It has been a quiet week for Liverpool as the club begins to wind down ahead of the World Cup in Qatar. There has been little to talk about except the defeat of Derby County on penalties in the EFL Cup…*RECORD SCRATCH*
Hang on a second! Such has been the seismic shock caused by David Ornstein’s revelations last Monday, Caoimhín Kelleher’s heroics and the Reds drawing both Real Madrid and Manchester City in the space of three days have been pushed way down the pecking order.
As reported in the Athletic, FSG are believed to be ‘inviting offers’ for their prized European asset, although have not confirmed they are seeking a full sale. In a brief statement, the club’s owners said, ‘…under the right terms and conditions we would consider new shareholders if it was in the best interests of Liverpool as a club.’
On the latest episode of our Journo Insight Show, we asked goal.com’s Neil Jones for his take on this week’s dramatic news.
“My gut feeling is I think they’ll sell a percentage of the club. That’s just a gut feeling, but if someone comes and says, ‘We’ll give you five billion for that,’ I think they’ll sell. Jürgen must have had at least an in-depth conversation with Mike Gordon. To me, his quote sounded a little bit like he’s had at least a steer in the direction of – it’s more likely to be investment.
In that sense, it’s been quite stable, the club, and this opens the door to the idea that it could get even better. It’s easy to say ‘it could be terrible’. It could be brilliant. It could be the greatest thing that’s ever happened to the club, but there is that other side – the flip side – of what you don’t know is quite scary.
The worry you’d have in that situation is what happened at Arsenal for a little while, where you did have a guy who came in and then he incrementally bought everyone out. You had some hostile moments in that period with Usmanov and Kroenke. There was a lot of stasis in Arsenal for a time when people disagreed fundamentally. If you sell a 25% share of Liverpool then it does raise the prospect of that and you get two, three conflicting voices.”
Could FSG in fact be ‘out’?! The club is valued at around ten times the amount the Boston-based conglomerate paid for it initially, so therefore a full sale would see them make a substantial profit. Battle lines are being drawn amongst fans, with some pining for a massive cash injection from any source, whilst others are less inclined towards a deal similar to those in place at PSG and Manchester City.
If FSG are to sell the club in its entirety, they will certainly be leaving it in a healthier state than when they took over in 2010. There was a rancorous mood amongst supporters at that time, with the wildly unpopular American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillette ousted following a period of pressure from fan groups. The club have since gone on to appear in three Champions League finals and end their 30-year spell without a league title. Anfield has been significantly redeveloped in the last decade, with a large extension to the Anfield Road stand currently being built. The club also moved into a state-of-the-art training complex in 2020.
With the club seemingly not being able to keep pace with rivals in terms of transfer spend, the news of its possible impending sale will be music to the ears of many around the world. The club could be at a crossroads at this very moment. Qatari Owners purchased Spanish side Málaga in 2010. Far from breaking the duopoly of Real Madrid and Barcelona, the Andalusian side went from the Champions League knockout stages in 2013 to being relegated in 2018, and are now rock bottom of the Spanish Segunda División. This shows that having a rich owner does not necessarily guarantee success. On the other hand, closer to home, Newcastle United have quickly transitioned from relegation candidates to a possible top-4 finish following their purchase by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Many fans are understandably nervous over a possible takeover. The Supporters Board agreed upon in 2021 ‘…will have influence and the power to say yes or no, in effect a blocking mechanism on issues that matter most to fans.’ It remains to be seen whether this will have any effect on the future ownership of the club. Some believe it is impossible to apply a strict moral code to the murky world of the ultra-rich, and therefore will not be concerned about who buys the club, provided success is retained on the pitch and significant investment in transfer funds is sanctioned.