Fans pack the courtroom for most important fixture of season
Published 13/10/2010 | 05:00
Never mind Liverpool's owners, whoever they turn out to be, building a new Anfield. If resolving the club's future takes up much more legal time the Royal Courts of Justice will require a new annexe to cope.
Yesterday it played host to Liverpool's most important fixture of this or any recent season, and the club brought bedlam with them.
One of the treasures of the British legal system is its accessibility. Justice has to be seen to be done, and yesterday beneath the vaulted Gothic ceiling of Court 16, that principle was tested to the limit.
From the public gallery to the well of the court, it was packed. Supporters in replica shirts brushed shoulders with £1,000-an-hour briefs and reporters jostled for space alongside solicitors carting boxes of documentation.
Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton and managing director Christian Purslow did find room to sit down as proceedings began, but only in the cheap seats alongside reporters and law students.
If the Kopites present were expecting a straight answer or much in the way of drama, they were disappointed.
This was law in action, the fate of the club stripped of the emotion that has turned into soap opera. It was over four hours before anyone even mentioned football.
Liverpool's future was argued by a total of five barristers, all of them Queen's Counsel and all earning the bar equivalent of Premier League wages.
Lined up along the front row of the court they sat, metres ticking, and one-by-one set out their clients' positions.
David Sutherland QC began for RBS with a simple summation of their position.
Tom Hicks and George Gillett breached their contractual obligations, open and shut.
If only. In response Paul Girolami QC weaved the prettiest of patterns on behalf of Hicks and Gillett, winding down the clock to lunch like the cutest of centre-halves as he insisted that the board had not accepted the best offer.
Occasionally he raised the spectre of administration, which hovers over this case like a nuclear deterrent. It would deliver mutually assured destruction to all parties, but that did not stop them occasionally raising its spectre to enhance an argument.
In between Lord Grabiner QC, the most august brief present, harrumphed. His elegant afternoon intervention may well have swung the case RBS's way. If so, the supporters will thank him for it, assuming they can get in this morning. (© Daily Telegraph, London)