Fenway Sports Group’s decision to put Liverpool up for sale — has triggered shockwaves well beyond Anfield.
1) Why has FSG decided to explore the potential sale of Liverpool now?
The answer is two-pronged on both the Super League and also the market value Fenway Sports Group will have seen with the £4.25 billion sale of Chelsea this year.
Taking the financial line before looking at the failed Super League, FSG have seen their investment absolutely explode since they bought it for £300 million ($344.1m) takeover in 2010.
Tom Hicks and George Gillett had run the club into the ground and described the sale of the club to Fenway Sports Group as an “epic swindle”.
FSG have quietly admitted for a long time that the club was “at play” regarding takeover and investment opportunities. This has led to numerous conversations with interested parties from all over the world.
In 2015, a delegation visited China to discuss possibilities around the naming rights for Anfield’s new Main Stand, but this did not lead anywhere.
The following year, Sinofortone, the Chinese construction conglomerate, approached Henry about a buyout, but FSG’s principal owner did not consider the offer to be serious and so ignored the opportunity to engage.
In 2018, Tom Werner, the second biggest shareholder, held discussions in New York with Abu Dhabi-based Sheik Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nehayan about a proposed £2billion takeover. However, it didn’t get past the vetting stage as proof of funds wasn’t forthcoming. It was never put to Henry because the offer wasn’t judged to be credible.
2) How much might Liverpool be worth?
Now, as luck would have it, one of the other nice properties in the Premier League was sold only six months ago for the princely sum of £2.5billion.
So, are Liverpool worth more or less than Chelsea? Forbes, the American business title that tries to pin these jellies to the wall, believes they are, as it valued Liverpool at $4.45bn in May, which was £3.6bn at the time but is now more like £3.85bn due to the dollar’s strength in recent months. That, of course, makes assets priced in pounds cheaper for Americans, a point we shall return to in a moment.
Liverpool are one of the most storied teams in world football and would be able to realistically push for a sale close to or above the £4bn Chelsea sold for.
3) Who could buy Liverpool and how long could it take?
Fenway Sports Group have not ruled out a full sale of Liverpool and it is bound to generate many interested parties.
FSG has frequently received expressions of interest from third parties seeking to become shareholders in Liverpool. FSG has said before that under the right terms and conditions we would consider new shareholders if it was in the best interests of Liverpool as a club.
“FSG remains fully committed to the success of Liverpool, both on and off the pitch.”
4) And what about Jurgen Klopp?
Well, this is interesting given Klopp’s new contract, penned back in April.
The Athletic, who first reported news of FSG’s willingness to sell, have detailed how there had been a resignation in FSG that Klopp was going to depart Anfield when his contract expired in 2024, only to see him commit to fresh terms.
It has become apparent that Klopp, according to their report, was convinced to sign new terms because FSG were ‘in it for the long haul’ and so any departure would naturally raise questions about the German’s long-term future at the club.
Jurgen Klopp has been the best piece of recruitment in the FSG era and his relationship with Gordon has been key to that, with the pair in contact on a daily basis.
5) What’s the club worth to sell now?
An exact figure is always going to be tricky to nail down but you’re safe in the assessment that they could sell for more than 12 times what they paid for it.
It would be hard to ignore proof of funds to the tune of £4bn should a legitimate bidder – or consortium – present themselves.
6) What did fans make of the news?
They were happy, by and large.
A sizeable number of fans took to Twitter to express their delight at news FSG put the club up for sale.
The reason behind that appears to stem from a belief that FSG are incapable of bankrolling the club to the point where they can challenge City, Real Madrid, Barcelona and PSG to the game’s biggest names.
7) Do we know of any interested bidders?
It is still very early days but names will crop up thick and fast now.