SBJ/May 20-26, 2013/Law and Politics

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  • Plaintiff in lawsuit over Liverpool purchase seeks documents from Fenway Sports Group

    The owner of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Sports Group, has been able to stay out of the years-long controversy and lawsuits sparked by its 2010 purchase of Liverpool FC — until last week.

    Mill Financial, a former lender to Liverpool, asked a New York state court on Monday to launch legal proceedings to force the ownership group (known at the time as New England Sports Ventures) to turn over all documents related to its acquisition of the fabled British club. Mill in 2011 sued another team lender, Royal Bank of Scotland, contending RBS orchestrated a below-market sale of the club that left Mill with nothing.

    “NESV … has in its possession, custody or control documents regarding RBS, LFC, and others, related to the sale of LFC, including, but not limited to, the bidding process, board approval and the purchase price, that will bear on Mill’s claims against RBS,” Mill said in court papers filed in New York State Supreme Court.

    Ex-Liverpool owner Tom Hicks
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    Mill is also asking the New York court to get Texas courts to compel former Liverpool owner Tom Hicks to turn over all his documents related to the case. Hicks, who lives in Texas, and his co-owner, George Gillett, brought lawsuits similar to Mill’s in British courts to no avail.

    The Mill request does not name the Boston group as a defendant in the case, and the Liverpool/Red Sox owner has never been accused of the alleged dealings of which Mill accuses RBS.

    Fenway Sports Group officials did not respond for comment by press time.

    Mill, RBS and Wachovia (bought later by Wells Fargo) were lenders to Hicks and Gillett when they owned Liverpool. In early 2010, the three lenders agreed to work collaboratively to deal with the owners in the wake of default on the debt.

    But RBS, according to Mill, violated the agreement and arranged a sale at a below-market amount to the Boston-based ownership group. Mill contends it wanted to offer a superior amount for the club but was denied the chance. It is seeking the $70 million principal of its loan, interest and damages.

    Mill also is asking the New York judge, Eileen Bransten, to compel RBS to quicken its pace of document production, claiming RBS is purposefully slowing down the process.

    RBS had requested all document discovery be stayed while a second request it has filed to have the case dismissed is reviewed. Bransten turned down most of the first request last year.

    The court’s protocols are for document discovery to occur even during the period a judge is considering a motion to dismiss.

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