Liverpool’s board said Wednesday it had agreed the 300-million-pound (475-million-dollar) deal with New England Sports Ventures but co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett claim to have sacked two directors to halt the sale.
A legal battle for control seems inevitable after Hicks told BBC radio he was determined to pursue the matter through the courts.
The Liverpool board consisting of Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre outvoted Hicks and Gillett in agreeing the sale.
However, in an effort to keep control of the side, Hicks and Gillett have claimed they have replaced Purslow and Ayre with Hicks’ son Mack and Lori Kay McCutcheon, a senior executive of Hicks’ company.
The current owners claim that the move gives them a majority on the board and therefore the ability to block any sale.
However, Broughton has stated that the American duo do not have the power to change the composition of the board.
When asked about the takeover, Hicks replied in an e-mail to BBC radio: “We legally reconstituted the board and the board does not approve of this transaction.”
Asked how he and Gillett could block the move, Hicks added: “We have removed Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre.”
Hicks and Gillett believe the deal with New England Sports Ventures (NESV) substantially undervalues the five-time European champions and would see the pair lose 140 million pounds if it goes through.
The battle for control is likely to go to the High Court in London next week.
If the court rules in favour of Hicks and Gillett then they still have to meet an October 15 deadline set by the Royal Bank of Scotland to repay loans of 240 million pounds and 40 million pounds of fees they are owed.
Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has welcomed news of the planned sale after months of uncertainty about the future ownership of the club, which is languishing in the bottom three of the Premier League.
“It’s very positive and of course I’m delighted,” he said. “It’s been going on a long time and I know how hard the board have worked to set things up.
“I know it’s not easy for them because the owners have other ideas in terms of the sale of the club and what is achievable.
“But I was delighted to hear the news and have it confirmed that it looks like it is going to go through.”