Just when Liverpool fans thought they’d seen the back of them

Liverpool’s start to the new season has not been all smooth running, but there is an air of optimism around Anfield that has been swelling up ever since ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish returned again, to the delight of the Liverpool faithful, in January. Dalglish’s three-year deal, signed in May, underlines the support placed in him by Fenway Sports Group owner John W. Henry, who is himself approaching one year in control of the club.

In that time, there have been significant changes to Liverpool’s playing staff, as well. Andy Carroll, Luis Suarez, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, Sebastien Coates and Craig Bellamy (on loan) have come in; gone are a raft of Roy Hodgson signings, including Paul Konchesky and Christian Poulsen, as well as the relics of older regimes – Emiliano Insua, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Philipp Degen. Add to that the defection of both Fernando Torres and Raul Meireles to Chelsea, and you have a veritable whirlwind of income and expenditure. I pity Liverpool’s accountants this past summer.

These are all positive moves as far as Dalglish’s aim of more expansive, attacking football is concerned, and many of the new recruits have made strong starts to their Anfield careers. Henry, too, is surely popular right now as he provides funds for one big signing after another. Henry can be assured that he’ll never walk alone, though, for an unsavoury reason – he is followed everywhere by the spectres of owners past.

Amid all the positivity buzzing around Liverpool right now (especially those who write off the thrashing by Spurs as an aberration),  and with one of the biggest fixtures of the year looming this weekend with the trip across Stanley Park to Everton, Liverpool are still pursued in the courts by the disgraced and ousted George Gillett and Tom Hicks, the ‘Little and Large’ pairing who couldn’t even sustain a personal relationship while they were co-owning the club.

I’m sure Liverpool fans remember the consequences: little money to spend, constant uncertainty over the club’s future, the two men trying to buy each other out, and finally, Hicks attempting to remove directors Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre when they voted in favour of the NESV (now FSG) takeover.

Back in the courts again this week, Hicks and Gillett have succeeded in securing the right to prosecute Liverpool Football Club for an amount Hicks estimates to be up to £1 billion for the “epic swindle” that drove them out of Anfield (not that they were ever there much). Somehow he believes that  they were still the rightful owners of the club, even after Henry’s finances rescued Liverpool from £250 million of debt and his takeover bid was approved by the board, hence Hicks’ last-ditch attempt to remove two of the three directors and leave himself and Gillett with a majority.

The case was thrown out of American courts in February, but the pair have now secured the rights to prosecute here in the English courts. The case is expected to begin soon, but is highly unlikely to reach a conclusion any time soon.
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