Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bobby Rhine on 1560 The Game's Orange Slice

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JUNE 21:  Sinisa Ubiparipovic #8 of the New York Red Bulls defends against Bobby Rhine #19 of the FC Dallas at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands on June 21, 2008 in East Rutherford, New Jersey  The Red Bulls defeat Dallas 1-0  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)

Former FC Dallas forward and current play-by-play man for FC Dallas television broadcasts joined The Orange Slice on 1560 The Game to discuss Dallas' return to the MLS Playoffs. The Orange Slice airs on 1560 The Game in Houston every Saturday morning from 9-10 central time. If you don't live in Houston, never fear cause 1560 streams live on the internet 24/7 - CLICK HERE FOR THE 1560 STREAM.

Here's the podcast of Bobby Rhine on The Orange Slice:

Halloween Weekend Videos

Since Sunday is Halloween and since I haven't done a soccer video post in a while, I figured I'd do my best to combine soccer & Halloween for a post, here's what I got for you:

Prior to playing Brian Clough in "The Damned United," British actor Michael Sheen appeared in this short film of Saki's classic story "The Open Window:"

Did you miss this past week's Halloween episode of Community on NBC? Jeff Winger (played by Joel McHale) dressed as David Beckham for the episode (not the insider bonus for those of you who recognize the costume for Winning Ugly Radio's Scott Bornstein), here's the sneak peak video that NBC released:

This has been around for awhile, thankfully the player doesn't die as some have suggested:

Stop Land Mines:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Episode 22 of The Zygo Soccer Report

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 23: Houston Dynamo salute the fans on fan appreciation day as they play the Seattle Sounders at Robertston Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Houston, Texas. Houston won 2-1. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The Houston Dynamo closed the season on a positive note by beating the Seattle Sounders 2-1 at Robertson Stadium on Saturday October 23, 2010. This episode includes post match audio from Cam Weaver, Geoff Cameron, Tyler Deric, and Coach Dominic Kinnear.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Episode 21 of The Zygo Soccer Report

WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 25: Danny Cruz  of the Houston Dynamo controls the ball against D.C. United at RFK Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)

Saturday October 22nd will mark the end of the Houston Dynamo's 2010 season, the first season the team hasn't made it into the MLS playoffs. Here's some thoughts on the season and some audio from Dominic Kinnear, Brian Ching, Brad Davis, and Lovell Palmer who were at the Houston Dynamo's press conference on Thursday.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Paul Dalglish on The Orange Slice - 1560 The Game - Houston, Texas

On Saturday October 16, 2010, former Houston Dynamo player and former coach of the Tampa Bay Rowdies joined The Orange Slice on 1560 The Game to discuss soccer in the United States and the change of ownership at Liverpool F.C.

Here's the audio:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Liverpool Sale to NESV Should Occur Today - Hicks & Gillett TRO Withdrawn

Boarded up houses are seen on a road leading to the Kop of Liverpool football club in Liverpool, northern England, October 14, 2010. Liverpool's takeover saga resumed in London's High Court on Thursday, with the club's board seeking to overcome a restraining order on an agreed sale just as rival bidder Peter Lim announced he was pulling out. A High Court ruling on Wednesday paved the way for Liverpool to be sold for 300 million pounds ($479.8 million) to New England Sports Ventures (NESV) before owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks obtained a temporary block in a Texas district court. REUTERS/Darren Staples  (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER BUSINESS)

UPDATE - 8:05 am Central Time, Friday October 15, 2010:

At this point, it looks like the sale of Liverpool FC to John Henry and NESV will be finalized today.

Expect Tom Hicks and George Gillett to file a civil lawsuit seeking damages for breach of contract and other claims. Don't be surprised if this lawsuit is filed in the United States.


Early reports from Associated Press this morning indicate that when the 160th Judicial District Court convenes in Dallas County, Texas at 7:00 this morning, the attorneys for the plaintiffs (fronts for Tom Hicks and George Gillett) will move to have the temporary restraining order preventing the sale of Liverpool to NESV withdrawn.

While that removes the Texas legal hurdle, it does not necessarily mean that the intended sale to NESV will move forward as planned. This morning we're starting to hear rumblings that Tom Hicks has either sold his shares to Mills Financial, a US hedge fund, or is in talks to sell his shares to Mills Financial. This presents the prospect of Mills Financial stepping in and paying off the team's debt to the Royal Bank of Scotland before the sale to NESV can be finalized. As to what this means to the deal with NESV, worst case scenario is that the sale could be scuttled. We'll see what happens and hope these matters are resolved before this weekend's derby.

