- Associated Press - Friday, October 15, 2010

LONDON (AP) - As the bitter fight over Liverpool prepared to resume in a Texas court, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry vowed Friday to fight a “last desperate attempt” by the owners to hang onto the Premier League club and block his takeover.

The 300 million pound ($476 million) sale to Henry’s New England Sports Ventures hinges on a court ruling in Dallas on Friday. Liverpool needs the court to lift a restraining order obtained by owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. stopping the deal.

But before the hearing, Henry indicated that he fears a late intervention from American hedge fund Mill Financial could help Hicks and Gillett Jr. prevent the sale to NESV.

“We have a binding contract,” Henry posted on Twitter. “Will fight Mill Hicks Gillett attempt to keep club today. Their last desperate attempt to entrench their regime.”

Mill Financial has technically already taken control of Gillett’s 50 percent stake after he defaulted on the loan used to fund his part of the leveraged takeover in 2007.

It was revealed in a High Court hearing in London earlier this week that Mill Financial itself is interested in taking over the club, offering to repay more than 280 million pounds of debt to Royal Bank of Scotland by Friday’s nominal deadline to meet those liabilities and penalty charges.

But NESV could go to the High Court to enforce the binding agreement it has already signed with the three English board members who can outvote Hicks and Gillett 3-2.

Hicks and Gillett argue the Boston bid drastically undervalues the club. A state court judge in Texas on Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order blocking the sale to NESV, though whether he has the authority to do so is in dispute.

British High Court judge Christopher Floyd responded Thursday by saying the Texas action must be dropped by 4 p.m. London time (10 a.m. in Dallas), or Hicks and Gillett would be in contempt of court.

“We are nearly there,” Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton said late Thursday. “We still have to take away the restraining order … Mr. Henry is (still) very committed.”

At a hearing in Dallas, NESV lawyers argued Liverpool was headed for default on its debt _ and a possible nine-point penalty in the Premier League standings _ if Texas District Judge Jim Jordan didn’t decide by 10:01 a.m. London time Friday (5:01 a.m. EDT). Jordan resisted the urging of NESV attorneys to rule immediately on their request to lift the TRO.

In London, NESV lawyer David Chivers said the sale would go through once the Texas case is withdrawn.

“We are the owners (of Liverpool),” Chivers told the High Court. “The owners from beyond the grave are seeking to exercise with their dead hand a continuing grip on this company.”

The British judge said the legal action in Texas amounted to “unconscionable conduct on the part of Mr. Hicks and Mr. Gillett.”

“This case has no real connection to Texas,” Floyd said.

Amid the takeover turmoil, Liverpool, an 18-time English league champion, is currently mired in the relegation zone after its worst start to a league season since 1953.


Associated Press Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed to this report.



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