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Posted by Tom Adams on 10/15/2010

Liverpool fans celebrate in the reception of Slaughter and May. © Getty Images

Watching reporters and Liverpool fans alike bundle into the reception of law firm Slaughter and May’s London offices to hear John W Henry and Martin Broughton announce the sale of Liverpool Football Club to NESV on Friday, there was just one prevailing feeling: relief.

Relief that a club of the stature of Liverpool had been prised from the hands of a poisonous regime that, until the very bitter end, attempted to hold onto it to their own ends; relief that a passionate legion of supporters had avoided seeing their club plunge to any further depths; and, most of all, relief that one of the most interminable sagas ever to afflict English football had finally come to an end.

To be a Liverpool supporter over the past week has been a truly tortuous experience. Scousers, and reporters if truth be told, not possessed of a degree in corporate or international law have been bewildered by an array of legal terms - declaratory judgements, injunctions, temporary restraining orders. It’s enough to make you feel like a bumbling, incompetent Lionel Hutz.

Of course, the nightmare may not be over yet. In a matter befitting of Dr Evil, Tom Hicks has raised his little finger to his mouth, arched an eyebrow and declared he wants $1.6 billion in damages. The temptation to react like Austin Powers’ U.N. and burst out laughing would be tempting if it were not so serious.

But this is not how the destiny of a football club should be decided; the fate of a team should be determined on the pitch, not in the courtroom. The very fact that the future of one of England’s great sporting institutions was at one point dependent on a court ruling in Texas tells you all you need to know about the farcical situation that Hicks and Gillett forced Liverpool into.

Seeing football placed on the altar of the legal system does the sport no favours; it’s like seeing your pet puppy flattened by an articulated lorry, or your favourite band announce a new experimental direction by appropriating the musical styling of Justin Bieber. In short, it’s just plain wrong - the two worlds should never co-exist.

And when Liverpool fans burst into the reception of a top law firm and serenade a corporate chairman with chants of “We love you Martin, we do”, all that is left to ask is: How did it come to this?

Let’s just call the whole sorry episode a morality tale for modern football.

Sunday’s Merseyside derby will ensure the focus finally, slowly switches back to football. It’s time to swap law suits for tracksuits, and what a relief that will be for everyone.

Comments

Posted by Dustin on 10/15/2010

Hicks and Gilett put 144M pounds into Liverpool, and in the end both themselves and RBS wanted their money back. Now you have another group (American at that) putting 300M into the club... what will happen when they want their money back? This is all talk before a new stadium (further debt) and player wages. I don't feel like any problems have been solved... only perhaps they've shifted the debt onto a company who has hopefully more patience than the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Posted by Alex on 10/15/2010

Phenomenal recap, Tom. As a huge Liverpool fan, it's a relief that this is finally over and to say that the legalese in this case was mind boggling would be an understatement.

Also, glad you're a Simpsons fan.

Posted by rhyno on 10/15/2010

it was very frustrating to see my team drag through the mud by hicks and gillet i jump for joy when i saw them out of an-field now the players can be settle and get back to winning ways so I'll see them on Sunday when they beat everton

Posted by otownballer3 on 10/15/2010

"The very fact that the future of one of England’s great sporting institutions was at one point dependent on a court ruling in Texas tells you all you need to know about the farcical situation that Hicks and Gillett forced Liverpool into."

Mr. Adams, I think that you're wrong in thinking that foreign jurisdictions ruling on the ownership rights of English sports teams is farce. Rather, it is to be expected with foreign ownership. So long as Premier League teams seek out foreign wealth (many with extremely shady backgrounds), similar legal wranglings will only continue. Liverpool's experience is probably the beginning of an era.

