Liverpool’s owner Fenway Sports Group is 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 around £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 the buyer’s interest and the banks are expected to hear from any 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 it would affect their value – and a statement from FSG read: “There have been a number of recent ownership changes and rumors of ownership changes at EPL clubs and inevitably we regularly receive inquiries about Fenway Sports Groups ownership in Liverpool.
“FSG has frequently received expressions of interest from third parties wanting to become shareholders in Liverpool. FSG has previously said that under the right conditions we would consider new shareholders if it was in the best interests of Liverpool as a club.
“FSG remains fully committed to Liverpool’s success, 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 that put the total takeover value at £4.25 billion.
The strong dollar and weak pound have 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 in a late bid worth more than £4bn.
Liverpool is principally owned by John W Henry, along with 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 has also won the FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Community Shield during 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 have written to Liverpool asking for clarification on FSG’s current position.
A statement read: “We have seen reports today that FSG has put Liverpool FC up for sale.
“Spirit of Shankly have written to LFC for clarification and will await a response before commenting. However, we expect both the Supporters Board and SOS to be involved in some part of the process so that supporters are at the heart of every sale and the first the minds of potential owners.”
Analysis: No “for sale” sign but investment welcome
Sky Sports News Vinny O’Connor at Anfield:
“We have seen Liverpool’s owners open to external investment before. Don’t forget, in 2021 FSG actually sold 11 percent to RedBird Capital Partners for around £650m and they reiterated that they are open to external investment, but also reaffirmed their commitment to Liverpool and its success.
“It follows reports that they had actually pitched Liverpool earlier with the reports suggesting they are inviting offers for the club with major investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley brought in to help the valuation process. As of May this year, Liverpool were valued to around £3.89 billion by Forbes.
“In all cases [in FSG’s statement]they did not address the reports that investment banks had been brought in to watch the valuation process.
“But you look at what FSG have achieved with Liverpool here. They spent £300m on the takeover in 2010 and it’s a completely different place to what it was then.
“They hired Jurgen Klopp in 2015 and since then they have been able to bring in a much-anticipated and long-awaited Premier League title. It was the Champions League, the League Cup, an FA Cup, a Club World Cup, and a European Super Cup.
“Add to that, Main Stand [at Anfield] cost £110m, the £80m Anfield Road development is also continuing apace. What is included in 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 tough times for FSG as an ownership group as well. In 2019 they tried to trademark the name ‘Liverpool’ which didn’t go down well with the supporters. They did a U-turn after the negative reaction to the proposal of redundancies during the Covid pandemic.
“There was another U-turn on plans to raise ticket prices and again fans protested and ownership took notice. Last year John W Henry apologized for Liverpool’s part in the proposed European Super League.
“As it stands, it is 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.”
Liverpool owner ‘has two options’
Football finance expert Kieran Maguire told Sky Sports News:
“I think they have two options. They could take a minority investment to generate some cash. I think there’s an alternative view that Fenway Sports Group could potentially feel they’ve gone as far as they can with Liverpool FC
“They bought it for £300m, they can sell it for 12-14 times that [now]and they are now competing against sovereign wealth funds – we have added Newcastle to 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 have seven clubs fighting for four places.
“In the short term, Liverpool are in a strong financial position. Fenway Sports Group has run the club really well, they have a break-even model and they have made money from transfer sales in recent years.
“For the transfer market in the very short term, I think the club will be a bit cautious while Fenway Sports Group knows they have to invest to be competitive.
“The [FSG] have invested in infrastructure, they’ve taken this moneyball approach to recruiting and retaining players, and that means they’ve punched above their weight.
“If we take a look at the period since Sir Alex Ferguson retired [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’ve probably been the only main challengers to Manchester City over the last three or four years – I know they’ve had a bad season so far – but it depends on how they run the business. and how they has targeted players.”
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