Henry cleared to continue Liverpool takeover

LONDON, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Boston Red Sox owner John W Henry was cleared to continue his proposed takeover of Liverpool on Friday by the Premier League but the future of England's most successful club will almost certainly be settled in court.

The Premier League said in a statement that New England Sports Ventures (NESV) had met its stringent requirements laid down for would-be owners of clubs.

"The Premier League is satisfied, with the information provided, that the individuals NESV intend to put in place in the event they complete their takeover of Liverpool FC meet the criteria set out in our Owners' and Directors' Test," the statement said.

While rubber-stamping NESV's credentials for the 300 million pounds takeover, the Premier League was at pains to stress that the deal was far from done.

Liverpool's current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett mounted a legal challenge to the takeover agreed by chairman Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre, the club's commercial director.

"The Board of the Premier League will continue working with Liverpool FC in regard to this process, however, we are aware that the formal completion of this takeover is yet to be resolved and it is therefore inappropriate for us to offer any further comment at this time," the Premier League said.

Hicks and Gillett, who bought the club in February 2007 for 218.9 million pounds, sought to replace two members of the club's five-man board on Tuesday in a bid to retain control, saying NESV's offer "dramatically" under-valued the club.

NESV's offer would cover the club's debts, estimated at 237 million pounds and would lift the spectre of the five-times European champions going into administration.

Hicks and Gillett have an October 15 deadline to either re-finance debts of around 200 million pounds to Royal Bank of Scotland or sell the club.

Failure to do so could result in the club's holding company Kop Holdings to go into administration, triggering a nine-point penalty under Premier League rules.

Liverpool have endured one of their worst starts to a Premier League campaign and after seven matches are in the bottom three with six points.