Liverpool for sale? What’s happening at Anfield


Liverpool fans want to consult on potential takeovers

Liverpool’s future direction is uncertain after the owners said they would “Consider the new shareholders” following reports the club is for sale.

Here we look at the background to the potential sale of one of the world’s biggest football clubs, which could fetch around £4 billion.

How successful has the FSG era been?

The American company, which owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team, said it “remains fully committed to Liverpool’s success, both on and off the field.”

Eight trophies have been won in the 12 years since taking charge at Anfield, including six under Jurgen Klopp.

Joining as manager in 2015, he helped change the environment at the club and has delivered the Champions League trophy and its first league title for 30 years.

Liverpool have signed the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker, at the time the world’s most expensive defender and goalkeeper respectively, and turned signings like Mohamed Salah into world-class talents.

Although most of the £300m was used to pay off debts to banks managed by predecessors George Gillett and Tom Hicks, at the end of the 2017-18 financial year, the club made a profit of £106m.

The owners scrapped plans for a new Stanley Park stadium to stay at Anfield, and took out a £115m loan to redevelop the Grand Stand.

A redevelopment of the Anfield Road end to add an extra 7,000 seats is on track for completion next summer, and a new £50m training ground has been built.

What went wrong?

Although there have been successes on the field, there have also been controversies.

Ticket price hikes in 2016 and plans to put non-performing workers on the government’s leave scheme during the Covid-19 lockdown sparked anger and backlash.

An attempt to register the word “Liverpool” was rejected by the Intellectual Property Office.

And the club’s involvement in botched plans to create a European Super League led to further criticism.

Liverpool were runners-up in the Premier League last season, but are currently eighth in the standings.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for clubs to compete financially with sides backed by rich states such as Paris St-Germain (Qatar), Manchester City (Abu Dhabi) and Newcastle (Saudi Arabia).

“There are three clubs in world football that can do what they want financially. It’s legal and everything, fine, but they can do what they want,” Klopp said before Liverpool faced City last month.

“We have to look at it [and say] “We need that and we need that and we need to look here and get younger, and here’s a prospect and here’s a talent.”

In August, Klopp admitted that Liverpool wanted to “take a bit more risk” in the transfer market.

John W Henry with Jurgen Klopp
FSG boss John Henry hired Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager seven years ago

Why would they sell it now?

Kieran Maguire, football finance expert

It means that some of the temporary interest they’ve had in the last two or three years has pushed them to try to test the market. Is someone ready to take over now?

There were over 200 bidders for Chelsea and it was a distressed asset. FSG will be on notice and, considering Liverpool is such a big brand, they have made the sum in the hope of making a significant return on the initial £300m.

I think as far as we’re concerned at the moment they’re either going to do a full sale or hold on to try to get more money and more value out of Liverpool over the next few years.

FSG have proven to be very clever in developing Liverpool as a brand and by introducing the ‘Moneyball’ concept around player recruitment and retention, this has meant that Liverpool have been successful over the last seven or eight years while spending half a billion less than Manchester City. . United and Chelsea.

Whether future owners can replicate the FSG model will be a concern for supporters.

The bank names associated with the club are very serious players.

Who can buy them?

According to Maguire, there is around a 60% chance of Liverpool being sold before the end of the season.

“It will probably be mainly American investors looking at the club,” said Maguire, professor of football finance at the University of Liverpool.

“The pound is currently weak, which makes the deal even more attractive if those investors are coming from overseas.

“The Chinese government has refused to allow its corporations to invest in football, so that’s one area that has disappeared.”

Premier League rivals Chelsea were sold for £4.25 billion in May to a consortium led by American investor Todd Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital.

The club was put up for sale before previous owner Roman Abramovich was punished for his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Chelsea’s price of £4.25m included a commitment to spend £1.75m over the next decade, so the price was £2.5m,” Maguire said.

“With Liverpool having a bigger stadium and greater revenue and cost controls, the numbers that come out for them are between £3.5bn and £4m depending on the level of interest from the club.

“I’m not sure who would have around £4billion in it to buy Liverpool.”

Liverpool won the league title for the first time in 30 years in 2020
Liverpool won the league title for the first time in 30 years in 2020

What do the fans think?

There will be mixed opinions, but the most important thing is that the fans are consulted, said Harriet Prior of the Anfield Wrap.

“People are really shocked by the news. It’s quite alarming and worrying, and we’re probably going to have a more tumultuous few months than people expected,” he said.

“There is a split opinion. The fans would like to see no ceiling on transfers, but they would resent Liverpool owning a state and what that entails.

“FSG has had a successful reign and it could be be careful what you wish for.

“It’s fair to say that Liverpool are a team in transition and if they concentrate on possession next term, they can have an impact on the pitch.

“Whatever happens, the voices of the fans must be heard.”

Liverpool’s supporters’ union, Spirit of Shankly, has written to the club asking for clarification on the potential sale.

“Both the Supporters’ Committee and SOS are expected to be involved in some part of the process so that the supporters are at the forefront of any sale and the first thoughts of potential owners,” he said.

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