Ex-Liverpool owners await court ruling

Updated: February 16, 2011, 12:25 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LONDON -- A British judge will rule Thursday whether Liverpool's former American owners can sue in the United States over the enforced sale of the soccer club to the Boston Red Sox ownership group.

Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. claim that an "epic swindle" by Liverpool directors and the club's lenders led to a cut-price sale of $476 million to New England Sports Ventures.

The former owners' legal team argued in London's High Court last week that an order preventing them from pursuing damages outside Britain or the European Union should be lifted.

The "anti-suit" order was issued in October to stop Hicks and Gillett from pursuing a case in Texas that would have prevented the sale to John Henry's NESV.

Lawyers for Royal Bank of Scotland and the former club directors who sanctioned the sale argue that Hicks and Gillett cannot sue in the U.S. because the owners' nationality is the only connection to the country, highlighting that Liverpool is an English club.

Justice Christopher Floyd will also rule Thursday whether Martin Broughton, the former club chairman, can seek damages against Hicks over public accusations against him. RBS also applied to the court for orders which would block Hicks and Gillett from suing over the sale.

Hicks and Gillett were forced to put the club up for sale in April after struggling to meet the repayments resulting from their 2007 leveraged takeover.

Debts had reached $380 million to $450 million, depending on the estimate, at the time of the sale. Hicks and Gillett want damages for the losses they incurred as a result of the buyout.

Hicks currently owns the NHL's Dallas Stars.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.