Liverpool sale: FSG want £500m as John Henry ‘has no interest in football’ after ‘lean’ ownership

Will Ford
Jurgen Klopp poses with Liverpool owner John W Henry.
Liverpool have won seven major trophies in FSG's time in charge, but the American owners are now looking to sell a further stake in the club.

Fenway Sports Group (FSG) reportedly want around £500m from a partial sale of Liverpool, according to a football finance expert.

FSG bought Liverpool from Tom Hicks and George Gillett for £300m in 2010 and have overseen great success in their time at the helm, with seven major trophies secured.

Last November – in an announcement that has been hugely overshadowed by the potential Manchester United takeover – FSG announced that they had put Liverpool on the market.

Though it wasn’t clear at the time whether a full sale was possible, owner John Henry later confirmed that FSG had held talks with parties over investment in the club.

Having sold 11% of the club to RedBird Capital Partners in April 2021, it’s now claimed that FSG are seeking between £400-500 million for a stake in the region of 10-15%.

Kieran Maguire, a senior lecturer in accountancy, finance and accounting at the University of Liverpool, outlined FSG’s hope of investment and explained how they’ve managed to run the club so successfully.

“FSG effectively acquired Liverpool – from the disaster that was Hicks and Gillett and Liverpool were pretty close to being in a very horrible position – for around £300 million,” said Maguire.

“They sold 11% of FSG – who also own American sports franchises – to RedBird Capital for around £500 million. They’ve got their money back but you’ve got to acknowledge that Liverpool are only part of the overall portfolio.

“They did announce less than a year ago that they were open to discussions in regard to the sale of Liverpool. That has sort of gone under the radar. All of the focus over the past seven or eight months has been in regard to [the sale of] Manchester United.

“It would now appear that FSG are willing to sell a minority stake direct into Liverpool. From what I’ve been told, we’re talking 10-15% of the club and are looking to get somewhere in the region of £400-500 million for that sale. They bought the whole club for £300 million, which is indicative. They’ve run the club in a pretty lean manner and pretty successful manner.

“In terms of the money they’ve put into the club, if you go to the accounts of the parent company called UKSV Holdings Ltd, you’ll find FSG have effectively loaned Liverpool £137 million interest-free. We see many other owners lending money to clubs and getting a kickback on it and that money has very much gone into infrastructure.

“If I take a look at Liverpool’s accounts for the past 10-15 years in which FSG have been in charge, nearly every year Liverpool have broken even and made some money in the transfer market and recycled that. There have been a couple of years when they lost money, clearly during Covid, but they aim to break even. From their point of view, there is no necessity from the owners to fund the transfer regime and the sale of the likes of [Luis] Suarez, [Philippe] Coutinho, [Raheem] Sterling and Co. They have actually generated a lot of money from the transfer market.

“Their net spend, and I know it’s something that gets some fans upset, has been modest. They’ve not put a huge amount in, the money they have has been invested, has been very focused, very laser-driven, based on doing the sums in advance – which isn’t glamourous but in terms of running and business and that’s how they see.

“If anyone thinks John Henry is a Liverpool fan, they’re daft. It is a franchise as far as he is concerned, you’ve only got to see his behaviour during Project Big Picture and the Super League that he’s got no interest in football but has got an interest in being a successful businessman.”

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