Premier League on Liverpool’s takeover

Premier League chief Richard Scudamore has admitted that the Premier League has little power to stop a Hicks and Gillett style situation happening at a club again.

All new owners of Premier League clubs must pass a due diligence test before being allowed to take over the club to help prevent any more clubs going into administration, like Portsmouth last season.

But Scudamore says the likes of Liverpool’s former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett would pass the tests.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live, “They passed our tests then and they would pass our current tests in terms of them as individuals.”

Scudamore added Liverpool were never in any danger during the sales process which saw them eventually being sold to New England Sports Ventures last week.

He added, “I’m satisfied the takeover went as smoothly as it could have done. It was inevitable the change of ownership was going to happen and fairly inevitable it would be tense at the end but the club was never at risk. There were a number of bidders and the outcome is what always likely to happen.

“Liverpool is a fantastic club, and despite their recent struggles they have been able to attract new owners. We all must hope that these owners will go on and do a good job there.

“I’ve spent considerable time with the new owners and I have huge regard for them. They understand this is about about the fans feeling part of the club again and they understand about sport.

“They are the first to say they don’t know everything about English football but as we have seen by their work with the Boston Red Sox, they know how to turn a fantastic club into a sporting success.”

Scuadmore also offered hope for the future for Premier League clubs with his prediction that leveraged buyouts – such as what Hicks and Gillett did with Liverpool – would unlikely happen again now that the banks have tightened up on loaning.

“The world has moved on and that sort of borrowing versus that sort of asset is not available anymore and could not be obtained now to put a deal together.

“If we deem the level of leverage is too high and therefore the business to be unsustainable, we have much more power now to either prevent that happening or apply stringent controls on the club.

“It would be very difficult to stop leveraged buy-outs. I would prefer not to see it but we have to live in the real world.

“Leveraged debt per se is not wrong but things around it like the terms and the short nature of it need to be tightened.”