow and Ayre outvoted Hicks and Gillett on the decision to sell to FSG the Americans tried to reconstitute the board and sack Purslow and Ayre.

That failed as Hicks and Gillett were deemed to be in breach of an agreement with RBS which permitted Broughton to lead the sale process and make decisions as to the composition of the boards.

In the spring of 2012 Hicks and Gillett took their case against Broughton, Purslow and Ayre - and RBS - to court, alleging that they conspired to sell the club at a reduced price.

They claimed RBS and the Liverpool directors had deliberately blocked their attempts to refinance, allegations denied by RBS.

But after a lengthy and involved process led by Liverpool's general counsel Natalie Wignall, a deal has been struck to bring an end to the legal action against Broughton, Purslow and Ayre.

The status of Hicks and Gillett's case against RBS - whom the Americans claim were too actively involved in the sale process - remains unclear and no one at the bank was immediately available for comment.

At a High Court hearing in October Mr Justice Peter Smith said it was a matter which ought to go to trial.

"There is in my mind a question as to whether or not RBS truly distanced itself from the sale process," he said.

"In reality, what actually happened between April 2010 and October 2010 can only be discerned by a trial when the relevant players give evidence and their evidence is tested by cross-examination in the light of the contemporaneous documents.

"In my view, it would be wrong and a denial of justice potentially at this preliminary stage to deny the former owners an opportunity to have a trial on this issue.

"This matter should be brought to a speedy conclusion.

"I would wish directions to be agreed if possible with a view to this action... being heard early in 2013." 

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