Follow Josh Imhoff on Twitter - he'll be at the Dallas County Courthouse today.

Here's a link to Sky's ongoing coverage of the Liverpool situation.

UPDATE - 7:30am Central Time

No word that the Judge has approved the motion to withdraw the TRO, but that should only be a matter of time.

Meanwhile, reports out of England indicate that Mills Financial's efforts to approach the EPL for the fit and proper determination have been rebuffed by the league, which will only deal with the legal board of directors for Liverpool.

My prediction, the sale to NESV will take place today, but Hicks and Gillett will pursue further legal options in an effort to get more money out of the club.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Night Before: Will Liverpool's Future be Resolved on Friday?

A woman exits the club shop at Liverpool football club in Liverpool, northern England, October 14, 2010. Liverpool's takover saga resumed in London's High Court on Thursday, with the club's board seeking to overcome a restraining order on an agreed sale just as rival bidder Peter Lim announced he was pulling out. A High Court ruling on Wednesday paved the way for Liverpool to be sold for 300 million pounds ($479.8 million) to New England Sports Ventures (NESV) before owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks obtained a temporary block in a Texas district court. REUTERS/Darren Staples  (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER BUSINESS)

As of this afternoon the future of Liverpool FC was, to a degree, back in the hands of the Honorable Jim Jordan, Judge of the District Court of Dallas County, Texas, 160th Judicial District, as attorneys for the Royal Bank of Scotland et al sought to have the temporary restraining order preventing the sale of Liverpool FC to NESV lifted. I'm not privy to the details of today's proceedings, but I do know that the court adjourned and will reconvene at 7:00 am central time tomorrow.

It's possible that Judge Jordan will review the law, pleadings, and arguments tonight and make a decision right of way tomorrow, or he might allow more oral argument before making a ruling tomorrow (though, he could postpone a decision until next week).

Time is of the essence as Liverpool FC is scheduled to go into administration unless an order to transfer funds for the purchase of the club is made by 3:00 pm London time tomorrow. At this point, I'll let my brethren in England explain the ramifications of administration and whether that process can be prevented if the Texas court doesn't rule in favor of RBS tomorrow.

CLICK HERE for an article from the Telegraph regarding the current Liverpool situation.

CLICK HERE for the Guardian's take.

CLICK HERE for an article by a sports law professor Michael McCann regarding the current legal situation.

I'm hoping a friend of mine who lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area will be able to attend tomorrow's hearing and alert us to the results as soon as possible. Keep an eye on my twitter feed - - for updates.

"This case has nothing to do with Texas." - So now what for Liverpool Sale?

A Liverpool supporter stands outside the High Court in London October 13, 2010. Premier League side Liverpool inched closer to a sale on Wednesday when a High Court judge ruled against their unpopular American owners and backed the club's board and its right to negotiate a deal.  REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER BUSINESS)

Here's my quick response to the latest news coming out of England regarding the legal drama concerning the sale of Liverpool FC. Today, the High Court in England has determined that the Texas courts do not have jurisdiction over the matters surrounding the sale of Liverpool FC. Here's the latest coverage of the High Court's proceedings from England:

The Guardian

The Telegraph

The Independent

So does this mean the Royal Bank of Scotland and the other defendants can just ignore the temporary restraining order and move forward with the sale of the club as planned? In reality, "No."

If they move forward with the sale without getting the TRO lifted, they still risk being in contempt of court.

Since we're dealing with two courts located in two separate countries, as of now, nothing that has been issued by either court has truly overruled what the other court has done. At this point all parties involved need to be careful about violating any of the court orders that have been issued by the two courts, until one of the courts cede's authority to the other court.

So what happens now?

The defendants in the Texas case are going to have to get the TRO lifted so that they can move forward with the sale without being in contempt of the TRO - the High Court can't lift the TRO, only the Texas court can do that. The defendants will submit the orders from the High Court to the Texas court and seek to have the Texas court recognize these orders as valid. There is a process for this, which I don't have time to really delve into at the moment. Just know that there are means of getting foreign court judgments/orders recognized in Texas courts.

