The “negotiations” for the sale of Liverpool Football club have ended in a decisive loss for the preceding owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

The defeat of Messrs Gillett and Hicks by the remainder of the Liverpool Board does show what a powerful a source of bargaining power it is to have the law and regulations on your side.

John Henry, of new England Sports Ventures, who have now acquired the club, does not sound like a shrinking violet. The owner of the Boston Red Sox has acquired a fortune of almost US$1 billion through Futures trading. Maybe he and Chairman Martin Broughton (who also chairs BA) would have stood up to Gillett and Hicks “tough guy” tactics in the negotiation, come what may. Broughton after all is in the middle of the BA dispute with Unite, so he is not one to shirk a conflict either.

However, what a difference it made to their negotiating attitude and ultimately that of Hicks and Gillett once the High Court had pronounced against the latter last week. Although Hicks and Gillett trooped off to Texas to find a “hang’em and flog ‘em” judge to temporarily restrain the sale, they threw in their hand when Broughton and the Board went back to the High Court to nullify the effect of that injunction. Ultimately the UK Court ruled that Hicks and Gillett no longer had control over Liverpool to prevent its sale. Having required a re-financing of club’s debts by RBS in August, they had accepted conditions of sale against which they had no right to protest now.

With rules and regulations on their side, Broughton and his colleagues moved swiftly to complete the sale and so Gillett and Hicks are left as big losers – to the tune of the £140 million they have spent on the club and will not recover.

So, when you are negotiating make sure you have the law, or any available rules and regs on your side. It substantially increases your bargaining power – and helps you win – at least off the pitch….