Early Doors

When will it end?

Early Doors

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"Thomas Ollis Hicks and George Nield Gillett; you have been found guilty of all charges brought against you. You will now be taken from this place and imprisoned, before being hanged by the neck until you are dead."

This was not one of the possible outcomes of yesterday's hearing at the High Court which saw Liverpool and RBS back in front of Mr Justice Floyd, but such is the intense focus and perceived magnitude of the case that you'd be forgiven for thinking it was.

However, the judge did his best to don a metaphorical black cap as he slammed Hicks and Gillett's ham-fisted attempts to block the club's sale to New England Sports Ventures with an injunction obtained in a Texas court.

Please forgive Early Doors if this reads like a direct cut-and-paste from Thursday, but we are pretty much back where we were at this time yesterday, except now the American Derek and Clive have got until 16:00 today to pull the restraining order.

It's easy to forget that the club are actually due to play a football match this weekend. That's right, a football match. You remember those, don't you? It's what happens in the Premier League in between court cases and tabloid scandals.

The news that World Cup-winning striker Fernando Torres has been declared fit to play at Everton on Sunday has almost been completely buried underneath all the legal wrangling.

Anyway, before rejecting the Texan court's claim of jurisdiction, Floyd said: "The owners' behaviour conclusively demonstrates just how incorrigible they are.

"They are absolutely determined to stop this transaction in its tracks and they have no lawful justification for behaving in this way."

However, Hicks and Gillett's hopes are still kicking as they dangle from the gallows. They go back up in front of Judge Jim Jordan (who, of course, has his own website) in the 160th District Court today at 13:00 UK time - just three hours before the High Court-imposed deadline for Liverpool to pay RBS the £240m owed - as they desperately bid to avoid losing tens of millions of pounds each. To paraphrase Les Dennis on Family Fortunes, if they have any chance at all then ED will give them the money itself. All $1.6 billion of it. Just to make it stop.

Reports that - should they fail in the Lone Star State - they plan to work their way through courtrooms in each of the other 49 are unconfirmed; but it would not be surprising. You almost have to admire their sheer brass neck.

John W Henry, head of NESV, is confident that the deal can finally go through, and this morning he said on Twitter: "We have a binding contract. Will fight Mill Hicks Gillett attempt to keep club today. Their last desperate attempt to entrench their regime."

Vexatious, abusive and preposterous are just a few words from the wide vocabulary exercised by the QCs acting for RBS and Liverpool in court yesterday, while laughter went around Court 18 when it was revealed Hicks and Gillett had no representation at the hearing, and were instead persisting with their action across the Atlantic.

As if all this business needed an added degree of farce, Peter Lim publicly withdrew his offer for the club.

After initially outbidding NESV during the first hearing on Tuesday, he then waited until they were back in front of the beak before announcing he was taking his ball and going home because the other boys weren't playing nice.

The whole thing has more than an air of opportunism about it. What a fantastic way for a South-East Asian entrepreneur to raise his international profile.

After the High Court carry-on involving Portsmouth's administration last season, these ridiculous affairs are in danger of becoming an annual occurrence.

All we can do is hope for some degree of closure to this case today, and pray that football doesn't return to the High Court for a long time.

Fat chance. As Liverpool's counsel Lord Grabiner put it: "If it wasn't so serious then it would be funny."

- - -

Mercifully then, this weekend sees a return to club action, and away from Merseyside the big story is that of Wayne Rooney being 'at war' with Alex Ferguson.

After Ferguson's repeated insistence that his star striker was continuing to suffer from an ankle injury, Rooney said after England's match with Montenegro on Tuesday that he has been fit all along.

And now England (and Arsenal) chief physio Gary Lewin has backed the player.

Lewin said: "We are in communication with the clubs every day so we knew what was going on with Wayne.

"I can only speak about the seven days he was with England and he trained every day and was fit for the game.

"'He had not played for Manchester United for two weeks before and what happened at United is between them and him. But when he arrived with us he was fit and available to play.

"Manchester United knew with the two weeks he had off and the treatment they were giving him that by the time he came to us he would be ready to train. And they were quite open with us about that.'"

Now, whether Rooney plays against West Brom on Saturday afternoon or not, much will be made of it. If Rooney plays, he will have shown his manager up as being wrong, the footballing equivalent of disproving papal infallibility.

If he doesn't start, then expect plenty of 'Roo in crisis' style headlines and those Real Madrid rumours to be cranked up a notch.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The allegation made by Danny Murphy was totally and utterly wrong as you can see by the facts we have given out. We are not dirty and we never go out to injure a player; I never send a player out to injure a player on the opposite side, we are too professional for that. In the disciplinary league table we are fourth, that's how good we are. People like Danny Murphy are giving a perception that's not true and I hate perception. There is far too much of it in the game, we should stick to reality. I was very, very angry indeed when I saw it. The players are very angry - was it brainless or mindless he said? An outrageous statement to make. They are very angry about that." - Sam Allardyce is more than a little irked by the Fulham captain naming Blackburn as a side that go out on to the pitch "fired up" by their manager. Of course, the disciplinary league table doesn't take into account things like El-Hadji Diouf charging hell for leather at Mark Schwarzer at every set piece.

FOREIGN VIEW: "After the unbelievable Robben case we expected them to calm down. It's better to shut up. We're fed up to the back teeth! (Van Bommel) actually has to think about who is his employer." - Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness vents his spleen after captain Mark van Bommel returned injured from international duty with the Netherlands. Dutch FA boss Bert van Oosteven responded: "It's antisocial to communicate in the press on this issue. It's bullying."

COMING UP: Video previews, match facts and team news for each of this weekend's Premier League fixtures. Plus Jim White, Paul Parker and the Armchair Pundit will all put in their two cents about the latest topics in the game.

But, before that, you can follow live coverage of the Shanghai Masters tennis.

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