When Fenway Sports Group purchased Liverpool Football Club on October 15th, 2010, it was a momentous day. The previous regime’s financial method had failed, and the club was on the verge of financial collapse. FSG purchased one of the most successful clubs in the world for £300 million.
Today, the club is worth around £4.5 billion. You would be hard-pressed to find a more successful investment in recent sports history.
The club has grown it’s revenue through various sponsorship deals, commercial deals and much more. They have tapped into the global market and realized the Reds are beloved worldwide and they have astutely capitalized on this.
However, a key factor driving this massive revenue turnaround has been the hiring of Jurgen Klopp and the ensuing on-field successes.
Winning and going deep in competitions makes it far easier to sell your product to investors and fans alike. This is where most agreements end, as the method used to achieve the on-field success varies from league to league, and club to club.
Chelsea’s longest run of success was during the Roman Abramovich era where money was no object and they bought the players they needed.
Coaches were secondary as there were 13 managers during his ownership era. 8 of those 13 won major silverware in their time with the Blues.
Another proponent of the buy whatever you need method has been Real Madrid. It really began during their Galacticos era where they tried to purchase every big name in football at the time. Their expenditures have not slowed down since.
What is fascinating about this is that Los Blancos have turned a profit in 3 of the last 5 years. The Real Madrid brand carries heavy cache with it which brings in mega broadcast and commercial deals.
Their home stadium also holds 80,000+ fans which means their Matchday revenue is sky high as well.
That last bit is important for Liverpool because as much as we all love Anfield, it’s capped at barely more than half of that capacity. However, recent developments to expand the stadium to 61,000 shows the club recognizes the need for more butts in seats.
Unfortunately, that is money that will be made in the future. As for the recent history and immediate future, fans are becoming slightly divided on FSG’s method of business.
The Reds have reached 3 Champions League Finals while also winning one of those 3 showcases. In addition, they finally won the Premier League and brought home other trophies such as the FA Cup, League Cup and Club World Cup.
FSG have never adopted the Abramovich, Real Madrid and PSG spending approach. They have been focused on positive net returns in all of their business dealings.
When the club sold Philippe Coutinho for £142 million, that money was used to purchase Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson.
Van Dijk became one of the best defenders in the world and was just named the new official Captain. Alisson has become the best keeper on the planet. Those two began the new era of dominance that we experienced over the last 5 years.
However, if Coutinho had been sold for £50 million, what would have been different? Would Liverpool have only purchased one of the them? None of them?
The fact that this is a question shows where some of the doubts about Fenway’s full commitment to the club arise.
Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Andy Robertson, Ibrahima Konate, James Milner and Fabinho all each cost less than £45 million for Liverpool to sign them.
Robertson was less than £10 million and Milner came on a free.
While it’s not a bad thing for a club to make shrewd business deals such as those, there are moments every transfer window when it feels like the club could have done more.
Not every marquee signing pays off. That is clear but a recent example of Liverpool “not being able” to afford a star was the Jude Bellingham debacle.
It was reported the club was preparing for 18 months to have the money to bring him to Anfield only to withdraw from the race at the 11th hour due to the asking price.
The club reportedly wanted to spread that money across multiple new signings which was not a bad move seeing as the entire midfield needed a revamp.
Alexis Mac Allister was brought in for a £35 million bargain because of a release clause. He was joined soon after by another release clause, this one €70 million for Dominik Szoboszlai.
However, since then the club’s coffers have seemingly dried up and while they are linked to every player under the sun, no more incomings have arrived. Romeo Lavia is the closest, as Southampton want £50 million.
Liverpool had an opening bid rejected and are said to be offering £45 million with the newest attempt. A cynic would think, a club of Liverpool’s stature should just pay the extra £5 million and get their man.
The constant haggling over prices from the Liverpool transfer room leaves a bitter taste in the mouth for some fans. The Reds are one of the biggest clubs in football and if they want someone, they should be able to go and get the deal done.
While we understand balancing the books and turning a profit whenever possible, your squad can be left behind if you are not comfortable opening the check book. Liverpool to their credit, have spent a fair amount of money to revamp their attack in recent years.
The problem arises because the club did not invest heavily once Klopp had his main squad. 1 or 2 big deals early and done became the norm.
This meant when the club had an inevitable mass exodus from an aging core, they would be forced to do something FSG hate, splash the cash in the transfer market.
To surmise, FSG saved Liverpool from the brink of bankruptcy. They funded the side that delivered the ever elusive Premier League title.
That Liverpool were beaten to the league titles in 2018/19 and 2021/22 by a combined 2 points to the limitless funds at Manchester City leaves fans and some media wondering, what if Klopp had been allowed to buy one more piece?
The Reds reached the pinnacle of the game in recent years without mega spending. They’re now at a crossroads. Take the Brighton business model and focus on turning profits and hope Klopp can coach his side up. Secondly, they can open the vault and spend more then they have before to make sure the talent is secured.
Whatever method the club chooses to go, will have lasting impacts for years to come.