As I mentioned in a prior article, Texas law usually requires 3 days notice for a hearing. Under that rule, Monday would be the earliest day to have a hearing. That being said, the defendants can still try to get the matter on Friday's court docket - by doing that it would mean the 3 day notice issue could be a basis for some kind of appeal, if things get that far.

At this point, I still think we're looking at a delay in the sale of the club. But we'll keep watching and see what other legal maneuvering occurs.


It is my understanding that there is a hearing set to occur in the Dallas court today. I suspect this might have to do with the earlier talk that Hicks and Gillett's team were seeking to have the court find the defendants in contempt of the TRO. It is possible that the defendants' legal counsel will be present at this hearing and take it as an opportunity to get the TRO lifted. We'll see what happens.

The Liverpool Temporary Restraining Order

Mr George Gillett and Tom Hicks Co Chairman share a joke before the start of the Match ( Today 16/04/10 Both Chairman put Liverpool Football Club up for sale) Liverpool 2008/09 Liverpool V Arsenal (4-4) 21/04/09 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

In yesterday's article I discussed how personal jurisdiction in relationship to the Liverpool lawsuit works in Texas. Today, a quick glimpse at the Temporary Restraining Order. This article is meant along the lines of what Wikipedia calls a stub and is not intended as a detailed discussion of the law of temporary restraining order - this article is not legal advice, does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is not intended as attorney advertising.

In addition to filing a lawsuit in Texas state court yesterday, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, through their various holding and investment companies, also requested and obtained a temporary restraining order that essentially delays the sale of Liverpool FC to John Henry and NESV.

Temporary restraining orders are considered something of an extreme remedy and are only issued in certain instances. In essence, a plaintiff has to show the court that if it does not issue a TRO then some imminent event or action is about to occur that basically hurts the plaintiff or the plaintiff's claim in an irreparable manner. In this instance it is the completion of the sale, which had been scheduled for Friday October 15, 2010.

Since TROs are issued solely on the oath (and bond) of one party, they don't last long, in fact the court has to have a hearing, where the defendant can contest the matter, within 14 days. In the Liverpool matter, the hearing is set for Monday October 25th. The defendants can try to get the court to move the hearing up to an earlier date, but unlikely that a hearing would be held before Monday.

There are indications that the defendants will be pursing their own legal avenues in English court today, seeking injunctive relief that would prevent or limit the ability of the Hicks & Gillett to move forward with their Texas litigation. The immediate impact of any such order by the English courts would result in something of a standoff that will still make it difficult to move forward with the sale of Liverpool this week.

Assuming that the English court rules against Hicks & Gillett, it doesn't remove the fact that there is a valid (under Texas law), standing order in a Texas court and failure to comply with that order could result in costly contempt charges or prolonged additional litigation over which court has ultimate authority. To protect themselves, the defendants in the Texas litigation will need to get the Texas court to lift the TRO before completing the sale of the club. To do this, they can try to get a hearing as soon as possible, and due to notice requirements, that will probably be no earlier than Monday.

Alternatively, if the English court forbids Hicks & Gillett from pursuing their Texas litigation, the defendants can wait till the 25th to see if Hicks & Gillett allow the TRO to expire on its own. If Hicks & Gillett disobey the English court order and move forward with the Texas litigation, then they would be in contempt of the English court and subject to penalties under English law.

As the attorney in the interview below notes, the Texas court will not completely ignore what has occurred in the English courts and could give judicial notice to those results. However, the Texas litigation is not at that stage in the process yet, and until then, NESV and Royal Bank of Scotland are smart to comply with any orders of the Texas court.

These proceedings highlight not only the international nature of big business these days but the international nature of the English Premier League, and the types of litigation nightmares that can result when there is no contractual choice of law provision governing disputes between parties.

The sad reality of this matter is that it has gone this far and has entered a realm that is a nightmare to Liverpool fans and a legal/financial minefield for the parties who own, run, and operate Liverpool.

CLICK HERE to jump to an interview another Texas attorney did on BBC 5 Live's Wake up to Money.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hicks & Gillett File Suit in Texas to Disrupt Liverpool Sale - Is there Jurisdiction?

