THIRD BIDDER IN LIVERPOOL FIGHT

AMERICAN hedge fund Mill Financial has emerged as a third bidder for Liverpool FC as the High Court prepares to rule on the bitter war over the football club’s ownership this morning.

Mill Financial’s offer includes the promise to repay the £200m owed by Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to the Royal Bank of Scotland, the court heard yesterday.

Unlike rival bidders New England Sports Ventures (NESV) and Asian billionaire Peter Lim, however, Mill Financial has pledged to invest an additional £100m for building a new stadium, lawyers for Hicks and Gillett said.

Paul Garolami QC, for Hicks and Gillett, added that he understood the hedge fund remained interested in buying the club, and questioned why its bid had been rejected by the Liverpool board.

The development came as Singaporean former stockbroker Lim announced he had made an increased offer of £320m, having seen his initial bid rejected by chairman Martin Broughton and the board, who struck a deal with NESV.

Both Mill Financial and Lim will be eagerly awaiting the judgement from Mr Justice Floyd at 10.30am, in which he will decide whether Liverpool’s board had the right to agree a £300m sale to NESV last week against the wishes of Hicks and Gillett. His verdict follows almost five hours of legal arguments played out in a fraught, historic hearing inside Court 16 of the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday.

If Mr Floyd rules against Americans Hicks and Gillett, who have become hate figures among the fans, then Liverpool’s legal team are confident the sale will proceed. But if Hicks and Gillett win the case, brought by RBS not Liverpool, they will be entitled to change the composition of the board, as they have tried to do, and consider other bids. That would then force RBS to decide if it is ready to call in its loan, which has a deadline of Friday, and put the owners into administration, which could incur the club a nine-point penalty from the Premier League.

Arguing that a victory for RBS, and by extension the Liverpool board, might deprive Hicks and Gillett of a better offer, Mr Garolami QC said that the board had not given due consideration to bids other than NESV’s.

In response, Liverpool’s legal team said that both Mill Financial’s offer and Lim’s initial bid had both been “significantly” lower than the terms offered by NESV, owners of baseball’s Boston Red Sox.