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Boston Red Sox owner to buy Liverpool Football Club

By the CNN Wire Staff
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U.S. company to buy top English club
  • The sale is conditional on approval by the Premier League
  • A dispute about board membership must also be resolved first
  • The amount of the sale wasn't immediately disclosed

London, England (CNN) -- Liverpool Football Club, one of England's most prestigious teams, announced Wednesday that its board has agreed to sell the team to New England Sports Ventures, the company that owns baseball's Boston Red Sox.

The sale is conditional on approval from the Premier League, to which Liverpool belongs; resolution of a dispute about board membership; and other matters, Liverpool said.

The offer from NESV was one of two the club said Tuesday it had received to repay its long-term debt. It had called a board meeting Tuesday to review the bids and approve a sale.

The amount of the sale wasn't immediately disclosed, but the size of the debt is reported to be between 250 million and 280 million pounds ($397 million and $445 million).

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Liverpool, which has a huge fan base around the world, is currently owned by two Americans, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. They took out loans in the club's name to buy it in February 2007.

But as Liverpool's position in the English Premier League has slipped, the owners have become targets for angry fans. Liverpool failed to qualify for this season's lucrative European Champions' League and the team is currently 18th out of 20 in the English league after seven matches -- the worst start to a season for decades.

Liverpool Chairman Martin Broughton said the board had met with NESV representatives over the past several weeks in Boston, London and Liverpool. He praised the company's vision for the English team.

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"NESV's philosophy is all about winning and they have fully demonstrated that at Red Sox," Broughton said.

He revealed problems the board has had with Hicks and Gillett, saying the pair tried "everything" to prevent the sale.

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NESV's philosophy is all about winning and they have fully demonstrated that at Red Sox.
--Liverpool Chairman Martin Broughton

"By removing the burden of acquisition debt, this offer allows us to focus on investment in the team. I am only disappointed that the owners have tried everything to prevent the deal from happening and that we need to go through legal proceedings in order to complete the sale," Broughton said.

History of Liverpool in images

Before Tuesday's meeting, the two owners sought to remove two board members and replace them with Mack Hicks -- reported by the Liverpool Echo to be Tom Hicks' son -- and Lori Kay McCutcheon, whom the newspaper said is vice president and financial controller of Hicks Holdings.

The second bidder was from Asia but is not linked to Kenny Huang, who led a Chinese consortium interested in investing in Liverpool this summer, the Echo reported.

CNN's Nicky Robertson in Atlanta, Georgia, contributed to this report.