Liverpool have no guarantee that debt will not be loaded on to the club

• New owner not asked for written pledge
• Henry emails Guardian to explain details of deal

Liverpool's chairman, Martin Broughton, and former managing director Christian Purslow did not ask John W Henry, the new owner, for written guarantees not to load his costs of taking over Liverpool on to the club, it has emerged. Broughton and Purslow, a spokesman said, took the view that such a commitment would not be strictly legally enforceable, but were assured by Henry, and his 16 partners in New England Sports Ventures, that they would not burden the club with their "acquisition costs".

In a detailed email Henry sent to the Guardian answering questions about the takeover, he confirmed that approach, saying he has paid off the £200m "acquisition debt" loaded on to Liverpool by previous owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. The only debt which Liverpool now owe, Henry said, is £37m to Royal Bank of Scotland for development work on the proposed new stadium, which NESV is now reviewing. "The simplest thing to say is that we removed all debt but the stadium debt," Henry wrote. "LFC is not servicing debt other than stadium debt."

He explained that NESV does not intend to extract money from Liverpool, as Hicks and Gillett did, to service its own costs of buying the club, and said Broughton and Purslow never asked for such a commitment in writing.

The spokesman for Broughton and Purslow, who voted to sell the club to NESV based largely on Henry's assurance that no "acquisition debt" would be loaded on the club, said they had not asked for written guarantees because such future commitments are not strictly legally enforceable. Hicks and Gillett said in their own official offer document when buying the club in February 2007 that the payment of interest on their £200m borrowings "will not depend to any significant extent on the business of Liverpool". But subsequently they did pay the multi-million pound interest costs out of the club's earnings. RBS confirmed that the £200m Hicks and Gillett "acquisition debt" has now been repaid, leaving the £37m stadium debt.

Henry, in Liverpool to meet the manager Roy Hodgson, his players, staff and officials, declined in his email to explain how NESV raised the £218m cash required to buy Liverpool, and whether any of it was borrowed. "I have certain obligations to my partners regarding confidentiality of a private company and in not disclosing our financials publicly," he said. "LFC discloses its financials annually, so monies going in and going out are disclosed. But I'm not going to disclose NESV financials or financing information."


David Conn

The GuardianTramp

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