Liverpool's owners secure 'outrageous' Texas order
Liverpool FC's American owners were accused of "outrageous" behaviour today after they thwarted High Court orders allowing the club to be sold.
Mr Justice Floyd had given a ruling in London yesterday that meant the English directors of Liverpool could agree a £300 m takeover by John W Henry's New England Sport Group.
But before the board could make any decision last night, Tom Hicks, one of the American owners, secured a temporary restraining order from a Texas court.
Mr Justice Floyd had totally rejected attempts by Mr Hicks and George Gillett to stand in the way of the sale in a ruling which should have left them helpless to intervene.
Both the Liverpool board and NESV believed a deal could be reached last night but the last ditch intervention by the American owners meant more court action was necessary.
The Royal Bank of Scotland, the club's main creditor, had won the injunctions yesterday that would have meant they would be paid back a £200m loan which becomes due for settlement tomorrow.
RBS returned to the High Court this afternoon seeking anti-suit injunctions to nullify decisions taken in the court in Dallas.
Richard Snowden QC, for the bank, said there were no legal representatives for Hicks and Gillett in court today although they had been informed of the latest move.
Mr Snowden said they had been forced to act because of "extraordinary events" following the High Court ruling.
He said the American owners had complied with the orders to restore the original directors of the Liverpool board but at the same time had launched a US action.
"About five minutes before before the board was due to commence the meeting at 1830 hours, solicitors for the companies were informed that relief had been obtained from a judge in Texas, purportedly on behalf of the three English companies (which control Liverpool).
"The Texas court seems to have been told remarkably little about the proceedings in this court."
He said the US court had also allowed an injunction to stop RBS exercising its right to recall its loan.
"This is the most outrageous abuse of process."
He said Hicks and Gillett had agreed for the sale process to continue in compliance with the order of the High Court and then they had taken action in the US in defiance Mr Justice Floyd's "clearly expressed intention".
"The proceedings in Texas are plainly inappropriate. This dispute involves an English football club and three English companies and has no connection with Texas other than that Hicks and Gillett may reside there.
"It is a plain attempt to frustrate and impede the proceedings."
He said the American owners had made "scurrilous allegations" against RBS in the Texas court which had no basis in fact.
Mr Snowden said granting anti-suit injunctions always ran the risk of an affront to a foreign court.
"But it is apparent the US judge himself was aware that what he was being asked to do might cause some ruffling of feathers in this jurisdiction."