It's a done deal. ESPN has announced that New England Sports Ventures (NESV) has become the new owners of the Liverpool soccer team.
First off, a big congratulations to all of those fans. Based on what they've done with the Boston Red Sox, and what the new owners had to say about that club, you can expect good things very soon.
But where does that leave us Dallas fans?
I could get into all the issues of Hicks, and how he wants to walk away with as much money as possible, but I won't. I really think it's simpler than that.
The creditors have said before that they are in control of the sale of this club. Not Hicks. Maybe *technically* Hicks is still owner, but all the creditors really have to do is declare bankruptcy, and then they can assume control if they want. They want to avoid that legal mess if possible, though.
But the good news is, since all other debts have been take care of by the sale of the other 2 franchises, the only debts left are those of the Dallas Stars themselves. That's roughly $200 million. And the sale price (the last we heard) is somewhere around $225 million. Enough to take care of the Dallas Stars' legal issues.
Before we get too giddy, though, there are some bumps in the road that are likely to arise...
First off, Hicks has lost his mind when it comes to valuing his teams for sale. For some reason, he thought that Liverpool was worth $800 million, when he did nothing to improve it, and amassed $500 million in debt for the team. I also read the other day on SI.com that he now values the Stars around $450 million. Obviously, this is not the case. Liverpool was worth only what it was sold for (if that much), and the Stars are definitely not worth more than $300 million. When they sold Liverpool to NESV for less than what he felt like was reasonable, he immediately ran to court (A Texas court? Like that would really work) to try and block the sale. Of course, Texas has no jurisdiction over the country of England, and the sale continued on. He's even trying to sue them for $1.6 BILLION in damages, but I really don't see how he can succeed with that claim. Brace yourselves, though, Stars fans... you can expect him to do the same with the Stars. Hicks broke even on the sale of the Rangers, but lost about $200 million on the sale of Liverpool. He'll be looking to recoup those losses from the sale of the Stars. And the only way he can do that is to try and force the creditors to sell the team at the price he wants. Even if they sell the Stars at $225 million, I think he'll be losing about $75 million on that investment as well. You can see why he wants to hold out for more.
The creditors won't allow it though. As we've mentioned before, the creditors assumed control of this team at the end of August. They did it smoothly and quietly, in order to help this team run as efficiently as possible, given the current state that it's in. They've been playing nice in order to try and get a sale done in the easiest manner possible. But if Hicks tries to block the sale of the Stars, there's only one option left for them. To declare bankruptcy for the Stars. From then on, Hicks will officially lose control completely, and the creditors can run a sale through.
Unfortunately, at this point, I think you can expect that to happen. It may be the only way to pry this team out of Hicks' hands for good. And while it will be a little messy, I think they've learned their lesson from the sale of the Rangers, and will try to avoid as much bad blood as possible.
For the time being, let's forget the Tom Hicks part of the equation, and focus on the creditors selling our team. They want to sell it for as much as they can, and as a result, have decided to wait and see if anyone ups their bids. Now, I know this has caused a lot of concern for us, especially regarding the fact that Richards needs to be re-signed, and our self imposed spending limit of $45 million will be impossible to follow next season. But don't fret. The creditors are willing to wait, but they know if they wait too long, they will crash this team, and the value of the Stars will go down so far, they won't be able to cover the debts that Hicks amassed. They WILL sell this team in time to have Richards signed. I promise you. (And if not, you can bet they will try and sign Richards while working out the sale).
I've said before that if the team struggled out of the gate, that the creditors would more likely drop their asking price, and get a sale done sooner rather than later. Much to our delight and simultaneous consternation, the Stars have shown that they can be a strong team with great potential. 3-0 is awesome (especially within the first 6 games of the season :-) ), but you can bet that the creditors are willing to sit and wait for a higher bid now.
We all know this waiting game sucks. We're waiting on our hero with the $ design on his cape (Do they use the $ in Canada?) to show up and rescue us. We've been waiting for what feels like far too long. While we're happy that Hicks has been removed from the Rangers and from Liverpool, we find ourselves asking "What about us? When is it OUR turn?"
Well, guys, here's the best news of all. I think this waiting game may turn out to be a really good thing for us. The reason why I suggest such blasphemy? The new potential owners are getting a chance to see what we are capable of this year, and the next several. All the goal scoring, all the action, all the fantastic saves. All of these are done by players that are up and coming and in their prime. This team can go far. Really far. Like Stanley cup far. Maybe not this year, but at the rate they're going (3-0!!!), who knows? A person sees that, and they see playoff ticket sales, they see an increased fan base, they see TV programming deals. In short, they see a highly profitable team that they can purchase for fairly cheap. If they can get a chance to see that in our Dallas Stars, you can bet your sweet bippy they'll be willing to spend whatever it takes to re-sign Richards, maintain our core players, and add that missing piece we need to compete at an ultra high level. I think if the Stars really struggled before they were sold, the new owner would be much more inclined to maintain a spending cap, and try to operate at a break even, budgeted pace. All in all, I think the Stars coming out strong like they have really helps the sale in the long run. Let's hope they keep that up so I can be proven right. (Time to go 5-0, baby!)
So, Stars fans, be patient. A new owner will be in place soon. It may just take longer than what we would like. But your team is playing great, has great chemistry, and has an UNBELIEVABLE future ahead of them. Go to the games, cheer them on, and show all the love and support you can. Things are going to be okay.