Fenway Sports Group bought Liverpool in 2010 in a £300m takeover; the owners are believed to be considering a sale although they would prefer to attract new investors; an FSG statement read: "FSG remains fully committed to the success of Liverpool, both on and off the pitch"
Tuesday 8 November 2022 17:25, UK
Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group are working with two US banks to see how much the club is worth - and city insiders believe it could be as much as $5bn (£4.4bn).
FSG, who bought the club in a deal worth about £300m in October 2010, are believed to be considering a sale although they would prefer to attract new investors by selling a minority stake.
They have asked Goldmann Sachs and Morgan Stanley to gauge buyer interest and the banks are expected to sound out whether some of the shortlisted bidders who missed out on buying Chelsea are interested in investing in Liverpool.
Premier League clubs are rarely officially available for sale as that would affect their value - and a statement from FSG read: "There have been a number of recent changes of ownership and rumours of changes in ownership at EPL clubs and inevitably we are asked regularly about Fenway Sports Group's ownership in Liverpool.
"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."
Earlier this year, Russian Roman Abramovich completed the sale of Chelsea to an investment group led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital in a deal advised by Goldmann Sachs placing the overall takeover value at £4.25bn.
The strong dollar and weak pound has theoretically made it cheaper for US investors to buy Premier League clubs at the moment.
Chicago Cubs owners The Ricketts Family, Boston Celtics owner Stephen Pagliuca and a consortium led by former Liverpool chairman Sir Martin Broughton all lost out in the race to buy Chelsea in May. Sir Jim Ratcliffe also failed with a late bid worth more than £4billion.
Liverpool are principally owned by John W Henry, alongside FSG chairman Tom Werner.
Under FSG's ownership, Liverpool have won the Premier League, the Champions League, the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup twice. The club have also won the FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup and the Community Shield in that time.
FSG also owns Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox and the National Hockey League's Pittsburgh Penguins.
Fans group Spirit of Shankly has written to Liverpool asking for clarification on FSG's current position.
A statement read: "We have seen reports today that FSG have put Liverpool FC up for sale.
"Spirit of Shankly have written to LFC for clarification and will await a reply before making comment. We do, however, expect both the Supporters Board and SOS to be engaged in some part of the process so that supporters are front and centre of any sale and the first thoughts of prospective owners."
Sky Sports News' Vinny O'Connor at Anfield:
"We've seen Liverpool's owners open to outside investment before. Don't forget, in 2021 FSG effectively sold 11 per cent to RedBird Capital Partners for around £650m and they reiterated the stance they are open to outside investment, but also reaffirmed their commitment to Liverpool and its success.
"That follows reports that they had effectively put Liverpool up before with the reports suggesting that they are inviting offers for the club with big investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley brought in to assist the valuation process. As of May this year, Liverpool was valued at around £3.89bn by Forbes.
"However [in FSG's statement], they did not address the reports that investment banks had been brought in to see the valuation process.
"But you look at what FSG has achieved with Liverpool here. They spent £300m on the takeover back in 2010 and it's a very different place to what it was then.
"They hired Jurgen Klopp in 2015 and since then, they were able to bring in a much-wanted and much-waited-for Premier League title. There was the Champions League, the League Cup, an FA Cup, a Club World Cup, and a European Super Cup.
"Add to that, the Main Stand [at Anfield] cost £110m, the £80m Anfield Road development continues apace as well. That encompassed with the Main Stand will see them add around 16,000 seats in terms of capacity from when they took over the club.
"There have been rough moments for FSG as an ownership group too. In 2019, they tried to trademark the name 'Liverpool', which didn't go down well with supporters. They performed a U-turn after the adverse reaction to the proposal of furloughing staff during the Covid pandemic.
"There was another U-turn over plans to raise ticket prices and again, the fans protested and the ownership took note of that. Last year, John W Henry apologised for Liverpool's part in the proposed European Super League.
"As it stands, it's not a case of a 'for sale' sign being outside Anfield at the moment, but of course the reiteration that Liverpool and their ownership group are open to outside investment."
Football finance expert Kieran Maguire to Sky Sports News:
"I think they have got two options. They can take a minority investment in order to generate some cash. I think there is an alternative viewpoint that Fenway Sports Group could potentially feel that they have gone as far as they can with Liverpool FC
"They bought it for £300m, they can sell it for 12-14 times that amount [now], and they are now competing against sovereign wealth funds - we've added Newcastle into the mix at the top of the Premier League with the wealth of their owners - and it becomes even more of a challenge to qualify for the Champions League when you've got seven clubs going for four places.
"In the short term, Liverpool are in a strong financial position. Fenway Sports Group have run the club really well, they have a break-even model and they have made money in terms of transfer sales in recent years.
"For the transfer market in the very short term, I think the club will be slightly cautious at the same time Fenway Sports Group know that they have to invest in order to be competitive.
"They [FSG] have invested in infrastructure, they have taken this moneyball approach in terms of player recruitment and retention, and that means they have punched above their weight.
"If we take a look at the period since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson [at Manchester United] in 2013, Liverpool will have spent half a billion pounds less than any of the other leading clubs, compared to Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.
"And I think it's arguable that they have probably been the only main challengers to Manchester City in the last three or four years - I know they have had a poor season so far to date - but that's due to the way that they run the business and the way that they have targeted players."
Liverpool's assistant manager Pep Lijnders insists the staff and players have not been distracted by talk of a potential sale by club owners Fenway Sports Group ahead of their Carabao Cup third-round tie against Derby on Wednesday.
He said: "Everybody who has seen us over the past few years, everybody who knows us as a club knows we have a strong relationship with the owners.
"We knew before, of course. We knew about the statement, but nothing more than you guys [the media] knew. What I would like to say is that I always know the owners act in the best interests of the club. They always did, I believe they always tried, at least.
"This relationship was very important for us and always will be. I think the statement was very clear.
"How did it distract us? To be honest, this is what I always liked about our club. We are so focused. There was a little talk between Jurgen and me, but from that moment on we start focusing. We have a big game coming up. This competition means so much for us. If there is one competition that represents the whole club it is this one - so I can't wait."
He added: "The statement was clear. It is nothing new that the club tries to find new investors. To repeat what I said, they are acting in the best interests of the club to try to take the club forward. I believe they always did.
"For me they are good owners and I will explain a few reasons why. First one, they tied down one of the best managers in the world for seven-plus years. I think that says a lot.
"Secondly, they tied down the best players in the squad. The difference between the world top and sub top is that you have to sell your best players, but they tied down players like Mo Salah.
"What is more important in my opinion is that they have a stable academy. They invested in the academy and in where we are sitting now, which is one of the best training grounds in British football, in my opinion. And of course they invested in the main stand, so they made a lot of good decisions.
"If they were not good owners we would not be sitting here - and we won a lot of cups."