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EPIC ANFIELD CLIMBDOWN FOR HICKS AND GILLETT; Nightmare for Reds is finally at an end.

Byline: ALAN WESTON

TOM HICKS and George Gillett did not receive a single penny in return for abandoning their bitterly-fought legal action over the takeover of Liverpool FC.

The ECHO can reveal the American pair sought a settlement after they lost their recent Court of Appeal bid to delay a High Court trial so they could have more time to meet the spiralling costs of the multi-million pound lawsuit.

The only "price" they exerted was their insistence on a strict confidentiality agreement to stop the details of their humiliating climbdown being made public.

This resulted in a bland, legalistic media statement being issued yesterday morning by all the parties involved in the case - Liverpool FC, RBS bank and the representatives for Hicks and Gillett.

The statement said that Hicks and Gillett had withdrawn all their claims and allegations against RBS bank and the club's former chairman Sir Martin Broughton, ex-managing director Christian Purslow, and then commercial director (now managing director) Ian Ayre.

It went on to say that all legal proceedings between the parties had now been "concluded." Hicks and Gillett brought the proceedings over the PS300m takeover of LFC by Bostonbased NESV - now the Fenway Sports Group - in October, 2010.

The American duo famously called the sale "an epic swindle at the hands of rogue corporate directors and their co-conspirators."

A source close to the case said of the settlement: "It all happened quite fast.

"The sequence of events speaks for itself. Hicks and Gillett got hammered in the Court of Appeal and withdrew their allegations.

"Everything points to them walking away unilaterally. If there had been a financial settlement, they would have trumpeted it."

The only one of the named parties to react to the news was Christian Purslow, who said: "I am delighted we can finally close this traumatic chapter in the history of Liverpool FC.

"I was brought in to fix the financial crisis at the club by leading the search for new owners, and that is precisely what I did.

"I would particularly like to thank Sir Martin Broughton for agreeing to come to our club to lead our board at a difficult time, all my fellow Liverpool supporters, members of LFC staff and the entire football family for their unwavering support and the solidarity shown to me during my time at Liverpool - especially over the past 21/2 years since I stepped down."

Reds fans reacted with joy at the news that marked the end of Hicks and Gillett's ill-fated six-year association with the club.

It proved one of the most turbulent in the Reds' history, marked by fans' protests and even a plan for supporters to put together a consortium to take over the club themselves.

Long before the end of their 31/2-year reign, Hicks and Gillett were regarded by fans with a hostility normally reserved for the Reds' great footballing rivals.

The fans' growing discontent revolved around three main issues - the inability to deliver a long-promised new stadium at Stanley Park, the failure to back thenmanager Rafa Benitez in the transfer market and, most significantly of all, the frightening levels of debt with which the club was being saddled. Such was the concern that - less than a year after Hicks and Gillett took over - fans organised themselves into a new group, the Sons of Shankly, later re-named Spirit of Shankly.

Spokesman James McKenna said yesterday: "It's a clear indication of how much damage Hicks and Gillett did to Liverpool FC in the time they were in charge that we are still talking about them, and will be for a while.

"They managed to nearly destroy a football club in three years and to take us from a Champions League final to the brink of administration. It takes a special type of bad owner to do that and we'll be living with the consequences of it for a long time.

"The one thing we can thank them for is that they brought fans together on the back of the ownership situation, which is why the Spirit of Shankly was formed in January, 2008.

"Supporters said enough was enough and we had to do something about it. It had got to the stage where the club was paying PS100,000 a day in interest repayments on the debt."

TIME TO MOVE ON... WHAT A YOU THINK OF TODAY'S A NEWS Anthony Heeley e , 25, Huyton: "It's ' taken k a long time but its good news e that we no longer have a to hear their claims and have a their name attached to Liverpool any more. r " Ross Alston, 18, Wallasey: e "We W shouldn't ' have a to hear from r them again, so this can only be good for Liverpool and the fans."

Simon Farrell r , 35, Liverpool City Centre: r "They e should tell us how much they' e ve been paid off, but at least it's ' over with and the end of the matter now. To be honest, I think everyone was just getting sick of still hearing their names so finally they e ca | ll move on."

Gary Whitlow o , 43, Speke: k "It's ' about time this was solved and all parties r can move on. They' e re now just a mere r dot in the history of our club to me. Eoghain McKane, 22, Liverpool City Centre: r "I'm glad to be rid of them. If I neve e r hear of them again, it will be too soon." Stuart Marsh, 31,Walton: "I'm happy p it's ' been done and dusted. I'd' like k to know how much money e we've had to stump up for them to go away, y but I suppose we'll neve e r know now."

CAPTION(S):

PROTEST: Fans made their views clear about the Hicks and Gillett era

DISPUTE: Hicks and Gillett argued against the sale of LFC

FORCED OUT: Tom Hicks and George Gillett put their heads together at Anfield during their disastrous time in charge of the club; and, right, Martin Broughton, left, Christian Purslow, centre, and Ian Ayre, right, leave the High Court after victory in October, 2010
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 12, 2013
Words:1020
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