Posted by Corey on 10/15/2010

I couldn't agree more. I'm not a Liverpool fan, but what has happened to it over the past few years has been a real shame for such a legendary club. Unloading world-class players (or not being able to hold onto players) like Xabi Alonso, Masherano, and a much needed striker like Keane, with no equivalent replacements coming in, has really negatively affected things on the pitch. Whether this has been the fault of Rafa, Hicks and co., or the players themselves I have no idea (probably a combination of all three). However, now with a new owner, new coach, and the unwilling to stay players long gone, hopefully this will be the start of a new beginning for the team. But also hopefully these changes haven't come too late. I fear if Liverpool doesn't have at least a top 6 (even possibly a top 4) finish, it may be difficult to hold on to the top players they have next year, never mind bringing new world class players in. Anyways, congrats Liverpool fans, best of luck to the future!

Posted by Chelsea Bill on 10/15/2010

Good news about the Chilean miners being brought back to the surface. Unfortunately the company now face a more Daunting task. They are off to Anfield to try and rescue Liverpool out of an even deeper hole !

Posted by Sammy on 10/15/2010

I'm really happen. at least we can heave a sire of relief and be proud that this could be about the only real positive change to have occured at the club in recent years. I am very hopeful of our return to greatness once more.

Posted by Thomas on 10/15/2010

Tom, an informative blog post but I have to disagree. I am a law student in the US and appreciate the role law plays in every social institution, including sport. While the law is confusing to the lay person, it serves a crucial role in promoting justice. Here, with Liverpool, justice is served when the High Court issued an equitable injunction, and the Texas judge likely would realize that the restraining order was improper for lack of jurisdiction and comity. While law and sport should not often interfere with each other, law ensures that sport can go on and benefit the players, clubs and fans (for example, without contract law, how will players get paid?). The legal system here stepped in for the good of sport.

Posted by Ryan on 10/15/2010

"Sunday’s Merseyside derby will ensure the focus finally, slowly switches back to football. It’s time to swap law suits for tracksuits, and what a relief that will be for everyone."

No it won't. The televised coverage on any station, be it Sky, ESPN, BBC, whatever, will begin with the words "court case." Even the programmes at Goodison will mention it. Don't try to pretend otherwise.

Posted by Peter Tan on 10/15/2010

As a supporter of LFC for over 30 years since the days of Kevin Keegan and John Toshack, I am extremely relieved to see that this dramatic saga has been finally resolved and that LFC has avoided the risk of administration.LFC which is still the greatest FC in Britain will now be able to focus on achiving winning habbits and restore itself to the great glory days of Bob Paisley , foundation of which was laid by the great Bob Shankly.Well done to LFC and and to its supporters, never give up and you WILL NOT WALK ALONE.

Posted by Gerald Obai on 10/15/2010

As a very passionate fan whose friends here in Uganda all know is a die hard liverpool fan, the events of the past week have left even rival fans sympathetic towards me. Couldnt imagine my beloved club being muddied further by the evils who are Hicks and Gillet.

Long live liverpool!

Posted by Bassam on 10/15/2010

It is time for us to speak football, and ONLY football. H&G in my opinion should just die in anger that they have lost, we won't care, the dragging they put us ALL though shouldn't have happened to one of Europe's biggest clubs!

We can dream now, cause simply achievements are possible once more!

YNWA

Posted by Ted in Australia on 10/15/2010

Wow, how close to failure did it get!!!
Thank goodness we can get back to football alone rather than watch our club spiralling towards total failure both on and off the pitch.
Come on Roy and all the playing staff, lets get the club up soon and confirm the faith of all the supporters who will never walk alone!!!

Posted by Richard on 10/15/2010

sadly from this united fan's stand point i can see this happing to us within five years or less given either this or administration.

Posted by Rafic Habib on 10/16/2010

i agree completely with your comment.i am so reliefed my self like all the liverpool fans and waiting for the most important game on sunday.

Posted by Michael Zicco on 10/16/2010

Yes Adam, what a relief!! I have this residual fear that we might, in desperation, have traded like-for-like. The proof of better times will come in hard dollar investments in the playing squad and the stadium. Hopefully this is not another leveraged buyout that will mortgage future earnings and current players.

As they say, don't the gift horse in the mouth. I can at least rest easy until the Sunday derby.

