Today marks the first, and perhaps last time in recorded history supporters of Liverpool F.C. find themselves envious of Texas Rangers fans.  The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports a group fronted by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan have reached an agreement in principal to purchase the Rangers from Tom Hicks (above).

The deal ends some three weeks of intense negotiations, the final eight days of which took place at the urging of Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig after a 30-day window of exclusive negotiations ended Jan. 15.

Last-minute details were ironed out late Friday night and into Saturday. Now, the likelihood of Ryan becoming a minority owner of the last team for which he played and is currently its team president is seen as a formality.

“We are fortunate to be assuming the stewardship of a franchise poised for greatness,” said Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg, who is leading the 12-investor group that includes Ryan, in a statement.

Ownership could be transferred to Greenberg and Ryan™s group, Rangers Baseball Express, by Opening Day, April 4. The deal is expected to easily to pass the scrutiny of baseball™s executive committee and eight-man ownership committee. The 40 lenders who hold $525 million in Hicks Sports Group debt also will review the agreement.

An intriguing aspect of the deal is that it all but excludes Tom Hicks.

A baseball source said that Hicks will own only a small piece of the team and will not sit on its board of directors. He will remain with the team in the ceremonial role of chairman emeritus and, in a deal struck with another company he owns, will hold only 42 of the 195 acres surrounding Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and Cowboys Stadium.