Liverpool Football Club supporters hold banners outside the High Court, in London October 12, 2010. The judge will make his ruling in the high court case about the ownership of Liverpool Football Club at 0930 GMT on Wednesday, the judge said on Tuesday.   REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth  (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS SPORT SOCCER)

The past few weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster ride for fans of Liverpool Football Club. There's been plenty of articles for detailing the ownership saga at Liverpool, and for the sake of time I won't rehash the recent events except to say that earlier today it appeared that all hurdles in England had been cleared and that John Henry and New England Sports Ventures would become owners of Liverpool, pushing out Tom Hicks and George Gillett. However, in a last attempt to either foil the sale or get more money out of the club, Hicks and Gillett have filed a civil lawsuit in the District Court of Dallas County, Texas, 160th Judicial District, and have obtained a Temporary Restraining Order from said court.

Before I delve into the pleadings and related law in an effort to give Liverpool fans in particular and football fans in general an idea of what's going on, here's the disclaimer:

While I am licensed to practice law in the State of Texas nothing in this article is intended as or should be read as legal advice. Nothing in this article creates an attorney-client relationship between the author and any reader. Furthermore, this article is not written for or intended to serve as an attorney advertisement.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, time to start making sense of these proceedings. (Please forgive any spelling or grammar mistakes since time and not proofreading is my priority here.)

My initial idea was to tackle all the issues presented by this lawsuit in one article, but then realized it would be better to break the different aspects of these proceedings down into a series of articles. Since everyone is questioning whether a Texas court has the authority to stop the sale of Liverpool to John Henry and NESV, I'm going to address the issue of court jurisdiction and, to a lesser extent, venue in this article.

In response to some of the comments both on and offline, I feel the need to point out that in the United States, anyone can file a lawsuit, no matter how valid that lawsuit ends up proving. At this stage in the proceedings, the Court doesn't really care about the validity of the plaintiffs' claims and allegations - there are several procedural steps that have to occur before the court starts examining the legal validity of the lawsuit. Keep in mind that something like 90% of the lawsuits filed in the United States never reach trial, they are either resolved in pre-trial motions, like summary judgment, or settled. Finally, do not think of the Texas Court, by issuing the temporary restraining order, as overruling the English Court. All the Texas Court looked at was a narrow range of criteria that is needed for it to issue a temporary restraining order. To be blunt, at this point in the process in Texas, the Texas Court really doesn't care what has happened in the English Court System - it will care, but that will be down the road in the procedural process the parties will have to travel.

Please keep in mind that when I worked in civil litigation, I always approached issues by examining my opponent's strongest issue(s) and creating something of a worst case scenario that I had to fight against in order to win. In this article, and in future articles, I might not always paint the kind of picture that Liverpool fans want to see, but please don't take that as my personal opinion or feelings on this matter. Also, keep in mind that in lawsuits, earlier procedural matters tend to favor the plaintiff but as the matter progresses the procedural playing field starts to shift in favor of the defendant. What this means is that it is not easy to get a case "dismissed" quickly.

The general rule is that if you file a lawsuit against somebody you have to file said lawsuit either: (1) where the defendent is located, (2) where the property in dispute is located, or (3) where the acts or omissions giving rise to the lawsuit occurred.

On the face of the pleadings, only one party to this lawsuit has clear contacts with Texas, that is Kop Investment, one of the plaintiffs, which has its principal place of business in Texas. Courts in Texas have what is called personal jurisdiction over persons or entities that have "continuous and systematic contacts with Texas." I know, that phrase is rather vague.

Probably the best way to explain what these "contacts" are is to point out what the defendants' in this case can do to fight jurisdiction. Before filing anything else, including an answer, the defendants can fight Texas court jurisdiction by filing a "Special Appearance," in which they argue that there is no personal jurisdiction because:

(1) defendants are not Texas residents;

(2) defendants have not had minimum contacts with Texas; and

(3) even if the defendants had some contact with Texas, traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice would be offended if the court exercised jurisdiction over the defendants.

Clearly, the defendants are not Texas residents so . . . What does "minimum contacts" mean? What are traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice? Well, there are no bright line rules or definitions to be applied in determining what these terms mean. Instead, it is resolved on a case by case basis.

Based solely on the pleadings, the Royal Bank of Scotland and NESV have business contacts with Texas and Martin Broughton attended meetings in Dallas concerning Liverpool FC. Is this enough to establish minimum contacts? Courts and judges are territorial and they don't like limiting their power. Depending on how these issues are fleshed out, I could see a scenario or two where the Court finds that there are minimum contacts that enable it to exercise jurisdiction over the defendants. It doesn't help that in arguing that there are not minimum contacts, the defendants are forced into the unenviable task of having to prove a negative.