Posted by Zokky on 10/16/2010

New owners,thats great. More money to spend on players and a new stadium, lets wait and see.
As we all celebrated the 2005 Champions League and 2006 FA Cup, i agree with Hicks/Gillet when they say Rafa played a big part in the demise of LFC. LFC spent plenty of cash on players but the majority of players brought in were not upto LFC level. 40million pounds on Keane and Aquilani and we saw nothing in return. That money could have easily been spent on Sneijder, Van der Vaart and Huntalaar when they all wanted out of Madrid. Milito and Pandev could have been bought for the same amount and Aguero and Podolski the same. If the right players were purchased we wouldnt be having this problem but unfortuantely we see fit to blame the owners for loading the club up with debt. That was the wrong thing to do but if we had of won titles with the proper players everything would have been perfect and the club wouldnt be played out in the media like an episode of Days of our Lives.

Posted by Jack Davidson on 10/16/2010

As a Liverpool fan its nice to view new owners in place.
I do believe though that poor spending on bad players by Rafa was a key to the clubs poor results this year and last. Look at all the great young talent that Manchester United have purchased over the past few years. This is the way to go. You also need a strong base of English kids to give you grit and toughness.
Good luck to the new owners.

Posted by Marc T on 10/16/2010

As a lifelong Liverpool fan and a diehard Red Sox fan I could'nt be happier with the new change of ownership. If they put the same effort into Liverool as they did in Boston, we can look forward to many years of competitive success and a possible championship!

Posted by Lawyer Gabatsalelwe on 10/16/2010

Its a great relieve that the manager will now focus on the field. Little worries about club financial situation. May the derby be the turning point for good things to come. Long live LFC. Long live The Spirit of Shankly!

Posted by ANDREW NSUBUGA on 10/16/2010

Relief, Downhere in Uganda being a strong Fan of LFC. i believe the best is to come for us.

Lets get more quality to supplement Gerrard, Torres,Carragher,Kuyt, Raul, Glen,

lets get a stronger bench.No room for regrets

i love , talk , speak, dress LFC all the way.

can you please send me a Jersey??? Being one of the strongest supporters .

Please get me Gerrard, Torress, Cara and GJ personal emails and contacts.

Andrew.

Posted by Mike Johnson on 10/16/2010

Puppies and articulated lorries? Pop groups? A story as big as this cried out for a comment by someone who knows how to write. This is rubbish.

Posted by mr fitri on 10/16/2010

welldone Liverpool. My everlasting favourite club.. Thanks to the "Almighty Creator" you've give us the strenght and saved the club. Alhamdulillah, the storm have stopped n just waiting for the sun rise again... For all this happened is to give a good lesson for the all board members and whole club. We r from far here always prays for the club going success and forever success!! you'll never walk alone Liverpool. You are always in my heart.

Sibu.

Posted by Cameron McDonald on 10/16/2010

Has there ever been more pulseless owners in football? The fact these greedy heartless idiots were prepared to let the club go into administration so they could boost their ego is astounding. I only feel sorry for the clubs they still own. These two people are jokes

Posted by glen gaffney on 10/16/2010

now a lot of legalities has been cleared up now its time the 100000 pound players responded. in a culture of non accountability its time to do there talking on the pitch.most of the performances have been woefull week in and week out. if these players were in the nhl hockey league they would be in the minors.

Posted by mickeysoo on 10/16/2010

The off the field trial might have ended but what about on it.if the players are going to learn how to pass the ball to each other and show the determination and grit that we saw our two idiots showed when they realized they were going home 144million pounds lighter then we are not going to have any more problems.I am tempted to believe in people who say that roy needs time but one thing that has never been a luxury at LFC is time.Good mangers dont take a team with players like torres,gerrard,reina,agger,meireless,joe cloel languishing at the bottom of the table.we ve had one of our worst and Roy is still yet to find his best team and positions for his players.Can anyone believe he said he dont know where to play meireless?If he can do better but needs a kick to his backside then why not give to him now.things are pathetic with LFC now and starting frmo the derby if he still refuses to win then we dont have any choice but to sack him.i know that is not the LFC way but that is long gone

Posted by dora the explorer on 10/16/2010

why don't people check their spelling before clicking the post button?

