When, on Wednesday morning, Mr. Justice Floyd ruled against owners Tom Hicks and George Gillet, the collective sighs of relief were almost tangible. Talisman Steven Gerrard labelled it a “fantastic result”, claiming that “we’ve all suffered in this, especially the supporters, and now it’s time for us all to pull together and help move the club forward”. Indeed, the joy was too much for some Liverpool supporters, who blocked the entrance to the court, heralding the news with ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. The veil of tumult, uncertainty and disappointment seemed set to be lifted from over Anfield.
However, just twenty four hours later, the veil remains firmly in place, as Tom Hicks has secured a temporary restraining order from a Texas court. Although Martin Broughton – Liverpool chairman – remains confident that a sale will be pushed through, Hicks and Gillet show no sign of accepting Mr. Justice Floyd’s ruling and returning quietly to their American ventures. The case has instead spiralled into a battle of wills, with Hicks and Gillet “trying every trick in the book” (to quote Broughton) to halt a quick sale. While litigation experts have indicated that the Texas ruling is unlikely to be more than a temporary reprieve, it is a reprieve that could prove costly. Pepe Reina is the latest player to speak publicly of the unease he feels at the off-field turmoil. After star players Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres appeared to take an abnormally long time over the summer to consider whether or not they wanted to remain at Anfield, such instability may prove terminal to Liverpool’s attempts to retain their services past this season. Then there is the looming threat of a nine point deduction, an unlikely yet still feasible scenario if control cannot be wrested from the Americans.
Outside of the courts, Liverpool suffered another huge blow this week as Dirk Kuyt was ruled out for three to four weeks. Kuyt, one of Liverpool’s most consistent performers over the last two seasons, originally feared that he would be out of action for up to four months. Although the severity of the injury may be lesser than it first seemed, Kuyt’s absence for the forthcoming fixture at Goddison Park may prove telling. Liverpool fans, however, may be forgiven for glossing over Kuyt’s injury as they await news of their club’s future, still united in the hope that Hicks and Gillet will be forced to walk alone.