So much for an eight o'clock meeting and a quick move towards rubber stamping NESV's ownership of the club. With Henry in London and the court case earlier today, I was really in quite a good mood about things. But of course Hicks is a desperate, despicable bastard.
And he's filed an injunction with a Texas court to prevent the sale, talking the whole thing up as a massive conspiracy against him and a swindle by the RBS. The court date isn't until the 25th, long after the RBS can call in the debt, but he just can't let go and is taking the same arguments that failed him today in England back across the Atlantic to try again. Maybe. Things aren't entirely clear, but I'll try to update if/when news becomes available.
**to start/innitial "update"** How exactly a Dallas court has jurisdiction over an English football club with Kop Holdings also registered in London and the debt held by the RBS is anybody's fucking clue, but The Dallas Observer has the run down, including chunks of the release from Hicks that came along with this news:
The suit lays out the defendants' "epic swindle" in which they conspired to devise and execute a scheme to sell LFC to NESV at a price they know to be hundreds of millions of dollars below true market value (and well below Forbes magazine's recent independent $822 million valuation of the club) -- and below multiple expressions of interest and offers to buy either the club in its entirety or make minority investments (including Meriton and Mill Financial). It describes how the defendants excluded the owners from meetings, discussions and communications regarding the potential sale to NESV and interfered with efforts by the owners to obtain financing for Liverpool FC.
Seems the deranged man is going to try to drag things out again. Also, don't forget that the Guardian (as always) is liveblogging events.
**update** The Telegraph speculates:
The jurisdiction of the Texas order in the UK was not immediately clear, but sources said the impact of the action could be to put RBS, which has considerable US interests, Broughton, through his role as BA chairman, and NESV in contempt of a US Court.
So the Dallas court may have absolutely no jurisdiction--and that would mean that the judge who granted the restraining order to prevent the sale would be fully aware that his court had zero jurisdiction over the case--but it could be a lawsuit and argument accepted by the court because Hicks wants to employ a chilling effect to derail the sale.
Wow, that doesn't sound shady at all. Not one little bit. A judge pulling some strings to help out a local millionaire even in the full knowledge the restraining order has no legal leg to stand on based on the facts involved. Seems like the sort of thing you'd expect in a bought-and-paid for third-world "justice" system. So is this where I'm supposed to make a joke about Texas courts liking to hand out the death penalty to those with, um, mental disabilities?
**update** The essential Tariq Panja tweets:
Hicks's lawyer on phone claimed jurisdiction based on damage done to a Texas corporation and bcos Broughton, RBS and NESV do biz in Texas
Oh, okay, so it's not completely spurious, just ridiculously tenuous. Well that's fine then. So much for me having an "And now the hard work begins" post lined up and ready to be tweaked and fired off five minutes after things were wrapped up tonight.
Guardian, unsurprisingly, passes along LFC board's view that Hicks' actions are "'unwarranted' and 'damaging,'" and that they'll seek to have the restraining order removed.
**Midnight in London, 6PM in Dallas update** Joel passes along this reading of the situation in the comments:
I would think that the prior adjudication would bar any claims on this issue, as this is what would happen under US law: once you've had the chance to raise compulsory counterclaims (which this would likely be classed as), and they have not been raised, you're barred from raising them later."
Seems reasonable, though it still seems bizarre that a Dallas court would grant the restraining order in the first place. And it makes it even harder to believe this is anything but a stalling tactic, which given the results in English high court earlier today makes Hicks' end game mystifying. The BBC, meanwhile, thinks that if the LFC board can get the restraining order overturned on Thursday the sale would be pushed through in a matter of hours. So, same time tomorrow?
Not sure how much more can come along at this time of night, but I'll keep an eye on things just in case. In the meantime, I'll pass along the board's statement in full as posted on the suddenly feisty official website:
Following the successful conclusion of High Court proceedings today, the Boards of Directors of Kop Football and Kop Holdings met tonight and resolved to complete the sale of Liverpool FC to New England Sports Ventures.
Regretably, Thomas Hicks and George Gillett have tonight obtained a Temporary Restraining Order from a Texas District Court against the independent directors, Royal Bank of Scotland PLC and NESV to prevent the transaction being completed.
The independent directors consider the restraining order to be unwarranted and damaging and will move as swiftly as possible to seek to have it removed.
A further statement will be made in due course.
**3AM in Prague, 6PM in Seattle update** Looks like that's about it for new news today. Again, for anybody not checking the comments, Joel's doing a great job picking apart some of the legal issues at hand here and you should probably be keeping an eye on the comment sections. Key pulls for me are:
Paragraph 80 [of the document filed by Hicks' legal team with the Dallas court] was especially interesting: they stated they have no adequate remedy at law to halt the sale as of Oct. 15 in the UK. This is clearly false, unless they have already applied for appeal and were denied, which I don't believe they have done. It looks to me like they have at least grossly understated the extent of the UK proceedings, if not flatly misrepresented them. Or, it's possible that the judge is clueless regarding international law issues. Frankly, I'm surprised this TRO was granted....
If I were a betting man, I'd stake a year's pay on this TRO getting lifted as soon as there is a hearing. The real issue is trying to get the hearing moved up from the current date of Oct 25.
Again, many thanks for the time and effort Joel's put into giving us a more informed view of what's going on. At the end of the day, then, the big question is what Hicks thinks he gains here. Is it a case of wildly throwing things against the wall and hoping something will stick? Or does he see a possible positive outcome for himself if he can manage to drag things out just a little while longer?
Maybe he's just being petty, or maybe he's just desperate, but it does seem as though he's putting a great deal of effort into giving himself just a little more time. And that's frightening.