Posted by MAYO on 10/16/2010

All in all we have got ride of the first enemy of the kops life to exist as the only royal football club in UK . I do`t know what 2 say more but thinks 2 God, let us see what this comes with ALWAYS AKOP and never walk alone.

Posted by Niyi on 10/16/2010

The Sale went ahead despite the fact that the owners do not want to sell. The club was technically in administration and that's why RBS could force the sale. Should Liverpool not have nine points deducted? Its good that the club has been bought but where is the fairness to other clubs who are under the same rules on insolvency?
Expect a lot of litigations at the end of the season.

Posted by Roger on 10/16/2010

while i am elated that my beloved LFC can move on, i am also concious that the new owners still has a long way to show us what their intentions are......we are just at the start of a new journey and i hope that the path is not similiar to what the 2 jackass have gotten us to.....

YNWA

Posted by John Willoughby on 10/16/2010

Thank goodness for the equable injunction!
I have to reply to Tom, the law student in the US with another Simpsons' quote.

"Thank God for lawyers, where would we be wthout them?
You know, if there's one thing this country needs, it's more lawyers...."

Posted by Peter Middleton on 10/16/2010

Among all the comments re Liverpool was one from Richard ('sadly from this united fan's stand point i can see this happing to us within five years or less given either this or administration')

I share this Man United supporter's concern - the debt loaded onto this club requires a level of success on the field that is always anticipated by life-long supporters - but is likely unrealistic to expect on a continual basis.

What happens at Old Trafford if they drop out of the top-5 for a couple of years while undergoing a team re-building process??? Yes, even our beloved Man U can falter - remember the 1970's after the break-up of the Law-Best-Charlton dynasty!!

I hope for the best - and got great enjoyment taking my son to his first game at OT last year while visiting UK - but fear the worst because of current ownership/debt structure.

I now also support (from a long distance) FC United of Manchester - the sense of community reminds me of OT long ago!!

Posted by Rory Stoddart on 10/16/2010

Sadly folks, I am old enough to remember the long periods of dominance that we had... Not a Cup or Trophy now and then, but things every year... And when not winning we were second, something like 1st or 2nd in everything for over 30 years !

Yes, MU have been dominant over the last 20 years, but they have not been as dominant in Europe like we were... We were the best around, in any country, we were feared by AC, Real, Inter and Ajax, for many many years !

To get that back will take a long time and a lot of money and patience... So I hope these new Dudes understand that our place is at the top, and that until we get there "talk is cheap" !

YNWA.... RS

Posted by knighthood5 on 10/16/2010

now the off-field problem solved, let see Liverpool on the field vs Everton. Sunday will see if Roy & the players have winning mentality.

Posted by Jackie Shroff on 10/16/2010

Tom Hicks & Gilett gave $300 million pounds to Rafa who squandered the money with mediocre players like Lucas, aquilani, robbie keane, and kept underperforming players like ngog, babel, maxi rodrigues.....martin broughton(the diehard CHELSEA fan) is being praised like a saviour but liverpool fans forget that he was the one who sanctioned benitez to make those bad buys...he brushed aside a legend like dalgish to hand the manager to a wally like hodgson who still does not have a clue on how to manage this team.....martin broughton also brushed aside offers from billionaires in dubai and singapore to sell the club back to another american consortium.....and tom hicks & gillett get booed even after giving $300 million of their fortune to benitez....the players never performed on the pitch....and get paid millions...no one is up against that ? Shame on every single liverpool fan who thinks martin brougton a diehard CHELSEA fans has the best interests for liverpool....new owners ? hahaha

Posted by kumar on 10/17/2010

you will never walk alone...........NESV should bring world class top players to liverpool. And get rid of under-rated players like johnson, kuyt,lucas,ryan,sotirios,ngog n etc.....

Posted by ali on 10/17/2010

come on you reds

YNWA

Posted by patrick on 10/17/2010

im a lfc fan from Nigeria, i just hope that my club will start doing great things like we use to see them do before, i think we need to go up there again where we use to be. up up up liverpool.

Posted by sun meesook on 10/29/2010

I;m love liverpool one of the word

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