“Significant Financial Interests” – Expert On The Pros And Cons Of MCO For Liverpool

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By Chris Cahillane

Fenway Sports Group are rumoured to be in the market to buy another football team and become the newest owner to own multiple football clubs at once. Liverpool’s outgoing CEO Mike Gordon recently said: “Multi-club ownership is part of the pathway and the vision that FSG have for their group.” So, what exactly is multi-club ownership and how will it affect Liverpool FC going forward?

Multi-club ownership (MCO) is when a single owner purchases multiple football clubs across different countries. It has become increasingly more popular in the past 20 years, with groups such as the City Group and Red Bull both operating successful organisations, despite their models having different structures.

The RedmenTV spoke exclusively to Jordan Gardner, a consultant for Twenty-First Group, who offered his expertise on the situation: “All multi-club ownerships are different. For example, the City Group have invested in teams around the world, planting flags in different global football markets, however, there is not as much of a flow of players between their clubs. This differs from the more linear model employed by Red Bull, where they move players internally from point A to point B.”

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Since FSG made the announcement that Michael Edwards was returning to the club with a new role as CEO of Football, it was clear the American owners have a multi-club plan going forward. With them seemingly opting for a concise and simple model of a parent club (Liverpool) and a feeder club, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this structure?

There are clear benefits for Liverpool FC and its ownership, primarily surrounding player development. Gardner said: “I see MCO as a player development tool and a way to use recruitment more creatively. Buying clubs in other countries presents opportunities for foreign players to settle and develop in a league they would be more comfortable in before making a big jump to the Premier League for example.” There can also be significant financial interests from the parent clubs, who can use their internal models to move players while still following the strict Profit and Sustainability Rules currently enforced by the Premier League.

MCOs can come with their downsides depending on the perspective you are looking at it from. For FSG, as they increase the amount of clubs in their portfolio, they might find a situation where time, money and resources are being drained on the other clubs instead of investing these into their main asset (Liverpool). There are also rules preventing MCO clubs from playing in the same European competitions which must be considered. From the perspective of the feeder clubs in this model, their club and fanbase might not be happy playing second fiddle to a bigger club within the same portfolio, especially if they feel they are neglected by their owners with resources being focused on bigger clubs within their MCO.

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For the Reds themselves, Gardner does not see many downsides as it could be a great opportunity to scout for talent abroad while offering a chance to academy players who are not quite ready for the Liverpool first team to develop in a top European league.

Overall, it is clear to Gardner why FSG are keen to move towards the multi-club model. “If an MCO is executed properly, Liverpool will be a stronger football club, they will have better players, better performances, and have more chances at success and winning trophies. It is an extension of your academy and recruitment systems, and therefore can directly strengthen the team’s on-pitch performance.”

You can follow Jordan Gardner on X @mrjordangardner

 

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