Finance, FSG, The Board

So much has been written about Fenway Sports Group, or FSG as we know them. Opinions vary from some believing they saved us to others expressing downright dismay at what they perceive is a blatant sucking dry of this great institution.

In the dark days of Tom Hicks & George Gillett, Liverpool FC almost went under. This is not an exaggeration. It was a fact. Probably the only thing that initially delayed the guillotine was our reputation and future potential.  The blame naturally was focused on the gruesome twosome but our demise had its roots a little further back than them two ‘chancers’.

The financial world was in turmoil back in 2010. The credit crunch has taken its toll on many a share price but our ‘share’ price was low due to the total mess that we were in. Let’s not forget that JW Henry is a trader. He won’t buy high unless they’re in it for the long term and the dividends are rich but he would certainly buy low if the ‘share’ was attractive enough and even the most anti Liverpool fan would have to admit £295 million for English football’s most successful club with a global fan base itching for success was a total bargain.

Tom Hicks & George Gillett bought the club in March 2007, but left Liverpool in debt shortly after, and became an unpopular figure with supporters.

So that’s what happened.

Now many years ago I was privy to a conversation with a lawyer. This guy was a massive Liverpool fan and he told me that Manchester United had held a meeting based solely on how to bring down Liverpool. He knew this as he was close friends with one of United’s legal team.

At that time we as a team were still better than them but United held a trump card. Their business acumen was already light years ahead of us and the plan was to break Liverpool FC financially. They would increase their ground capacity. They would market themselves and patent anything with United’s association and if players were not up to it they were shifted. They also kept faith with a manager who although not the greatest tactician was without a shadow of a doubt a tough and brilliant motivator. Now is this sounding familiar?

I get the arguments against FSG. Liverpool are now worth a billion dollars. Amazing, yes amazing for FSG because if they sold us, they’d pocket the profit. It’s similar to having a large amount of equity in your home but being overdrawn all the time in your bank account. You have to watch the pennies but you know if you sold the property you’d be set for life.

FSG knew that if they could buy us, the ‘cheap property’, give us a lick of paint and improve the interior then they would likely have an incredibly secure and lucrative ‘rental’ income and of course be sat on an ever increasing asset.

FSG, whether we like it or not have dragged Liverpool FC out of the dark ages and in fairness they have in 6 years made great strides in catching up in financial terms the amazing money making machine that is Manchester United The irony is that as they have done this other clubs have done the same, maybe better and certain other clubs have benefited from rich owners that for whatever reason treat their club as a monopoly type plaything.

American owners John Henry & Tom Werner.

American owners John Henry & Tom Werner.

I was anti FSG for a long time. To be honest I’m still skeptical but only because I know we are now a business and they are businessmen. They are not a charity. I will never jump on the corporate bandwagon and revel in us being on such things as the Forbes list etc (some fans view the appearance of their club on this list as a trophy!). For me I love the club because it’s my city, my identity etc but I’ve mellowed towards FSG.  They took their chance like all successful traders. They have undoubtedly improved the stadium, employed a great manager and they are working within their means. They have made mistakes. They have miscalculated certain actions; the treatment of Kenny Dalglish as manager and the ticket price fiasco are 2 glaring ones for me. But in fairness they backed down. Kenny got a new role and seems as happy as he’s ever been and they did apologise over the tickets.

We as a club have to look at decades of missed financial opportunities as the core reason that we are we are now. I could write pages on that. FSG took advantage. I think one thing is certain the next owner(s) will not be getting us at discount price and we probably won’t get taken advantage of again.

Written by @redwazza1

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