Business

Liverpool FC: Is administration the rational next step?

BBC business editor Robert Peston on the Liverpool takeover

I'm about to disappear into an edit suite for a bit, to concentrate on matters other than Liverpool FC (yes, there is other stuff happening in the world - although nothing as absurd).

So this is where I think we are.

RBS is beginning to have doubts whether the £200m-plus from Mill Financial will turn up - and my contacts with Mr Hicks's people suggest that may well be a rational fear. No-one seems to believe that the high court will have any effect on the ability of Mr Hicks to frustrate the sale to NESV through the Texas courts.

What does that all mean? Well, I think it means that we're in a bit of the corporate universe characterised by what statisticians would call Knightian uncertainty. To put it another way, I have no bloomin' idea where this will end up.

One plugged-in bloke tells me NESV can't possibly win it now. Another whom I trust tells me NESV will ultimately emerge the victor.

What I think is that Royal Bank of Scotland has a hideous decision later today.

If there's no serious prospect of a clean takeover of Liverpool being effected in the next day or so, can it really justify extending the deadline for repayment of the bank debt?

Or is it now rational for RBS to put Liverpool FC into administration under insolvency procedures, so that it can take direct control of the sale process, strip Messrs Hicks and Gillett of any power to interfere, and pass Liverpool to the most credible new owner with the deepest pockets (which might be NESV, or might still be the Singapore tycoon, Peter Lim)?

Update, 1432: Peter Lim says he is withdrawing his offer to buy Liverpool, because it has become clear to him (he says) that "the board is intent on selling the club to NESV to the exclusion of all other parties, regardless of the merits of their bids".

He says that if the "circumstances" were to change, he might be persuaded to re-enter the fray.

Update 1749: OK, maybe Liverpool is back on course to be bought by NESV.

The high court has ordered Tom Hicks to withdraw the restraining order on the deal which he obtained from a Texas court.

He has until 1600 tomorrow (UK time) to comply.

Liverpool's management seems optimistic that - at last - the ownership uncertainty will be resolved in the way it wants.

But Mr Broughton and his colleagues have thought that before, and been disappointed.‬‪

You can keep up with the latest from business editor Robert Peston by visiting his blog on the BBC News website.

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