Liverpool owner Tom Hicks' baseball team auctioned off

By Bill Wilson
Business reporter, BBC News

Image caption,
The Tom Hicks Group bought the Rangers in 1998

The Texas Rangers baseball team owned by Liverpool FC co-owner Tom Hicks has been auctioned off for $593m (£374m).

It came after Mr Hicks' ownership group defaulted on loans, with the sale being finalised in a US bankruptcy court.

The franchise has been sold to a group led by Hall of Fame pitcher and Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan and Pittsburgh lawyer Chuck Greenberg.

Liverpool FC is the subject of a number of potential bids, including from China, which the club is assessing.

Mr Hicks and his co-owner George Gillett have not been popular owners at Anfield, with fans regularly calling for them to sell the football team.

'Very pleased'

The Ryan and Greenberg bid for the Rangers, made up of $385m in cash and $208m in assumed liabilities, had the backing of Major League Baseball (MLB).

They saw off a rival bid from National Basketball Association team owner Mark Cuban and Houston freight-forwarding executive Jim Crane.

"I'm very pleased and I look forward to Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan leading the team for many years to come," said MLB president Bob DuPuy outside the Fort Worth, Texas, courtroom.

Image caption,
The sale was approved by Major League Baseball

The Rangers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May.

According to the team's bankruptcy plan, which has yet to be discussed by the court, creditors will reportedly get about $47m of the $330m owed to them.

The Hicks Sports Group had owned the Rangers owners since 1998.

The Rangers were owned by a group led by former US President George W Bush in the early 1990s before he became governor of Texas.

Hall of Fame pitcher Ryan's total of 5,714 strikeouts in his 27-year career with Texas, the New York Mets, California Angels and Houston Astros is a major league record.

As well as having ownership interests in two of Houston's minor league affiliates, Mr Ryan took over as the Rangers' club president in 2008 and will continue in that role.

Mr Greenberg, who owns two minor league teams himself, is set to take over as managing general partner and chief executive officer.

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