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It's official: NESV acquires Liverpool FC

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  October 15, 2010 10:56 AM

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John Henry (left) and Liverpool FC chairman Martin Broughton shake hands at a law office in London after Henry completed a deal for his New England Sports Ventures group to buy the Premier League soccer team. (Lennart Preiss/Associated Press)

The sale of the Liverpool FC soccer team to a group led by Red Sox owner John Henry has been completed.

"Champagne has been popped," said Globe reporter Stan Grossfeld, who was in the law offices in London when the deal became official.

The deal is for $476 million, and transfers the club from former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. to New England Sports Ventures, which also owns the Boston Red Sox, Roush Fenway Racing and New England Sports Network. The agreement was completed after Hicks and Gillett Jr. withdrew the temporary restraining order they had obtained in a Texas court. However, Hicks termed the deal an "extraordinary swindle," and said he would file a lawsuit for $1.6 billion in damages.

"I am proud and humbled," Henry was quoted by London's Telegraph newspaper on its web site. "We have a lot of work to do [but] we are here to win."

Here's the text of a statement issued by NESV and Liverpool FC

New England Sports Ventures (NESV) today announces that it has completed the purchase of Liverpool Football Club. NESV wishes to extend its sincere gratitude to the Board of Liverpool FC for their diligence and their efforts on behalf of the Club and its supporters.

The transaction values the Club at £300m and eliminates all of the acquisition debt placed on LFC by its previous owners, reducing the Club’s debt servicing obligations from £25m-£30m a year to £2m-£3m.

New England Sports Ventures is committed to winning and currently owns a portfolio of companies, including the Boston Red Sox, New England Sports Network, Fenway Sports Group and Roush Fenway Racing.

NESV Principal Owner John Henry said:
“On behalf of the entire NESV partnership, I want to express how incredibly proud and humbled we are to be confirmed as the new owners of Liverpool FC. We regard our role as that of stewards for the Club with a primary focus on returning the Club to greatness on and off the field for the long-term. We are committed first and foremost to winning. We have a history of winning, and today we want LFC supporters to know that this approach is what we intend to bring to this great Club.”

Liverpool FC Chairman Martin Broughton, said:
“I am delighted that we have been able to successfully conclude the sale process which has been thorough and extensive. The Board decided to accept NESV’s offer on the basis that it best met the criteria we set out originally for a new owner. NESV is buying Liverpool in order to put it on an excellent financial footing and continue to develop it internationally. This is a good deal which comprehensively resolves the pressing issue of the Club’s debt and should give staff, players and fans great confidence regarding the future of Liverpool FC.”

NESV Chairman Thomas Werner said:
“We recognize that Liverpool Football Club is an historic institution ultimately grounded in the community and the fans. Our first step as new owners will be to listen. We want to hear from the Manager and the players and those who are part of the daily operation of the Club. We will be visible at Anfield and will embrace and listen to those who have stood by this Club and who are the rock on which its future success will be built. We want to hear from the fans, local leaders and the local community. We want to hear from those who know LFC best, who have made it the best and share our desire to return to a culture of winning.”

NESV is committed to creating a long-term, financially strong foundation for the Club and dedicated to ensuring the Club has the financial resources to be successful again and attract the best players. To that end, the transaction has been structured in such a way as to eliminate all of the acquisition debt on the Club.

In the coming days and months, NESV will work closely with the LFC executive team to listen and learn about every facet of the organization. During this time, the new owners will begin to look at areas for greatest opportunity to increase the appeal of the Club nationally and internationally. NESV wants to once again create a culture and environment to allow people to excel at the Club on every front. During this period, NESV will also begin to examine opportunities to enhance the matchday experience in the short-term, while also carefully studying the various long-term options that may be possible.

Mr Henry and Mr Werner added:
“We are eager to commence with our plan, spend time with the organization, its leadership, its supporters, and the local communities. We will take these steps alongside the Club’s executives with a shared objective of stabilizing the Club and ultimately returning Liverpool FC to its rightful place in English and European football, successful and competing for trophies.”

Liverpool is off to its worst start to a season since 1953 and faces relegation from the English Premier's League's top division.

(Information from The Associated Press was included.)

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