One of the first things I learned in my Civil Procedure class in law school was that most procedural disputes, and many substantive disputes, are resolved by the court balancing and weighing different interests. In determining the issue of whether the exercise of jurisdiction over the defendants is fair or unfair, the court weighs the interests of its state/community, the plaintiffs' interests, the defendants' interests, and the resulting costs/burdens. The reality is that when a Texas Court finds that minimum contacts exist for it to exercise jurisdiction, it will rarely find that doing so is unfair to the defendants. The seeming finality of the legal proceedings in England would likely lead the Texas court towards leaning in the plaintiffs' favor on this issue.

So, yes, under Texas law, a Texas court can have jurisdiction over this dispute. So, what does that mean? What happens if the defendants ignore the temporary restraining order and move forward with the sale?

They can be found in contempt of court, which, in this case, means the defendants could be facing fines, possibly substantial fines. Since NESV and the Royal Bank of Scotland do business in the United States, it's highly unlikely that they will ignore the temporary restraining order.

So, what happens if the Texas court finds it has jurisdiction? Expect the defendants to file a motion to remove these proceedings to the United States District Court. This issue will most likely be the topic of my next article in this series.

Since this discussion of the jurisdictional issue, which please remember is a procedural issue, isn't the most positive from the perspective of Liverpool fans, I want to try to end on a more positive note for Liverpool fans.

It's highly unlikely that this lawsuit will stop the sale of Liverpool to John Henry and NESV. It may slow that process down and it may result in more money being thrown in the direction of Hicks and Gillett, but it the end Liverpool should be free of those two.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Video: Italy - Serbia 2012 Euro Qualifier Suspended Due to Violence

An Italian supporter is hit by a burning flare thrown by Serbia's supporters before the Euro 2012 qualifying soccer match between the two teams at the Luigi Ferraris stadium in Genoa October 12, 2010. The match was suspended after just six minutes and was likely to be abandoned on Tuesday when away fans threw flares onto the pitch and at Italian fans. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo (ITALY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Today's 2012 Euro Qualifier between Italy and Serbia in Genoa started after a thirty-five minute delay and only lasted seven minutes before the match was suspended due to fan violence. While Italian football has seen its fair share of fan violence in recent years, today's incidents were apparently caused by travelling Serbian fans who threw flares onto the pitch, threw flares at Italian fans (see the picture above), threw fireworks onto the pitch, burned a flag, and started dismantling barriers.

The violence, which appears to be an organized protest against the Serbian National Team, started prior to the match when Serbian fans threw flares at the team bus, resulting in an injury to Serbian goal keeper Vladimir Stojković.

At this point, it appears that fans of Red Star FC are being blamed for today's violence, as articles point out that Stojković recently left Red Star to join its fierce rival Partizan FC. UEFA's investigation into this matter will clarify the veracity of such claims.

In light of today's incidents, UEFA is likely to deem this match a 3-0 victory in favor of Italy.

Today's violence by Serbian fans comes on the heels of violence related to a gay pride parade that was held in Belgrade this past weekend. Sunday's violence in Belgrade is apparently being blamed on pro-fascist elements in Serbia.

As a side note, Neven Subotic, who grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, was on the Serbian starting lineup for today's match.

Here is video from Genoa:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Achtung United States, Meet your New Midfielder, Jermaine Jones

The USA's Jermaine Jones (15) and Poland's Jakub Blaszczykowski struggle for the ball during the second half of their international friendly soccer match in Chicago, October 9, 2010. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

After what feels like years of speculation, Jermaine Jones finally suited up for the U.S. National Team in Saturday night's 2-2 draw with Poland at Soldier Field in Chicago.

My first impression of how the young German born midfielder did in his first outing with the Red, White, & Blue - promising. The obvious contribution from Jones was his ability to make long, accurate passes, including one to Jozy Altidore that lead to the US's first goal in the 12th minute. As Jones adjusts to his teammates, and vice versa, his passing skills should help the team to stretch the field and more bite to their attack.

Until our next chance to watch Jones (probably on Tuesday when US plays Colombia), here's a glimpse at his past in Germany:

Friday, October 1, 2010

And They Call Soccer Fans Hooligans - The Friday Fights

SOUTH BEND, IN - SETPEMBER 19: A sign in a tailgater's car before a game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Michigan State Spartans on September 19, 2009 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Soccer fans aren't the only sports fans that cause trouble: