A multi-million dollar private investment will see a little touch of Hollywood brought to a small southern Manitoba town.
Liverpool are out of the Champions League and continue to battle for top four qualification as talks over investment continue.
Since November, the Reds have been open to minority investment after John Henry confirmed that they were not open to selling the six-time European champions.
At Old Trafford, however, talks are ramping up as Sir Jim Ratcliffe battles with Qatari investors over the takeover of Manchester United. The Glazer family put the Red Devils up for sale weeks after news of Liverpool’s plans. At Anfield, there has been some potential investors named that could be brought in alongside FSG while they attract new shareholders.
Henry spoke to the ECHO recently about their long-term plans for the club. In a rare interview, he discussed the current state of play with regards to investment, FSG’s commitment to the future and plans in the transfer market.
“While we formalised a process that has identified potential investors for the club, we remain fully committed to the long-term success of the club.
“That has been the case since day one in 2010. Our efforts every day have been and continue to be focused on the long-term health and competitiveness of the club. Investment in the club is never for the short-term. This approach has been successful over the long haul with patience necessary from time to time.”
FSG $140m BOOST COULD PROVIDE LIVERPOOL CLUE
The valuation of the Fenway Sports Group-owned Boston Red Sox has remained ahead of Liverpool despite a challenging economic climate.
US sports business website Sportico published their annual Major League Baseball valuations on Tuesday, with the 2023 list showing that the Red Sox, who have been owned by FSG since 2002, now held a value of $5.21bn (£4.29bn) despite difficulties for the MLB surrounding the struggles of regional sports TV networks (RSNs) due to 30 per cent slump in cable subscriptions over the past seven years, down from 100m.
The valuation of the Red Sox given by Sportico is two pronged, including the businesses that are related to the club and the real estate that it owns. FSG’s real estate portfolio has grown considerably around Fenway Park in recent years with a significant development currently in the works on streets around the stadium as well as the construction of a 5,000-seater music venue a short walk away from the Red Sox’s home that was opened last year.
The valuation of the Red Sox as a baseball club comes in at $4.18bn (£3.44bn), a figure less than the most recent $4.45bn (£3.66bn) valuation Forbes magazine had placed upon Liverpool. FSG are understood to value Liverpool at around £4bn in relation to their search for investment into the football club.
LIVERPOOL HOLD £194M GAP OVER MAN UNITED
The value of transfer rights for Liverpool’s squad is significantly higher than Manchester United’s but trails Premier League champions Manchester City by some £456m.
Analysts from the CIES Football Observatory have calculated the estimated transfer rights for European football’s major clubs, the figures including the value of players in the squad, players out on loan and sell-on fees that exist on players that have been sold.
CIES place the value of transfer rights held by Liverpool for the above, based on 44 players, at €943m (£829m), a figure that places them sixth on the European list, behind Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City.
Manchester City top the list with a squad value of €1.46bn (£1.28bn) attributed to 46 players. Barcelona, with six players fewer, sit second with total transfer rights of €1.36bn (£1.2bn), with Real Madrid third on the list with a figure of €1.13bn (£990m) for 46 players.
The Reds’ transfer rights value is significantly higher than Manchester United, however, with the Old Trafford side sitting ninth on the list with €722m (£634.7m) based on 43 players. That is a figure that places Liverpool some £194m above.
FSG INVESTOR REVEALS $350M LIVERPOOL REGRET
Fenway Sports Group partner Gerry Cardinale says that one of the biggest regrets in his career was not purchasing Liverpool in 2008.
Cardinale, whose RedBird firm paid $750m for an 11 per cent stake in FSG back in March 2021 and have since acquired a controlling stake in Italian giants AC Milan, was quizzed on what he would tell his ‘20-year-old self’ when he appeared on a panel at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference recently.
Cardinale said: “The advice to my 20-year-old self? I started the YES Network with George Steinbrenner when I was 33 years old, so the advice to my 33-year-old self would have been the inkling that we had a few years later to go and buy Liverpool at a $350m valuation.
“Goldman (Sachs) shut me down on that and we would have done that a lot earlier and that would have been pretty good.”
LEBRON JAMES INCREASES EQUITY WITH FSG
LeBron James is increasing his equity in Fenway Sports Group – the owners of Liverpool, Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Penguins. US business outlet Sportico reported on Friday afternoon that James will strengthen his involvement as “part of a lifetime marketing deal” which was recently signed.
And in a statement released by FSG, the details were confirmed. The group said: “FSM [Fenway Sports Management] and LRMR Ventures have extended their longstanding strategic partnership into a lifetime deal that will allow FSM to continue to secure exclusive, global marketing and sponsorship opportunities for four-time NBA Champion LeBron James.
“As part of the agreement, James, and co-founder of LRMR Ventures Maverick Carter will receive additional equity in FSM’s parent company FSG. James and Carter became members of FSG’s ownership group in 2021.”
JOHN HENRY REVEALS FSG PLAN FOR LIVERPOOL IN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE ECHO
Liverpool principal owner John W. Henry says the commitment of Fenway Sports Group to the Reds remains “stronger than ever”, in an exclusive interview with the ECHO.
Since November and the revelations that FSG could be open to selling their majority stake in the club, rumours have been rife around what the future holds for Liverpool and its owners who took over in 2010.
In a rare interview, Henry has now spoken exclusively to the ECHO about the current state of play with regards to investment, FSG’s commitment to the future and plans in the transfer market.
“While we formalised a process that has identified potential investors for the club, we remain fully committed to the long-term success of the club,” said Henry.
“That has been the case since day one in 2010. Our efforts every day have been and continue to be focused on the long-term health and competitiveness of the club. Investment in the club is never for the short-term. This approach has been successful over the long haul with patience necessary from time to time.
“In regard to Liverpool Football Club our commitment remains stronger than ever. The club continues to make great progress with youth on the field and off. Our Foundation is well supported and continues to quietly expand the importance of its work in different ways looking for as many small kindnesses as possible individually and hopefully cumulatively.
“The people of this club starting with its manager, its players and everyone from stewards to management are committed to the club locally, committed to maintaining the club’s great history and equally committed to making new history in a way that our supporters can be proud of.
“Being a part of this club is something no one takes for granted.”
WHY FSG COULD BE FACING A PROBLEM IN THEIR LIVERPOOL INVESTMENT SEARCH
With the Manchester United sale process having appeared to have reached something of an impasse over just how much they are worth, there has been more focus around valuations of football clubs.
Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group are understood to place a value of £4bn on the Reds – a figure some £3.7bn higher than the purchase price back in 2010.
Reports of would-be owners from the Middle East being in advanced talks were wide of the mark and FSG principal John Henry, in a recent Q&A interview with the Boston Sports Journal, finally put to bed the sale talk by taking the club off the table.
But are investors into European football prepared?
Speaking at the Financial Times’ Business of Football Summit at the Biltmore Mayfair Hotel in London on Thursday, where the ECHO was in attendance, Mike Forde, executive chairman at Sportsology, a firm that works with team owners, leagues and institutional investors, said: “I’ve been in the US now 10 years and early on I would often get this email from an NBA owner that said, ‘listen, I’ve got this team Newcastle and the broker has told me it’s only 15 minutes from London on the Concorde and it sounds like a great opportunity. The TV deal is two thirds of the NFL and I can buy it for 10 per cent’.
“And then they go through the process of the purchase they hit the first transfer window, and then the second transfer window and realise they’ve spent twice the purchase price in the first two transfer windows. Then you start thinking about what is the real cost of acquisition.
“If the team loses, unless you are the Boston Red Sox (who FSG also own) or someone like that, then you don’t really have a problem. If you buy into a team in European football and you’re not winning games then there is a pressure on the ownership straight away.
“The way to solve that pressure is the transfer market. They come in at a certain price and they forget about the bait price over the next two or three years.
“Sophisticated investors are thinking about the cost of being competitive, over the lifespan of the growth. When you have an exit, as part of a fund there is a five-to-year rise and a cost to being competitive. So what is that true cost?”
STEPHEN PAGLIUCA ADDRESSES LIVERPOOL INVESTMENT QUESTION
The owner of Italian side Atalanta and the Boston Celtics NBA team hasn’t ruled himself out of a potential investment play in Liverpool.
US billionaire Stephen Pagliuca, who has headed up operations at investment fund Bain Capital for the last 30 years, was part of the bidding process for Chelsea last year, reaching the latter stage of the race before losing out to Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital.
Pagliuca, 68, had been one of the names linked with potential investment in Liverpool following the November reveal that Reds owners Fenway Sports Group were actively looking to sell a stake in the club in a bid to recapitalise the business.
Financial sources close to the matter in the US have told the ECHO that the Liverpool owners are leaning towards a ‘strategic partner’, potentially a media and entertainment firm, that could provide both capital and expertise to scale the business into the future.
FSG LIKELY TO PRESS AHEAD WITH SEARCH FOR STRATEGIC PARTNER’
Liverpool are likely to press ahead with their search for a ‘strategic partner’ investment.
Last week the Reds’ principal owner John Henry, in a Q&A with the Boston Sports Journal, revealed Fenway Sports Group were not looking to sell the club and a minority partner was their preferred course of action, with Henry stating FSG were ‘talking to investors’.
Back in December, well-placed financial sources in the US told the ECHO it was FSG’s preference to align themselves with a ‘strategic partner’, potentially a media and entertainment company that could provide capital as well as expertise in how to scale the business moving forward, potentially with one eye on accreting a minority stake into a majority over time.
After Henry’s comments put to bed gossip that had dominated the agenda since November, the focus has now shifted to accelerating the talks with potential investors and recapitalising the business ahead of what is likely to be an expensive summer rebuild that requires a significant dent in cash flow.
NEWCASTLE DIRECTOR EXPLAINS LIVERPOOL TAKEOVER STANCE
Newcastle director Amanda Staveley has explained why the Saudi-led consortium chose Newcastle United as opposed to Liverpool.
The 49-year-old claimed that they would have to spend “billions” in order to take over at Anfield, while namedropping London clubs; Tottenham and Chelsea.
Liverpool have been looking for investment since FSG made the announcement at the beginning of November. It has been a slow-moving process as Manchester United are also eyeing a takeover following the Glazer family’s decision in the weeks following the Reds announcement.
Speaking at the Financial Times Football conference, Staveley said, as reported by Rob Harris: “We didn’t go for the wonderful Tottenham, Chelsea or Liverpool” because “why spend billions.”
FSG ‘TARGETING’ INVESTMENT FROM MAJOR MEDIA COMPANIES
Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group are said to be targeting major media companies as investors as they look for increased financial support.
The Reds had opened the door for further investment in November and while reports suggested the club were put up for sale, owner John Henry confirmed are not selling the club. During the Americans time in at the helm, Jurgen Klopp has helped steer Liverpool to the pinnacle of English and European football.
In an article from the Telegraph, FSG are examining major media companies as potential investors. Giants such as Liberty Media are said to have emerged as a contender for investment.
The American company are known for their ownership of global sport, Formula One (F1), when they took control of the franchise in 2016 after a deal worth £6bn. They also own Baseball team Atlanta Braves and the SiriusXM Group boasting an estimated net worth of £17.5bn according to Forbes.
FUNDS WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE BY JOHN HENRY
Liverpool owner John Henry has confirmed FSG are not necessarily selling the club after months of speculation.
Fenway Sports Group were revealed back in November that to be in search of investment into Liverpool, but rumours surfaced of them being open to a full sale.
Henry, who doesn’t often speak in public, allowed for questions via email and confirmed his intentions not to sell the club.
The Times’ Paul Joyce wrote of Henry’s full support of Jurgen Klopp after a difficult season at campaign and there are reportedly ‘funds available’ for the summer.
His article claimed: “Liverpool’s principal owner remains fully supportive of Jurgen Klopp despite a difficult season for the manager. He also said funds will be made available to make changes to the squad.”
JOHN HENRY BREAKS SILENCE ON FUTURE OF LIVERPOOL
Liverpool owner John Henry says that he is not selling the club.
Reds owners Fenway Sports Group were revealed back in November to be searching for investment into Liverpool as they sought to recapitalise the business ahead of a potentially costly time, but with sales deck prepared for interested parties they were also reportedly open to a full sale.
Henry, who rarely speaks in public, allowed for some questions via email from Boston Red Sox reporters ahead of the first day of spring training in Florida, where he, wife Linda, Liverpool chairman Tom Werner and FSG CEO Sam Kennedy were present. And in the responses posed to questions from Boston Sports Journal writer Sean McAdam, Henry confirmed that FSG were not selling Liverpool.
“I know there has been a lot of conversation and quotes about LFC (Liverpool Football Club), but I keep to the facts: we merely formalized an ongoing process,” he said.
“Will we be in England forever? No. Are we selling LFC? No. Are talking with investors about LFC? Yes. Will something happen there? I believe so, but it won’t be a sale. Have we sold anything in the past 20+ years?”
Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, the chairman of one of Qatar’s biggest banks, last night confirmed his foundation will bid to buy Manchester United.
The Glazer family, who bought United in 2005, set a soft deadline of 10pm on Friday night for offers as the Qatari made his bid official – in what is a potential blow to Liverpool.
It is also understood Ineos, owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, have made a bid to take control of United as FSG watch on with interest.
It is also expected that at least two offers for United from the United States will arrive, while there have been suggestions of interest from Saudi Arabia.
SIR MARTIN BROUGHTON REVEALS WHAT TOM WERNER SAID ABOUT FSG
Sir Martin Broughton revealed he has personally been told by Liverpool chairman Tom Werner that FSG are in no rush to sell the club.
The former Reds chairman also revealed that the idea to sell Liverpool was brought on by Roman Abramovich’s £4.25 billion sale of Chelsea last year.
In an exclusive chat with the ECHO, Sir Martin said: “I spoke to Tom Werner and asked him were they seeking to sell? Were they seeking investment? What was the objective? And he said: ‘There isn’t one. We’re testing the water. If there is an offer that is a very high figure then we’d be daft not to look at it.
“‘If there is an investor that wants to come, we’d certainly be willing to look at that and we wouldn’t be at all surprised if we didn’t get either and we continued to hold it. We’re comfortable with that too. So it wasn’t that we have got an exit plan, it was more that testing the markets to see what is out there.'”
TRUTH EMERGES ON QATARI ‘TALKS’ OVER LIVERPOOL SALE
Liverpool have now been on the market for over 100-days and rumours have been flying all over social media about the potential interest from the Middle East.
Reds owners FSG are in no rush to sell the club despite what social media may think and the truth has now emerged over the reported interest coming from Qatar.
The rumour of interest from Qatar took a hold of Liverpool supporters as they started dreaming of the riches that could soon be coming to Anfield.
Dave Powell of the ECHO wrote in his latest piece about the ‘interest’: “Social media heated up with the Qatari rumours, but well-placed sources in the US with intimate knowledge of the situation have maintained the line to the ECHO that while there may have been interest privately in Liverpool no bid or expression of formal interest was presented to FSG that required any kind of high-level discussion, and no talks were held with the QIA. Claims of QIA chiefs being in Liverpool to meet with Reds owner John W. Henry were also erroneous.”
FORMER LIVERPOOL CHAIRMAN SIR MARTIN BROUGHTON REVEALS TALKS WITH BILLIONAIRE INVESTORS
Sir Martin Broughton has revealed he spoke to members of a consortium of billionaires about potentially investing in Liverpool.
But the former British Airways chairman admits London is generally viewed as a more viable option to those looking to invest in Premier League clubs, despite Reds owners Fenway Sports Group open to offers for either a partial or full sale at Anfield.
Broughton did however suggest that some of the people already involved with FSG and the ownership of Liverpool FC could potentially emerge to play a more prominent role in the club’s investment in the future.
He said: “FSG have taken in other investors into their operations, so in some ways, they have kind of – Tom and John – created and realised some of their value by bringing other people into FSG level rather than Liverpool level and you know, some of those guys might come forward with a more direct investment in Liverpool at some stage.”
FSG ‘TO BACK SUMMER REBUILD’
Liverpool are ready to fight back after a dismal season by funding Jurgen Klopp to rebuild his squad in the summer.
That’s according to Jonathan Northcroft of the Sunday Times, who is reporting that there is an acknowledgement within the club that younger, fresh blood is needed. The report also claims that Borussia Dortmund midfield star, Jude Bellingham, is among Liverpool’s principal targets.
FSG ‘LOOKING FOR’ 10 TO 15 PER CENT SALE
FSG are searching for a sale of between 10 and 15 per cent, it has been suggested.
Although certain reports suggested back in November a full sale of Liverpool was on the agenda, FSG’s preference remains to only sell a minority stake in the club as they look to strengthen their ability to compete with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United in the transfer market.
Offering an update on the situation, football finance expert Kieran Maguire has claimed FSG are ‘only looking for a 10-15% sale’ having ‘tested the market’.
FSG originally purchased the club for £300million and have set a valuation for Liverpool between £2.7bn and more than £4bn, based on conflicting reports.
SIR MARTIN BROUGHTON CASTS DOUBT OVER FSG VALUATION OF LIVERPOOL
Sir Martin Broughton says he has doubts over how much FSG are reportedly valuing Liverpool amid talk of a potential sale.
Broughton held a temporary position as chairman of Liverpool, as he helped FSG complete the takeover of the club in 2010. The 75-year-old, who was knighted in 2011 for services to business, has had his say on the reported valuation of £4bn which has been placed on the club.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Broughton said: “I would question whether they’ll [United and Liverpool] get the kind of prices they floated.”
He continued: “With Chelsea – and I think Arsenal and Tottenham would fall into the same category – the people we spoke to tended to be overseas billionaires who had a pad in London and the pad in London was in Knightsbridge or Kensington, Chelsea or something.
“So when they came to London, they went to Chelsea. They were football fans, and they were Chelsea fans… they’re not going to be bidders for Liverpool or Manchester United because they’ve got a pad in London and they’re not planning to move their pad to Manchester or Liverpool.
“So it’s a different type of buyer to the ones that we were looking for with our consortium.”
QATARI BUSINESSMEN SET TO BID FOR MANCHESTER UNITED ‘WITHIN DAYS’
There’s not been too much noise on the potential sale of Liverpool Football Club over the past few weeks, but that might be about to change for their rivals, Manchester United.
According to the Mail, Qatari investors will launch a ‘mega-money’ bid for the Red Devils in the coming days.
The reports claims that sources have revealed a group of private, high-wealth individuals in Qatar, who are ready to takeover what they view as ‘football’s crown jewels’.
The group is expected to launch a bid before the current owners’ February deadline that they believe will blow any competition out of the water.
The bid would come from separate Qatari investors and not Qatar Sports Investments, who currently own Paris Saint Germain. It is believed to be a full takeover bid and not a minority investment.
REDBIRD CAPITAL NOT IN TALKS OVER UPPING FSG STAKE
RedBird Capital Partners, the New York-based investment firm that owns 11 per cent of Fenway Sports Group, are not currently in discussions to increase their shareholding in Liverpool’s owners.
RedBird, owners of both Serie A side AC Milan and Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, have been the third biggest shareholders in FSG since they concluded a $750m deal with Liverpool’s parent company back in March of 2021.
The fund, which has over $7.5bn in assets under management, were linked over the weekend by reports suggesting they were considering increasing their 11 per cent stake in FSG, who also own the Boston Red Sox MLB team and Pittsburgh Penguins NHL franchise, as part of FSG’s search for outside investment and fresh capital into the business.
However, well-placed sources in the US have told the ECHO that there are currently no talks being had between the two parties over an increase in RedBird’s shareholding in FSG, nor are there presently any planned talks, with RedBird ‘not involved in the Liverpool investment/sale process’.
The ECHO does understand, however, that RedBird founder Gerry Cardinale won’t rule out further investment into FSG beyond the current 11 per cent that RedBird currently hold in the future, but the focus for the AC Milan owners on growing their portfolio is concentrated in other areas at present.
FSG READY FOR INVESTMENT OFFERS AS SALE SEARCH RAMPS UP
The search for investment into Liverpool by Fenway Sports Group will likely hot up in February and March as interested parties potentially make their moves formal.
FSG are open to selling their full shareholding of the football club should someone come in over and above the $4bn mark, although the preference of principal owner John W. Henry has been one of sourcing partial investment through an equity share sale that would allow them to raise capital to aid their required team building and other infrastructure projects.
There has yet to be any formal offers made for the club and serious discussions with any parties have yet to take place. There will be interest in an asset such as Liverpool, one with a global fan base and appeal, but FSG are in no rush to part company with the club. Instead, they would prefer to find a ‘strategic partner’ that could aid their goals, reduce some risk and burden on their shoulders and provide them with an exit route in the future through any minority investor accreting their interest into a majority stake over time.
The next month or so could well see some of the interest that has yet to show itself formally crystallise, with US institutional investors and private equity firms and money from the MENA region likely to be assessing their options.
Read the latest from Dave Powell right here.
JOHN HENRY FACES ANOTHER TODD BOEHLY IMPACT AS LIVERPOOL SEARCH FOR £320M ANSWER
Liverpool’s approach under FSG, always a divisive topic, has remained consistent throughout their tenure. Raise revenues to reinvest in the team in a sustainable manner and sell players no longer required at top market prices to prop up spending in the transfer market. While Manchester City may have spent big money in the pre-FFP years to build their own foundations to success, and where they have been able to add major talent at key times, they have started to pivot towards a model where spend is backed up to a greater extent by revenue and their ability to trade players at high prices.
Chelsea is a different beast right now. Football hasn’t seen a play such as theirs before and it is one that is impossible to call on just how it will play out in the long run. For all the headline spend the reality is that there will need to be a return on that investment at some point given that Clearlake and Boehly are committing capital from investors to their Chelsea project right now. They believe that can reach revenues of £1bn in time as new opportunities emerge through new markets, new technologies being able to reach a global audience and a broadcast landscape that will pivot from its traditional home to a new one that will involve more direct to consumer opportunities for clubs moving forward.
LIVERPOOL ‘HEADING’ TOWARDS MINORITY INVESTMENT
Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group are “heading” towards a minority investment in the club rather than a full sale, according to reports in America.
And CBS’s Ben Jacobs claimed on Thursday that interest from the Middle East region and more specifically Qatar is yet to arrive at the hands of the club’s owners.
Speaking in a Twitter Q and A, Jacobs said: ” “Definitely some Saudi interest in #MUFC. February a key month after initial due diligence is done. Then we’ll see some groups shortlisted. #LFC heading towards minority investment. Nothing significant from Qatar yet.”
The ECHO’s Business of Football Writer Dave Powell has long reported that the Anfield owners are more willing to sell part of their stake on Merseyside rather than sanction a full sale.
After spending time with industry insiders in America last month, the ECHO reported that: “In terms of things moving quickly it is understood that isn’t the case and the expectation from well-placed sources in America is that it could be a fairly drawn out process where the final outcome may simply be minority investment.”
FSG REACH NEW MILESTONE WITH $600M BOOST
The total value of Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group’s empire has broken through the $10bn mark.
FSG, whose ownership of the Reds, the Boston Red Sox MLB team, the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL franchise, NASCAR’s RSK Racing and a number of other sports, entertainment and real estate related businesses has seen them become one of the world’s biggest sporting empires, has a total value that now stands at $10.4bn according to Forbes magazine.
The rise is some $600m from the 2022 list, although they do drop a place to fourth after being leap-frogged by Jerry Jones ($11.3bn), the owner of NFL’s most valuable franchise, the Dallas Cowboys. FSG remain behind Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke’s Kroenke Sports & Entertainment ($12.75bn) whose investments also include the Los Angeles Rams, Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets, while Formula One and Atlanta Braves owners Liberty Media top the list at $20.8bn.
The $10.4bn (£8.46bn) is a jump from the $9.8bn (£7.97bn) from 2022, the rise aided by the increasing valuations of Liverpool, the Red Sox and the Penguins, as well as other investments that the business made, including the MGM Music Hall adjacent to Fenway Park Stadium in Boston which opened to the public last year.
Of the other sporting empires that have Premier League teams in their portfolio, Manchester United and Tampa Bay Buccaneers owners the Glazer family placed eighth ($7.53bn) while Manchester City owners City Football Group’s multi-club model is valued at $5.96bn.
LIVERPOOL £535m BOOST COULD INFLUENCE SALE AS FSG PLAN NEXT STEPS
Liverpool’s valuation has risen by as much as £535m over the past two years according to analysts from US sports business website Sportico.
Reds owners Fenway Sports Group are currently in the process of sourcing fresh investment into the club through a partial sale, although they would be willing to listen to offers of a full sale. The latter is understood to not be principal owner John W. Henry’s preference at this time.
The valuation of the club is something that has been a hot topic, with the Reds, acquired in 2010 by FSG for just over £300m, in play with a valuation north of $4bn. Sources with knowledge of the deal in the US told the ECHO last month that only offers above and beyond $4bn would spark any kind of high level talks.
No formal talks have been held as yet, while there has been no bid received for the football club or concrete interest that has warranted serious discussions. That could change in the coming weeks, however, with interest likely to be put to FSG through Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, the investment banks facilitating the search, with US private equity and institutional investors likely to show their hand in some form. Interest from the MENA region could also be presented, although nothing has materialised as yet.FSG know the value of Liverpool as an asset and if a partial sale is to be their preferred option when the final decision is taken, a higher price would mean a far greater influx of capital, some of which will be redeployed to aid the regeneration of the team to ensure a competitive future that allows for the continued growth of the club.
Read the full story, here.
FSG HAVE THREE CREDIBLE OPTIONS
After the defeat to Brighton there was a significant buzz around the possibility of bids from Qatar incoming, some going as far as suggesting that talks were at an advanced stage. Following the 0-0 draw with Chelsea at the weekend there was further chatter after a paragraph in a Daily Mail article claimed that the the Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, was in talks with FSG, although stressing that no bid had been made.
The ECHO spent considerable time in the US last year with dealmakers in New York. Sources in the US with intimate knowledge of the process have maintained to the ECHO that the stance remains that there has been no bids for the club or any high level talks as yet, and that a partial sale of the football club that would provide them with the capital for reinvestment would be the preferred outcome, with a “strategic partner” that FSG could be bedfellows with who could also bring expertise to scale the business and the opportunities that Liverpool have to release some latent value in a rapidly changing, and increasingly valuable marketplace.
Sources say that there has been no “real” interest to this point, pertaining to bids for the club or high level talks with FSG chiefs, but there will be interest in Liverpool as an asset from various people in various markets and for various reasons.
Read the full story from Dave Powell here.
HOPES OF A FULL SALE OF LIVERPOOL ARE “GRADUALLY FADING”
Hopes of a full sale takeover of Liverpool are ‘gradually fading’ according to the Telegraph’s Sam Wallace. FSG are still looking for investors to come in with a cash injection with additions to the squad much needed.
This goes along with what the ECHO’s Dave Powell has been saying for a number of weeks as FSG would prefer to keep a stake in the club unless their full valuation is met.
Wallace said: “At Liverpool, hopes of a full sale are gradually fading and the compromise might be the sale of part of the club that raises funds that can be reinvested.
“The relationship between Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool’s fanbase, if not in all quarters of it, is relatively becalmed, at least in comparison to United and the Glazers.”
LIVERPOOL ‘IN TAKEOVER TALKS’ WITH QIA OFFICIALS
Liverpool are described as being in ‘takeover talks’ with officials representing the Qatar Investment Authority.
Rumours began to circulate over the QIA last week, with images and news reports from the Middle East being widely shared on social media. The ECHO understands no formal bid has been launched for the club or indeed expressions of serious interest to generate high-level discussions.
Offering their take on the situation, The Daily Mail have claimed the QIA are ‘open’ to a full takeover or acquiring a majority stake but are ‘willling to walk away’ if a deal cannot be struck.
JOHN HENRY MET WITH BOOS AS THREE-YEAR SILENCE BROKEN
Liverpool principal owner John W. Henry was met with boos as he appeared to speak in front of Boston Red Sox fans for the first time in almost three years on Friday night.
Fenway Sports Group chief Henry, 72, was appearing on stage at the Red Sox’s Winter Weekend event in Springfield, Massachusetts, an event that was designed to be a feel-good chance for fans to connect with the team ahead of the beginning of Spring Training at the beginning of March, the pre-cursor to the start of the Major League Baseball season.
Henry had not appeared in person in front of fans to speak publicly since FSG faced considerable ire from Red Sox fans for the trading of star Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 2020, his only other public comments coming when he delivered an apology to Liverpool fans for his part in dragging the club into the failed European Super League saga.
The boos arrived when the softly spoken Henry, who so often eschews the glare of the media spotlight, stated that the reason for high ticket prices at Fenway Park was that “baseball players are expensive.”
Dave Powell has more, here.
FSG STANCE ON SELLNG AS TRUTH BEHIND QATAR AND LIVERPOOL TALK EMERGES
In the wake of Liverpool’s chastening Premier League defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday the Twitter rumour mill went into overdrive.
With Fenway Sports Group open regarding their exploration of a potential sale of the club there have been many potential bidders and interested parties mentioned, from American private equity firms to Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds. The latter became a hot topic and the source of much social media discourse in recent days with the suggestion that there was serious interest from Qatar and that a deal could be close.
The stance from those the ECHO have spoken to in the US with intimate knowledge of where FSG are currently at with the process maintain that there has, to this point, been no bid for Liverpool Football Club or indeed any real expressions of serious interest that has warranted high level discussion. The narrative around Qatari interest has been driven from social media accounts from Qatar, whose sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, will be making a sports investment play in 2023 as they look to build on the success of the 2022 World Cup that was held in the Gulf nation.
FSG have a valuation that they would want to be met, and that is $4bn or above to even have a conversation.
The same sources have told the ECHO have previously revealed that, notwithstanding an offer that would be too good to refuse, the preference of FSG principal John W. Henry and some key FSG partners, including those whose investment in FSG represents the investments of other people, would be a partial sale that would allow them to retain control while bringing on board a “strategic partner” that can bring both scalable capital and some expertise that would allow them to realise some of the latent value that investors believe exists for major Premier League assets.
QATAR INVESTMENT AUTHORITY BREAK SILENCE ON PLANS
The CEO of Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of the Gulf nation, says that they are looking at investing in football clubs but have not yet made up their mind.
With the World Cup in Qatar now over attention has turned to leveraging the success of the competition and pushing ahead with investment plans in sport, with QIA likely to add sporting assets to their $450bn fund over the course of the next 12 to 18 months.
One of those teams that has been rumoured to be in the sights of QIA is Liverpool, with the Reds owners Fenway Sports Group open to offers for the club for both a full takeover and a minority stake depending on the partner.
As things stand there has been no bid lodged for Liverpool Football Club and no high level talks that are close to any kind of conclusion, with sources in the US telling the ECHO that little had changed since November and that there was, as yet, no “real” interest to come forward and engage with FSG around a takeover or investment.
Speaking to Bloomberg at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud, QIA’s CEO said: “Football, the clubs and the sport is becoming very commercialised in a way, especially now fans are looking into this as an experience, so they would like to and experience and entertain themselves.
“At the same time digitalisation is becoming very important for this. So, the business model of these institutions is becoming very commercialised and very investment friendly. You will not be surprised if we invest in this.
“We have not made our mind yet but this is a very commercially driven decision that we go through. And again, sports is becoming a very important theme as well, people are engaged more in a sport and digitalisation is making it more attractive to investors.”
PSG OWNERS QSI AND THE TRUTH ABOUT LIVERPOOL ‘TAKEOVER’
Paris Saint Germain owners Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) won’t be able to make a full takeover play for the Reds despite the alleged ‘meeting’ with Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.
It had first emerged that CEO and president of the French giants, Nasser Al Kehlafi, had met with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy earlier this month and as a result, both Manchester United and the six-time Champions League winners have been linked.
Ismael Mahmoud, an Egyptian journalist, shared a picture on Monday that showed a group of five men meeting in a restaurant in the English capital. Two of the party were said to be Al Khelaifi and Salah.
However, no talks have been held with those at the top at Anfield and QSI. As it stands, there is no chance of a Qatari Sports Investment takeover of a major Premier League club unless they dump their controlling interest in the Parisiens, as reported by Echo’s Business of Football writer Dave Powell. They could purchase a minority stake, which would go towards the capital that FSG are seeking and, in turn, take full control in time.
QSI are planning for an ambitious 12 months with a move into the English top flight part of the thinking but any stake they hold could not be a controlling one or be a meaningful one given the conflict of interests having two major European teams fighting regularly in the Champions League.
QATAR ‘GIVING PRIORITY’ TO ACQUIRING LIVERPOOL
Qatari investors are reportedly ‘giving priority’ to the acquisition of Liverpool as speculation continues over FSG’s future.
A latest report by Sports Illustrated has shared an update on the situation based on information provided by Qatari journalist, Mohammed Saeed Alkaabi.
It is stated there is ‘serious interest’ in Liverpool from Qatar but no deal has been proposed at this stage.
SIR MARTIN BROUGHTON ‘NOT IN THE FRAME’ FOR TAKEOVER
Former Liverpool chairman Sir Martin Broughton is not in the frame to be part of a group to either purchase or invest in Liverpool, it has been claimed.
Broughton, former chief of British Airways, had been linked with a potential investment bid in the Reds back in November a part of a consortium that included US investors David Blitzer and Josh Harris’ Harris Blitzer Entertainment (HBSE) firm that currently holds a stake in Crystal Palace.
CBS Sports’ Ben Jacobs has now claimed that Broughton has not retained an interest in being part of a consortium to make an investment or takeover play for Liverpool, whose owners FSG will listen to offers in excess of the club’s $4bn (£3.3bn) valuation but would prefer a partial sale to a “strategic partner”. Broughton was said to have mulled his options over the festive period before deciding against pursuing any interest.
TOM WERNER MAKES ‘NOT FOR SALE’ STATEMENT
Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group have no plans to sell the Boston Red Sox and have confirmed their interest in expanding their portfolio.
Since it emerged at the beginning of November that FSG were mulling over their long-term options at Liverpool, which include both a partial sale of the club to a minority partner or a full sale of their shareholding – but only at the right price, north of $4bn (3.3bn), their desire to keep hold of the Red Sox Major League Baseball team was called into question by some areas of the Boston fan base and the US media.
FSG have owned the Red Sox since 2002, delivering four World Series’ during that time (2004, 2007, 2013, 2018), with the team having endured an 86-year drought on that front prior to the arrival of John Henry, Tom Werner and Co.
At the press conference on Wednesday in Boston, Liverpool chairman Werner was one of those present to field questions from the media. It was the first time in nearly three years that either Werner or Henry had spoken publicly to reporters in Boston.
Werner was quizzed on whether FSG were looking at selling the team, valued at some $3.9bn by Forbes magazine, to which the 72-year-old was clear in his response. “There are absolutely no plans,” Werner told reporters (via MassLive.com).
“People should know that not only are our brains into trying to fix the last-place finish, but our heart is with our fans. I’m 72, John (Henry) is 72. We have a desire to win many more World Series here. As long as we’re healthy, we’re going to be hopefully improving the stewardship of the Red Sox.
“Our heart and soul is with the Red Sox.”
Full story here from Dave Powell.
WHY QATAR SPORTS INVESTEMENTS WON’T BE BUYING LIVERPOOL
Paris Saint-Germain owners Qatar Sports Investments won’t be making a play for Liverpool.
Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) are on the lookout to expand their portfolio in 2023. They have been linked with both Liverpool and Manchester United after it emerged – as first reported by CBS Sports – that QSI chairman, and president and CEO of PSG, Nasser Al Khelaifi, had met with Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy in London last week.
The meeting, which Spurs have denied took place but that various media outlets have confirmed, was to discuss, according to football.london, the new joint venture between UEFA and the European Clubs Association, of which Al Khelaifi is chairman, which covers media rights sales processes for UEFA club competitions after 2024 and is set to boost revenue streams for teams in the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League. Potential investment through the purchase of a minority stake was reportedly part of the meeting agenda.
A Bloomberg report on Monday suggested that both Liverpool and United were in the sights of QSI when it came to investment, with even the potential for a full takeover mooted in the report.
However, The Times and CBS Sports both reported that there had been no talks held with either clubs, with ECHO sources in the US corroborating that information. While QSI could take a minority stake that held no decisive influence in a team like Liverpool, there would be no chance of a QSI takeover of a major Premier League club unless they dumped their controlling interest in PSG, something that is understood not to be on their agenda.
WHAT FSG WANT FROM LIVERPOOL SALE
After the dust settled on the reveal that Fenway Sports Group were open to selling Liverpool for the right price, the talk has pivoted to one of a partial sale being the preferred option.
A valuation of around $4bn (£3.3bn) has been placed on the Reds, although it would take an offer in excess of that for FSG to be willing to talk. The stance from those well placed in the US, when speaking to the ECHO, remains that a partial sale of the club to free up some capital would be the preference, certainly for FSG principal John W. Henry, and for some of key shareholders with investments that haven’t yet been afforded the time to mature.
Talk of the Middle East and rumoured interest from Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, which was denied by his offices, arrived. But it is understood that little has changed on the situation from where it was at the beginning of November, and with valuations of teams set to continue to rise, albeit at a slower rate that had been seen over the past five years, there is little need to rush for FSG.
Strategic partners are something that FSG would prefer: firms, funds or individuals who can provide both capital and expertise to the business and the club, and who could accrete their initial investment over time into full ownership of Liverpool. US investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have been engaged with that task for more than a year while FSG president Mike Gordon – manager Jurgen Klopp’s closest ally within the Reds ownership – is leading the search.
‘NO LIVERPOOL TALKS’ AS QATAR SPORTS INVESTMENTS HAVE ‘MEETING’
The owners of Paris Saint-Germain are on the lookout for minority investment opportunities in the Premier League but have not held talks with Liverpool.
Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) have been owners of PSG since 2011, spending huge sums in the French capital to try and revitalise the fortunes of the nation’s biggest club, bringing stars such as Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar Jnr to the Parc des Princes.
But they are on the lookout for other chances to invest in top tier European football, with CBS Sports reporting that QSI held ‘exploratory talks’ with Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy during a meeting in London last week. PSG chairman Nasser Al Khelaifi’s meeting, according to CBS, was done so solely in his role as QSI chairman and not his role as chairman of the European Clubs Association.
The report also states that no talks were held between QSI representatives and representatives of Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group, nor have they been, with FSG looking for a minority partner to inject some scalable capital into Liverpool as well as providing them with some funds to attack further transfer business. FSG are also open to a full sale of their shareholding in the club but the ECHO has been told repeatedly that it is not the preference of principal owner John W. Henry, although a major bid beyond $4bn would likely kick start a conversation.
CITY STRIKE DEAL WITH BILLIONAIRE LINKED TO LIVERPOOL TAKEOVER
On Thursday Manchester City announced a new regional partnership with Jio Platforms, a firm that comes under the Reliance Industries umbrella. Reliance is owned by Mukesh Ambani, the Indian billionaire who had been linked with interest in a Liverpool takeover back in November before his office distanced him from the rumours.
Jio will become City’s official mobile communications network partner in India, where the two will, according to a club statement “collaborate on a variety of engaging experiences that fans will be able to access through Jio’s digital ecosystem comprising JioTV, MyJio, Jio STB, JioEngage and other applications and platforms, in addition to exclusive giveaways and in-market activities.” The aim will be to aid City’s long-term growth prospects in the Indian market.
The link with City’s owners arrives through the 2020 investment of $1.2bn by Mubadala Investments into Jio Platforms. Mubadala is a company where City chairman Kaldoon Al Mubarak also serves as CEO.
Read the full story, HERE.
PSG £3.5BN DEAL COULD PAVE WAY FOR FSG’S NEW YEAR PLAN
The revelations at the beginning of November that Fenway Sports Group would listen to offers from those wanting to acquire their full shareholding in Liverpool jolted others into action.
In the days and weeks that followed the Glazer family placed Manchester United up for sale with a valuation of around £6bn, while Paris Saint-Germain owners Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) signalled their intentions to raise capital through selling a 15 per cent stake in the Ligue 1 club, one where a €4bn (£3.55bn) value was placed upon it.
The ECHO understands that little has materially changed since the beginning of November and there there is no “real” interest that has been shown to force discussions further down the line. The early months of January are expected to see the search for a longer-term partner become more focused, with the potential existing for any new minority partner to possibly accrete their interest over time and become a majority shareholder, allowing FSG to create some liquidity to support growth plans and plans for investment into Liverpool, while ensuring that they don’t leave money on the table with a sale too early.
While the Glazers are looking to expedite the sale of the club and achieve the goal in the first quarter of 2023, something that is evidenced by them engaging the US investment bank Raine Group, who handled the Chelsea sale and have recent experience of a swift sale at an inflated price and a clutch of names they can turn to when drumming up buyer interest, the situation is markedly different for both FSG and PSG. The former would prefer a partial sale but would be open to a total exit, while the latter has no desire whatsoever to sell and needs a capital raise to aid their future growth.
The €4bn valuation is something that CBS Sports report has been arrived at by three willing investors who have submitted proposals, with two of them US based. A full sale of the club would likely have been concluded at a lesser price but a partial sale, using the cachet of having Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe as ultra-marketable stars, and the increasingly lucrative global brand pursuit that has been aided by their link-up with Nike’s sister company Air Jordan, Makes them a hugely attractive prospect, especially with near guaranteed Champions League qualification year after year.
WHAT CODY GAKPO DEAL SAYS ABOUT LIVERPOOL SALE AND FSG FUTURE
On Boxing Day it emerged that Liverpool were close to an agreement with PSV Eindhoven for their Dutch international Cody Gakpo, the 23-year-old winger a player on many a club radar in recent months after his fine performances in the Eredivise.
Manchester United had for some time looked the most likely destination for Gakpo, but with talks opened on Christmas Eve and a deal all tied up with a medical completed by December 28, Liverpool clinched the £37m deal, which could rise to £44m and stole a march on their rivals to make a key addition at a crucial time having lost both Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota to injury.
Liverpool needed a lift and so did the fans after weeks of uncertainty swirling around Anfield following the revelations that owners Fenway Sports Group would consider a full sale of the club, followed by the reveal that sporting director Julian Ward would be leaving his post at the end of this season. All of this arrived at a time when Liverpool were in need of transfer spend and were suffering a major hangover from last season’s remarkable exploits, having laboured in the Premier League for large periods pre-World Cup.
There has been much noise around the potential sale of Liverpool ever since FSG’s willingness to listen to offers was first revealed by the Athletic. Potential bidders from India, America and the Middle East have all been linked, some claimed to have been further along in the process than others.
But the ECHO has been told on numerous occasions by well placed sources in the US that the preference is not for a full sale, certainly not for principal John W. Henry or some of their major shareholders, and that a “strategic partner” that can provide capital and become an active investor to help target new avenues of growth would be the most satisfactory outcome for FSG unless there is a bid well above and beyond $4bn to come down the tracks. Sources have told the ECHO that while there has been some interest there is “nothing real” that has yet been presented.
The signing of Gakpo is a backing of Klopp and also a deal done that chimes with the way that the Reds have tended to go about their business in the transfer market in more recent years, mirroring to some degree the signing of Diaz in January where he was seen as undervalued and having a high ceiling for future growth.
With FSG understood to not be close to any kind of major deal with regards to their ownership the addition of Gakpo to the ranks suggests a longer term play is still on the agenda.
RESTRICTIONS IN PLACE AS REDS WELCOME MIDDLE EASTERN VISITORS
According to a new report from The Athletic’s Simon Hughes, filming restrictions were in place during the Reds’ recent Dubai-based training camp earlier this month.
While the report is aimed at looking at how the potential landscape of the club could change over the next 12 months or so as FSG continue to explore their options of future investment or a full sale, it is claimed that there were filming restrictions around the camp as CEO Billy Hogan was joined by visitors from the Middle East.
It is claimed that such restrictions prompted discussion from members of the club’s staff as to who was entering and leaving the camp as the uncertainty of Liverpool’s ownership landscape continues.
FSG AND GLAZER SALE STANCES SPEAK VOLUMES ABOUT LIVERPOOL AND MANCHESTER UNITED
For those with deep enough pockets both Liverpool and Manchester United could be available for the right price.
After it was revealed at the start of November that Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group would be willing to listen to offers for the club provided they met their expectations, rivals Manchester United then hit the market, with the Glazer family making their firmest indication yet they they were ready to cash out from the club they acquired in 2005.
While expressions of interest would be welcome and listened to, with the ECHO understanding that only figures of $4bn and above would be able to kick off any meaningful discussion over a full sale, both parties have stated that a full sale was by no means the only option and that minority investment may be forthcoming that would provide them with the injection of capital they require to either re-invest in the team, in infrastructure or in other avenues unrelated to the respective clubs.
The Glazers have been reportedly seeking sums of £6bn and above for United buoyed by the acquisition of Chelsea for £2.5bn by the Todd Boehly/Clearlake Capital-led consortium earlier this year. That deal also included a commitment of a further £1.75bn for infrastructure development in the coming seasons.
United’s position as a global brand, one that has shown some resilience on the commercial front despite almost a decade of underachievement, has emboldened the Glazers to seek such valuations, even if they may seem wildly outlandish.
While the two clubs may be open to offers at the same time their reasons for doing so, and desire to do so, are both very different.
For more than a year FSG have been looking at the potential for minority investment into the Reds and engaged major US banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to aid that search. But in the wake of the Chelsea sale, which was seen as an overpayment for a Premier League club of that size by some US investors that the ECHO spoke to, and the suggestion that some FSG partners might be up for selling some of their shareholding, a decision was made to test the market and see what kind of interest was out there for an asset like Liverpool.
FAR EAST INVESTMENT AN OPTION
A football finance expert has suggested the market for Middle East investment in the Premier League could soon hit saturation point, with Far East a potential option for Fenway Sports Group.
Manchester City and Newcastle United are already owned by the region’s two big players in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia respectively, while significant investment from Qatar is unlikely, given their ownership of French giants Paris Saint-Germain.
With the ECHO understanding that only bids in excess of $4bn (£3.3bn) would be considered before any conversations even began around the club changing hands, that leaves a highly select group of individuals or consortiums able to come to the table, with one US investment expert telling our business of football reporter Dave Powell that US investors may ‘find it harder to compete at the top level’ if the rate of return diminishes with rising prices.
And Stefan Szymanski, author of the lauded Soccernomics and the Stephen J. Galetti Professor of Sport Management at the University of Michigan, has suggested that any takeover may come from further east.
“Who do you have left? Bahrain, Kuwait, I don’t think Dubai would ever put up for one, so you are running out of those kind of buyers,” Szymanski said in a special report.
“The other option is someone in the Far East. Liverpool is such a big name in East Asia and there are billionaire Indonesians, Malaysians and Singaporeans, it would certainly sell well in that part of the world. It would be reasonable to think there would be a lot of interest.”
EX-ARSENAL CHIEF SHARES THEORY ON FSG SALE
Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein believes that the failure of the European Super League to come to pass has been the motivating factor behind both the owners of Liverpool and Manchester United to explore the potential sale of their respective clubs.
Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s owners, and the Glazer family, the owners of Manchester United, were significant agitators behind the failed ESL plot back in April 2021, both renouncing their intentions to take part in the proposed 12-team competition in the face of enormous fan ire and pressure from governing bodies and governments in what was a seismic 48 hours in European football last year.
Former Arsenal vice-chairman Dein, a major driving force in the growth of the Premier League and its presence on the global stage, believes that failure of the ESL has been a factor in the recent decisions taken by the owners of both Liverpool and Manchester United.
Speaking to The Times, Dein, who also had views on any push towards the Americanisation of the English game, said: “I was very worried about the Super League.
“That was the owners not reading the tea leaves properly. They got the wrong message, and that clearly was driven by owners thinking that there was a holy grail out there [of a closed shop and increased revenue], and that probably promoted the sale of Liverpool and Manchester United.
“They’ve got a different dynamic in the States. They have a sterile league and they can move franchises around from city to city. We’re not like that. We are passionate about our clubs. It’s club football that means so much and has to be protected.”
ESL PROMOTERS ISSUE DEFIANT RESPONSE AFTER ‘BIG WIN’ FOR UEFA
A22 Sports, the company created to drive forward a controversial European Super League, has tried to find the positives after a seemingly bad day at the European Court of Justice.
Back in April 2021, Liverpool and 11 other top teams from across the continent announced plans to form a breakaway competition. The scheme was halted within hours after scorn from fans, existing institutions and the wider football family.
Reports have widely portrayed developments as “massive blow” for the Super League and a “pretty big win” for UEFA. A22 see things a little differently, biting back at “monopolistic” UEFA in a response of their own. Athanasios Rantos – Advocate General at the European Court of Justice – released his ‘Opinion’ on proceedings which appeared to come down firmly on the side of the two governing bodies.
While the Advocate General’s take is non-binding, it is usually expected to guide the final outcome of the case. Mr Rantos’ view indicated UEFA and FIFA should have the right to block the creation of new competitions such as the doomed Super League – and also to issue punishments to sides that participate in breakaway projects.
In a statement released by the company this afternoon, the promoters highlighted these points: “[Mr Rantos] stated that UEFA is the dominant, even monopolistic organiser of all major European club competitions and bears a ‘special responsibility’ to ensure no third parties are unduly denied access to the market.
“AG Rantos stated that the conditions of access to the market must be clear, objective and as detailed as possible so that organisers of third-party competitions are able to comply with them. For any third-party organisers who fulfil these conditions, the federation in question should not refuse access. In particular, UEFA may not take into account their own self-interest in any authorisation process.”
UEFA HANDED ‘TOTAL VICTORY’ IN HUGE BLOW FOR EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE AND FUTURE PLOTS
The teams who plotted for a European Super League have today been dealt a huge blow over that project and any potential future breakaway plans.
The European Superleague Company, ESLC, effectively made up of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus, had initiated legal proceedings through the Madrid courts over what they saw as a UEFA’s monopoly on the European game – and whether it could amount to a potential breach of EU competition law.
But this morning Athanasios Rantos, Advocate General at the European Court of Justice, has released his ‘Opinion’ which comes down firmly in favour of the UEFA side.
It indicates UEFA and FIFA have the right to block the creation of new competitions such as the doomed Super League – and also to issue punishments to sides that participate in breakaway projects.
Read the full story HERE.
ADDITIONAL US INVESTMENT ARRIVES IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE
AFC Bournemouth have new ownership after American businessman Bill Foley completed his takeover of the Premier League club, believed to be worth £150million.
This comes at a time when Liverpool’s US owners FSG and the Glazers at Manchester United have announced their intentions for new investors to come to the fore, either as part of a partial or full sale.
Foley is also the owner of NHL ice hockey franchise the Vegas Golden Knights and his company, Black Knight Football Club, have now assumed a 100 per cent stake of the Cherries.
This move means more than half of Premier League clubs now have an element of US ownership, with the following sides following this approach: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and West Ham.
WHAT FSG ARE THINKING AS DUST SETTLES ON LIVERPOOL SALE REVELATION
There is little rush on FSG’s part to engineer an exit from Liverpool as it stands. While valuations are starting to slow down in the rapid growth that has occurred over the past five years or so, where Liverpool’s shot up from £1.2bn to £3.3bn since 2017 according to figures from Forbes magazine, there is still expected to be a little more runway to grow before a plateau comes into effect and the view is that there would be an element of “leaving money on the table” for those that exit now.
The ECHO was told recently by well-placed sources in the US that while FSG principal John W. Henry would consider a full sale he wasn’t in any rush to sell and was inclined to keep hold of the club if no major offer was forthcoming. Some other shareholders, such as RedBird Capital Partners who own 11 per cent of FSG, were also understood to be keen for Liverpool to remain as part of the FSG portfolio given the infancy of their FSG investment.
But it is understood that some minority partners may be more open to cashing out, and that is where the prompt to seek a valuation of the club as a whole in the market was born from, with the arrival of a “strategic partner” to pick up the shareholding of anyone who wants out at a $4bn-plus valuation understood to be preferred to a full sale, although if a bidder comes in above and beyond that with a serious plan a sale would be on the table.
There will also be an element of some would-be bidders assessing their options. Full story here.
FSG HAVE ALREADY MADE TELLING MOVE BEHIND SCENES THAT HINTS AT LIVERPOOL PLAN
In the not too distant past Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group had been looking at ways they could expand their football interests.
Having acquired Liverpool in 2010 for £300m and spent the next decade trying to grow the club into a global powerhouse once again, FSG are now assessing what the future holds for their Reds tenure, opening themselves up to expression of interest from those with very deep pockets who wish to take a controlling stake in the club.
The ECHO has been told that the FSG stance remains one where investment through a ‘strategic partner’ would be preferred, but with offers of $4bn (£3.3bn) and above for the full shareholding likely to be at least listened to the potential for a sale remains in play.
While for some of their rivals there remains a desire to pursue expansion, that is understood to have dimmed somewhat within FSG, the focus and energy instead on acquiring more North American sports assets where there are greater media revenues to be had and more cost certainty owing to salary caps and the absence of promotion and relegation across the major sports. There is also the absence of the transfer market, something that has become an increasingly difficult situation to manage for FSG given their preference for balancing the books and the deep pockets of some of their Middle Eastern-backed rivals bloating the market year on year.
Read more from Dave Powell HERE.
MUKESH AMBANI WOULD CONSIDER BUYING ARSENAL BEFORE LIVERPOOL OR MANCHESTER UNITED
The world’s eighth-richest man would consider buying Arsenal before making a move for Liverpool or Manchester United, says The Athletic.
Indian multi-billionaire Mukesh Ambani has already been ruled out of the race to purchase Liverpool, according to reports in his home country.
Last month, a report emerged in the Mirror that claimed Ambani had approached Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group over acquiring their shareholding and taking over the Reds.
But major Indian media outlet ABP News has claimed that a representative of Ambani’s Mumbai-based Reliance Industries firm has branded the reports as ‘fake’ and that the 65-year-old is not in the race to acquire the club.
Ambani, the eighth richest man in the world with a fortune estimated to be around £90bn, was linked with a bid for the Reds back in 2009, something that was denied at the time by both his office and then Liverpool chief executive Christian Purslow.
Now The Athletic says that Ambani is more likely to make a move for Arsenal than the Reds or North-West rivals Manchester United, because his son is a Gunner.
The report says: “Ambani’s son Akash, 31, is, reported to be a big Arsenal fan and The Athletic has been told by sources who have to remain anonymous to protect business interests that the London club is the one the family would go for if they did enter the football world.”
NBA PREDICTION MADE FOR FSG
Fenway Sports Group continue to grab headlines both in England and across the pond in the US since last month’s announcement that they were open to a full sale of Liverpool.
What started as a search for additional investment quickly became an openness to facilitate a full takeover, should any interested parties come in above and beyond a $4bn (£3.3bn) tag. Why John Henry, after 12 years in charge of the club, is now seemingly open to handing over power remains to be seen, but one theory is that he and his consortium have eyes on other sporting investments.
FSG want to get into the NBA, the ECHO having been told by multiple sources, most recently in New York, that an expansion franchise is what they want to add to their $10bn portfolio of sports teams next. They want that franchise to be in Las Vegas and they want basketball icon LeBron James, an FSG partner and former Liverpool shareholder directly, to run the team when he finally calls time on his glittering career.
Renowned NBA insider and founder of The Ringer, Bill Simmons, was the first to suggest the plans for FSG and a Vegas expansion franchise.
“I just don’t understand the plan, I don’t understand what they’re trying to do other than just gut the team and sell it,” Simmons said on his podcast. “I don’t think there’s any other takeaway, this just feels like a three-year plan to cut costs, make the team as malleable as possible for the next owner.
“We know they’re getting the Vegas NBA team, that’s happening. I don’t know how many more times I can tell people that. LeBron’s involved. That’s happening. That’s why they’re getting rid of Liverpool, that’s why they’re gonna sell the Red Sox. They’re gonna move their investments towards the NBA and the Penguins and whatever else.”
JOHN HENRY STANCE ON LIVERPOOL SALE
As Fenway Sports Group continue to assess their position as Liverpool owners, there will be several options for them to consider.
Ever since The Athletic first revealed last month that FSG were open to offers for the Reds, there have been numerous links made with potential bidders, from sovereign wealth funds to US private equity.
The FSG position, well-placed US sources informed the ECHO, is that their move to open themselves up to expressions of interest in a full takeover was explorative, with the the club having been searching for outside investment through major American banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley for more than a year.
Sources told the ECHO that a “strategic partner” remained the preferred outcome, something that would involve FSG selling an equity stake in the club. The same sources said that there wasn’t a strong desire from FSG principal John W. Henry to sell the club, while some other minority partners such as RedBird Capital Partners, the US investment fund that paid $750m for an 11 per cent stake in FSG’s empire back in March 2021, also view strategic investment as the best-case scenario given the relative infancy of their investment
FSG remain open to selling the club if they receive a premium price, with anything under $4bn (£3.3bn) unlikely to pique the interest and spark serious conversations.
It is understood that no serious talks have taken place as yet with any kind of strategic partner, and while there has been interest from both the US and Middle East, the ECHO have also been told there is nothing that has travelled far down the line when it comes to talks, with any interest from parties remaining in the early stages.
But what might a “strategic partner” mean, and why would such a move have benefits?
While Henry isn’t in any rush to part with Liverpool, the ECHO understands that there are some minority partners who may be keen to exit. FSG is made up of 30 partners, the majority being individuals. The largest shareholdings are held by Henry, who holds around 40 per cent, with Mike Gordon, who had until recently been the eyes and ears of FSG on Merseyside and someone who had built a strong rapport with Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, owing around 12 per cent. RedBird own 11 per cent while no other shareholder holds more than a 10 per cent stake.
Any final decision on a sale would be made my the majority shareholder, which is Henry, although he would seek the council of his fellow investors before embarking on such a decision.
Read more from Dave Powell’s special repot HERE.
QATARI ROYAL FAMILY ‘RESPOND TO’ LIVERPOOL TAKEOVER LINKS
The Qatari Royal Family have ruled themselves out of purchasing Liverpool, according to reports.
Sources have told ESPN that the Qatar Olympic Committee president Sheikh Jooan Al Thani is not in talks with FSG over a potential full, or partial, the takeover of the club.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamas Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, is already involved in the ownership of an elite-level European football club through Qatar Sports Investments’ ownership of French side Paris Saint-Germain, which is funded by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.”
Earlier this week reports claimed that a Qatari-Saudi Arabia consortium had emerged as “strong contenders” to acquire Liverpool. However, it was understood that parties from the two Gulf states were private investors.
Read the full story HERE.
FSG MAY SEEK ‘STRATEGIC PARTNER’ IN SEARCH FOR INVESTMENT
Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group may seek a ‘strategic partner’ in their search for new investment.
At the start of November the Reds owners were revealed to have opened themselves up to interest in a full takeover having spent more than a year looking for outside investment and having engaged major US banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to aid that process.
Well placed sources in the US told the ECHO last month that the Reds owners were seeking any investment or takeover interest at a minimum valuation on the business of $4bn (ÃÂ£3.3bn) but that it would likely take a higher figure for any takeover bid to come to fruition.
Since their openness to a sale was first revealed by the Athletic, FSG have been linked with a host of consortiums who have reportedly been interested, from private equity, to Indian billionaires, to sovereign wealth funds.
Last week the Boston Globe, a newspaper privately owned by FSG chief and Liverpool principal owner John W. Henry, reported that the Reds owners, while remaining open to the possibility of a sale if they received a major bid, were leaning towards selling a partial stake in the club to a minority investor, a move that could create funds for player recruitment or capital improvement.
Similarly well-placed sources in America have told the ECHO that a sale to a ‘strategic’ partner would be a preferable outcome, with Henry understood to be keen to hold onto the ownership of Liverpool and not in any rush to make a hasty exit from the club he and FSG acquired in 2010 for ÃÂ£300m.
FSG FACING PRESSURE IN BOSTON AS LIVERPOOL SALE TALKS HEAT UP
It isn’t just Liverpool fans who have been watching what happens and thinking about recruitment, with Red Sox fans starting to voice some concern over the potential loss of one of their major stars on the back of a 2022 season where the team finished last in the American League East.
FSG have owned the Red Sox since 2002, snapping an 86-year World Series drought by winning it in 2004, following that feat with successes in 2007, 2013 and 2018. No team has won more World Series during that period than the Red Sox.
The issue that they have had is that it has been something akin to boom and bust, with fallow periods often following periods of success and a long standing narrative that has prevailed in Boston around FSG not spending what they should to keep their best players, something that has often chimed with Liverpool fans. The most prominent example of seeing a star depart at Fenway Park came in early 2020 when Mookie Betts, a player who came through the farm system at the Red Sox and was an All Star that had the potential to be their anchor to future World Series success, was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Betts had intimated that he wanted to test free agency at the end of his deal, and with a year left and risking losing him for very little when his contract expired they made a trade with the Dodgers. The Red Sox had offered him a deal but not one that was enticing enough for him to remain in Massachusetts, something that caused plenty of ire among Red Sox fans and one that saw Henry have to make a rare appearance before the media to explain his actions to the fan base.
For the full details, click here.
FOOTBALL FINANCE EXPERT OUTLINES PARTIAL SALE BENEFITS
Football finance expert Kieran Maguire has outlined the potential benefits of Fenway Sports Group facilitating a partial sale of the club, as opposed to a full takeover.
Liverpool chairman Tom Werner told the Boston Globe recently that it was a case of “business as usual” for FSG’s ownership of the club, the exploration of their options not necessarily pointing the way to a swift exit.
Last week the Globe, a newspaper owned privately by FSG chief and Liverpool principal owner John W. Henry, reported that sources had informed them that the Liverpool owners were leaning more to selling a partial stake in the Reds, capital that may be used to aid “player recruitment or capital improvement”.
And Maguire, author of the Price of Football and a lecturer at the University of Liverpool told the ECHO: “It does have some benefits for FSG and the minority investor.
“For FSG, say for example they sold 10 per cent of Liverpool at a valuation of ÃÂ£3bn, that’s ÃÂ£300m that represents them getting the money back that they paid for the football club back in 2010, yet they are able to keep control.
“Now, they can spend that money how they see fit. It could be to invest in player recruitment or it could be to help them build funds for another purchase, as we already know that they are interested in acquiring more sports teams.”
SAUDI-QATAR LINK-UP ‘NOT THE ONLY GROUP’ READY TO BID FOR LIVERPOOL
In a Sporting News report from David Lynch, there are suggestions that “a joint Saudi-Qatari consortium have emerged as strong early contenders to buy Liverpool”.
But they are seemingly not the only names in the frame. Lynch’s report adds: “It is understood they have been joined in the early running by coalition of German investors, who are further along in the process of tabling a bid to Fenway Sports Group. An unnamed American consortium has also registered its interest in putting forward an offer.”
SAUDI-QATAR PARTNERSHIP PLANNING ÃÂ£4BN BID TO BUY LIVERPOOL
A Saudi-Qatar partnership is “planning” to offer Fenway Sports Group in the excess of ÃÂ£4bn to acquire ownership of Liverpool Football Club, according to reports from the Middle East.
Following reports by the Daily Mail last weekend that the Reds’ American owners had “held talks” with two Middle-East-based consortiums over a potential takeover of the club, Jordan-based publication Albawaba has claimed that former Saudi Arabia international Saeed Al-Owairan has publicised plans for a possible Saudi-Qatar combined offer for Liverpool.
Speaking on the Egyptian programme Remontada, Albawaba verified that Owairan confirmed the construction of a partnership between the two Middle-Eastern countries. However, no additional details were revealed on how a potential bid for the 19-time league title winners could look.
FSG LEANING TOWARDS ‘PARTIAL SALE’ ON LIVERPOOL
Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group are leaning towards a partial sale of their stake in the Reds.
The Boston Globe, a newspaper privately owned by FSG principal John Henry, reports that the Reds owners are now leaning towards a partial sale of their ownership as opposed to a full takeover, with the club claimed to be in discussions with “an array of suitors” around either a full sale or equity purchase.
Sources told the Globe that a partial equity sale was the most likely outcome for FSG, with the desire to raise capital for both “player acquisition and capital improvements” at the forefront of their desire to explore their options for the club in the market.
One suggestion is that a minority partner could arrive on board and then turn their position into one of complete control further down the line. The Globe, who were present at a Boston Red Sox press event on Wednesday where Henry and other key FSG partners were in attendance, reports that sources told them that any investor “would need to be philosophically aligned with FSGÃ¢s fiscal tenets and team-building philosophies.”
The report also states that while FSG remain open to offers of a full takeover they have not yet received compelling interest.
JOHN HENRY MAY HAVE HINTED AT LIVERPOOL SALE
On Monday 28 November, Juventus had their own huge announcement.
While the ownership of the Italian giants won’t be changing hands just yet, there were enormous changes at boardroom level, brought about by an investigation into the Turin club’s financial statements by Italian prosecutors and market regulator Consob, relating to alleged market manipulation of transfer fees and false accounting. They are allegations that Juventus deny.
President Andrea Agnelli, one of the most prominent boardroom figures in European football who was a major agitator, and continues to be, for the formation of a European Super League, was joined in resigning by vice-president Pavel Nedved and the rest of the Juventus board, with the decision coming on the back of the club posting a record loss of ÃÂ£220m for its most recent set of financials for 2021.
The decision, according to a Juventus statement, was done after Ã¢new legal and accounting opinionsÃ¢ from independent experts were obtained, the statement adding that “having considered the centrality and relevance of pending legal and accounting issues” the board considered it to be “in the best social interest to recommend that Juventus equip itself with a new board of directors to address these issues”.
The departure of Agnelli, who retains an ownership stake in Juventus, not only leaves the club with a rather uncertain future but also creates another damaging blow to the European Super League trying to get off the ground.
The decision of FSG and the Glazer family to test the water when it comes to seeing what the interest is like and where the price point lies on the market is born from not only the high value and major interest that Chelsea created, but also from the failure of two major structural changes to European and domestic football failing to gain any traction.
MANCHESTER UNITED GIVEN ASKING PRICE WARNING
Manchester United have been warned by Michael Moritz that their financial demands for selling the club are ‘widely unrealistic’. Moritz co-wrote a book with friend Sir Alex Ferguson back in 2015.
Reports have suggested the Glazers could be looking for upwards of ÃÂ£6billion to sell Man United.
Moritz wrote for The Times: “What would you pay for a ÃÂ£583million business with few growth prospects and ÃÂ£81m of EBITDA, the slippery benchmark used by buyout firms to value prospective investments?
“In most industries it would be between 10 and 15 times or, in this case, ÃÂ£800m to ÃÂ£1.2bn. If, however, you are putting a football team on the block and you are a group of absentee owners, as is the case with Manchester United and its dividend-rich Glazer siblings, you would encourage rumours that the business is worth ÃÂ£6bn.”
MARTIN BROUGHTON COULD HAVE SECOND LIVERPOOL CHAPTER IF INTEREST IN FSG SALE DEVELOPS
November 30 marked 12 years since Martin Broughton left his role as temporary chairman of Liverpool after helping FSG navigate their way through the first few months at Anfield.
Earlier this year, Broughton had been leading a consortium that had been in the running to acquire Chelsea after the sanctions placed upon Roman Abramovich had seen the club forcibly put up for sale.
Now, months on from their unsuccessful attempt to land Chelsea, HBSE have been linked with Liverpool, with Broughton and his existing relationship with the Reds and their owners strongly linked with a role in any interest.
The ECHO were informed by US financial sources earlier this month that HBSE were “mulling their options” when it came to Liverpool, assessing their position but stopping short of any formal talks. It was understood that Broughton was in their thought process should they decide to proceed.
Full story and more details here.
TWELVE POTENTIAL BUYERS AS FSG ‘ENTER TALKS’ WITH SAUDI ARABIAN AND QATARI CONSORTIUMS
A number of names have been discussed as potential buyers of Liverpool, with some seemingly more realistic than others. FSG, who have been at the helm at Anfield for the past 12 years, have expanded their search for investment, something they tasked major American banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to lead on last year, to welcome expressions of interest around a full sale of the club.
FSG’s move has now been followed by the Glazer family at Manchester United, who themselves have stated that they are on the lookout for investment but also open to giving up their controlling stake in the Old Trafford side.
With two of world sport’s most iconic teams up for sale at the same time it has understandably sparked much interest, with plenty of names with deep pockets linked to the Reds over the past fortnight, from US investment funds, to Indian billionaires, to sovereign wealth funds.
Dave Powell has taken a closer look at the following names linked with Liverpool, here (piece from November 28).
PSG HAND LIVERPOOL AND FSG ÃÂ£3.5BN BOOST
PSG chief Al-Khelaifi told the Financial Times that the 15 per cent stake that was being made available for purchase was based on a valuation of the club at Ã¢Â¬4bn (ÃÂ£3.5bn), a figure that would place it higher that what Liverpool were deemed to be seeking.
That comes despite PSG playing in a smaller market league with far smaller media rights, not owning their own stadium and having a balance sheet that saw them lose ÃÂ£320m in their most recent financial year, not helped by carrying the burden of a wage bill that includes the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar Jr and Lionel Messi. PSG revenues also were far short of what Liverpool are expected to post, the Reds likely to see revenues of ÃÂ£600m against a profit of around ÃÂ£70m when their accounts are published in early 2023, while PSG saw revenues of ÃÂ£480m for their most recent financials.
With PSG providing their own clear valuation of what they feel they are worth, FSG may be emboldened to hold out for more from any would-be suitor given how much more they have to offer for the price.
UPDATE ON POTENTIAL INTEREST FROM QATAR
After the rumours in late November of potential interest in Liverpool from the private sector in Qatar, CBS sports reporter Ben Jacobs posted an update on his understanding of the situation on Twitter.
Writing on November 27, he said: “Understanding on links between Liverpool & Qatar is potential investors are only in the thought process. Very early and exploratory stages. QSI not involved in any capacity (even in a supportive role). Their focus is on PSG and potentially bringing in a new minority investor in 2023.”
QSI is Qatar Sports Investments, who own French giants PSG, and has a minority stake in Portuguese club Braga.
LIVERPOOL ‘ENTER TALKS’ WITH SAUDI ARABIAN AND QATAR CONSORTIUMS
Liverpool have reportedly held talks with two Middle East consortiums in relation to a potential takeover, according to reports emerging on November 27.
The Daily Mail has revealed representatives from consortiums in Saudi Arabia and Qatar have expressed an interest in acquiring the club. It is understood the two groups in question are private companies and not state-owned.
It is added the Reds are ‘in discussions’ with a buyer from the United States, whose identity is not divulged in the report.
PREMIER LEAGUE RULE CHANGES WON’T BAN SAUDI TAKEOVERS
The Premier League have no plans to introduce changes to their owners and directorsÃ¢ test to prevent a Saudi investor taking over at Liverpool, according to the Telegraph.
Fenway Sports Group made clear their desire to seek further investment over a fortnight ago, with confirmation from chairman Tom Werner since that the American Group are open to a full sale.
On Wednesday, the Saudi Arabian sports minister admitted that the Saudi Arabian government would “definitely support” private sector bids for the Reds and Manchester United – also put up for sale recently.
Premier League clubs are yet to agree on the full terms of the new owners and directorsÃ¢ test, but the report states that ‘its current draft will not preclude individuals on the basis of the political or human rightsÃ¢ record of their country of origin.’
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters detailed how the league had consulted with Amnesty International over introducing a ‘subjective’ human rights element to the test, but there is thought to be little appetite for such. Any Saudi-backed takeovers will require the same assurances that Newcastle United had to provide, that being that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would not be the owner of the club.
SAUDI ARABIAN GOVERNMENT SPEAK OUT ON POTENTIAL DEAL
The sports minister of Saudi Arabia has stated that the Saudi Arabian government would “definitely support” private sector bids for Liverpool and Manchester United.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal said that there was a lot of “interest and appetite” in the two clubs, both of which have seen their owners open themselves up to either part investment or a full sale over the past two weeks.
Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group expanded their search for investment through an equity sale to a willingness to listen to offers for the club a fortnight ago. It was a move followed by the Glazer family at United on Tuesday.
Numerous potential bidders have been linked with Liverpool over the past fortnight, from US private equity firms to Indian billionaires, although no firm proposals are believed to have been presented to FSG, for whom Mike Gordon is acting as the lead on sourcing investment and managing an interest in a full takeover.
“From the private sector, I can’t speak on their behalf, but there is a lot of interest and appetite and there’s a lot of passion about football,” said Al Faisal.
“It’s the most-watched league in Saudi and the region and you have a lot of fans of the Premier League. We will definitely support it if any [Saudi] private sector comes in, because we know that’s going to reflect positively on sports within the kingdom.
“But if there’s an investor willing to do so and the numbers add up, why not?”
JULIAN WARD SHOCK DEPARTURE THE LATEST IN SEVERAL CHANGES
Julian Ward will leave his role as Liverpool sporting director at the end of the season – with the Reds considering an overhaul of their transfer operations.
Ward has taken the shock decision having only succeeded Michael Edwards in the key position last summer after spending 18 months as his assistant. It is understood Liverpool are surprised and disappointed at Ward signalling his intention to quit, but are mindful they have been informed with sufficient time to determine a possible successor.
The decision of Ward to quit represents the latest significant change behind the scenes at Liverpool. Owners Fenway Sports Group confirmed earlier this month they are exploring a possible sale of the club, with Mike Gordon taking a step back from the day-to-day running of the club and Liverpool CEO Billy Hogan assuming increased responsibilities.
And Liverpool will now use Ward’s imminent exit as an opportunity to consider which model will be the most effective in supporting the future football operations – including transfers – at the club. Jurgen Klopp, who signed a new deal in April to extend his Reds commitment to 2026, will be part of the process, with Hogan also involved.
MANCHESTER UNITED SALE OFFERS CHALLENGE TO POTENTIAL LIVERPOOL DEAL
Potential buyers of Liverpool could be lured to Manchester United instead, because of their huge global fanbase, according to The Times.
Liverpool are used to going head-to-head with their East Lancs rivals, but on this occasion the action is happening off the pitch, with English football’s two most successful clubs both looking to attract billionaires to invest in them or buy them outright.
United owners the Glazers announced on Tuesday that they were open to investment or even a complete sale, just two weeks after Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, declared their intention to do exactly the same.
The Merseyside Reds have enjoyed more success on the pitch than their Manchester counterparts in recent seasons, but after three decades of unrelenting success, United can boast huge global appeal, making the asset sale race an intriguing one. The Red Devils claim to have 1.1billion fans across the world.
The Glazers are believed to be looking for anywhere between ÃÂ£6-8billion to let go off their Premier League asset, dwarfing the reported ÃÂ£4billion FSG are asking to pass on ownership of Liverpool.
The issue for both clubs is that they will likely be marketing their offering to the same mega-rich suitors. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a United fan, is one name in the mix who has already ruled out a move for Liverpool, but tech giants Amazon and Meta have already been linked with the Red Devils.
The Times report suggests that Liverpool’s Manchester rivals could be more likely to sell to non-American groups, such as representatives from the Middle East. It also accepts that the Glazers’ move to sell has been prompted not only by the failure of the doomed European Super League but also by FSG’s decision to cash in their chips on Liverpool now.
SIR JIM RATCLIFFE TO LAUNCH TAKEOVER ‘BID’ AFTER CONFIRMING LIVERPOOL DECISION
Sir Jim Ratcliffe will reportedly bid to buy Manchester United after the Glazers formally put the club up for sale.
ThatÃ¢s according to the Independent, who are reporting that Ratcliffe, a Manchester United fan, is ready to launch a bid to buy the Old Trafford club – although he is keen not to pay over the odds. The Glazer family will reportedly seek buyers prepared to pay between ÃÂ£6billion and ÃÂ£8billion.
On the day that the club cancelled Cristiano RonaldoÃ¢s contract, the Glazers released a statement saying that they were trying to find new investment, either to acquire a share of the club, or buy it outright, which would end their 17-year ownership.
It was also confirmed that United have appointed the Raine Group, an American bank that found a buyer for Chelsea this year, to be UnitedÃ¢s advisers and another bank, Rothschild and Co, who will advise the Glazer family.
Read the full story HERE.
MANCHESTER UNITED ANNOUNCEMENT SENDS SHOCKWAVE TO FSG OVER LIVERPOOL SALE PLAN
When Chelsea were put up for sale earlier this year as a result of sanctions placed upon former owner Roman Abramovich it kick started a bidding war the likes of which English football had never seen before.
Teams in the so-called ‘big six’ of the Premier League hit the market very rarely. The tenure of ownership among Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur before the Todd Boely-led consortia acquired the Stamford Bridge club stood at a cumulative 97 years, an average length of ownership across those teams of 16 years.
The sale of Chelsea to Boehly, Clearlake Capital and Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss closed at around ÃÂ£2.5bn, with a further ÃÂ£1.75bn committed to funding infrastructure development projects at the club. That deal was finalised in May, bringing an end to 19 years of Abramovich’s spell in London, an era that changed the landscape of the English game forever.
It is a little over a fortnight since Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group were revealed to have opened themselves up to offers to take the club off their hands. While the initial stance, confirmed by well placed sources in the US to the ECHO, is one that is more open to continuing as custodians of the football club and selling an equity stake, the fact that the owners would be willing to sell the club shows how buoyant they feel the market is, with sports proving a remarkably resilient asset class despite the macro-economic landscape at present.
On Tuesday evening it was revealed that Manchester United’s deeply unpopular owners, the Glazer family, who had acquired the club via a leveraged buyout back in 2005 and continued to plunge it further into debt while the club failed on the pitch and investment into infrastructure was not forthcoming, were also open to offers.
Like FSG, United’s owners are open to both offers of an equity sale or a full takeover, but it is understood that they are leaning towards the latter given the major need for them to raise funds for a crucial redevelopment of a dilapidated Old Trafford and the continued financing of the club in the transfer market to try and return it to former glories that have been absent since Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager back in 2013.
Read the full story from Dave Powell, our Business of Football writer, HERE.
INSIDE STORY OF FSG PLAN
The ECHO has learned that senior figures at Anfield were stunned when the news of a willingness to sell was made public on November 7. It is thought that FSG had hoped to quietly explore their options before it was reported by The Athletic that the owners were searching not only for external investment but also for the possibility of an outright buyer.
It’s been suggested the quiet attempts to survey the landscape was done so without explicit knowledge of some executive-level Liverpool employees in a move that bore a resemblance to the European Super League debacle that was foisted upon those inside the club itself in April 2021.
There is also a feeling that now is the right time to capitalise from the owners’ perspective. Anfield will play host to regular crowds of 61,000 from next season, while the AXA Training Centre – a ÃÂ£50m facility that Liverpool believe rivals any other in Europe – is barely two years old and the club have won every top-level trophy available to them since June 2019.
FSG will know that valuations are likely to continue to rise and by selling Liverpool now they would be leaving a considerable amount of money on the table. That’s why one prospect that is being given consideration is the potential for someone to acquire the club on a piecemeal basis, raising capital for FSG via a stake sale that may allow them to either free up funds to aid the very pressing need to address their requirements in the transfer market, or potentially to see them cash out a portion of their shareholding for growth prospects elsewhere. That, over time, would allow for someone else to acquire the club bit by bit and also allow for FSG to realise the financial benefits of continued rising values.
Paul Gorst and Dave Powell have the latest in this special FSG report
WHY FSG MAY BE WISE TO PUT LFC SALE ON THE BACKBURNER
A potential buyer for Liverpool is yet to be found, though it may prove to be no bad thing for FSG to bide their time over the sale of the club.
It is understood that there is no grand plan that would be financed from a Liverpool sale, more a case of FSG weighing up just where the club sits in the current market and assessing how much further growth, and at what kind of pace, may still be to come further down the tracks. For them to check out now they would likely be leaving money on the table, with valuations still on the incline despite the macro-economic pressures that exist, with sports proving to be one of the most resilient of asset classes over the past three years.
The ECHO understands that while there are interested parties, there are no serious talks with any party at present and that FSG remain relaxed over the situation, with no urgency to part company with the Reds, whose Forbes valuation comes in at around ÃÂ£3.74bn.
The lack of urgency likely stems from the fact that they don’t have an immediate need to find capital to fund their growth in other areas, with the NFL off limits for them as a group for now and the NBA still yet to make a decision on when, or indeed if, it will add two more teams.
Dave Powell has more, here.
PSG COULD FOLLOW LIVERPOOL AND FSG MOVE
A fortnight on from Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group opening themselves up to expressions of interest in the club, Paris Saint-Germain are following a similar path.
FSG engaged the services of US banking giants Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs last year to begin the search for outside investment into the Reds, with that search now expanded to allow for interest in a full takeover of the club that FSG have owned since 2010.
But the Reds, while opening the door to a potential sale, remain on the lookout for minority stakeholders and sources well placed in the US told the ECHO that it was a case of FSG “testing the waters” to find out where Liverpool sat in the marketplace, something that Liverpool chairman Tom Werner backed up when he told the Boston Globe last week that it was “business as usual” and that they were “exploring a sale” with little urgency behind that process.
Across the Channel another club is now on the lookout for fresh investment with French newspaper L’Equipe reporting that Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), the owners of big spending Paris Saint-Germain, are on the lookout for minority investors, stopping short of a full sale of the club helmed by Nasser Al-Khelaifi.
The report claimed that QSI are looking at potentially selling as much as 15 per cent of the club to an unnamed American investment fund, a move that would bring fresh capital into a club that have come under UEFA scrutiny in recent years for their wild spending that has seen them stack out their team with the likes of Neymar Jnr, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi, among others.
L’Equipe also reported that Al-Khelaifi had indicated that a bid of Ã¢Â¬4bn (ÃÂ£3.48bn) had already come in for the club, a figure that, if correct, would give some indication as to where FSG see the value of Liverpool in the marketplace, with the ECHO understanding that a figure of $4bn (ÃÂ£3.4bn) had been viewed as the kind of sum that would see a conversation initiated between any interested parties, provided that they were found to be agreeable to FSG.
FOUR POSSIBLE SALE SCENARIOS OUTLINED BY BOSTON GLOBE JOURNALIST
Boston Globe journalist Michael Silverman has outlined the four possible scenarios that could unfold as Fenway Sports Group explore further investment and a potential full sale of Liverpool.
The weekend saw Reds chairman Tom Werner admit for the first time that a full sale of the club is being considered by FSG, but caveated the news with an admission that there is no urgency to sell up and move on. Reports then ruled out multi-billionaire Steve Ballmer, suggesting he is not looking to add any more sports teams to his portfolio.
And speaking over the weekend, Silverman – who has been closely reporting on this story from Boston – suggested any major developments will likely take some time, and he also played out four possible ways that any investment or takeover bids could run.
Ã¢I believe thereÃ¢s four scenarios,Ã¢ he told BBC Radio Merseyside. Ã¢One is someone just buys the club outright, another is someone buys a minority share now and over the years that becomes a majority share. Or, they simply get new partners who invest in the club, and Fenway Sports Group retains majority control. Or, they simply donÃ¢t sell at all.
Ã¢Maybe thereÃ¢s a fifth scenario, and IÃ¢m not quite sure what that would be, but from everything IÃ¢ve heard and other members of the media have reported, everything is on the table. Yes, itÃ¢s very much in the early days, it doesnÃ¢t at all feel as if anything is imminent or about to happen.
Ã¢And as far as what the outcome is, you can read between the lines that whenever someone from Fenway Sports Group decides to speak publicly, you have to wonder why are they doing this, and why are they doing this now? From everything thatÃ¢s been out there, theyÃ¢re early in the exploration stage and they want to explore every single option, see whatÃ¢s out there, so thatÃ¢s where we are at this moment.Ã¢
STEVE BALLMER ‘STANCE’ ON LIVERPOOL SALE EMERGES FROM NEW REPORTS IN USA
Multi-billionaire Steve Ballmer is not interested in adding any further sports teams to his portfolio, according to reports in the US.
Ballmer, whose ÃÂ£66bn net worth derived from his stock options in Microsoft, where he served as CEO between 2000 and 2014, has been linked with a potential move to acquire Liverpool after it emerged that owners Fenway Sports Group were open to selling the club for the right price, although also welcoming minority investment.
Ballmer, 66, has been the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team since 2014 and told Los Angeles Times reporter Sam Farmer recently that he had no interest in owning any further teams.
Addressing the Liverpool rumour on Twitter, Farmer said: “When I sat down with Ballmer recently and asked if he would be interested in buying any other sports franchises he said no.
“And it was a definitive no. He said he already spends enough time focused on the Clippers and now building a new arena for them. Said he’s not interested in devoting time to another team.”
Ballmer is one of a number of names to have been linked with a potential move for the Reds, with US firm Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment and Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani among those to be mentioned. The ECHO understands that the former has an interest in the Reds but have not made a final decision on their next move and no talks have been held, while well placed sources have stated that it would be an unlikely scenario for them to acquire Liverpool. Ambani’s representatives at his Reliance Industries firm have said that he is not interested in a bid, according to reports in the Indian media.
WERNER ADMITS FULL SALE POSSIBLE
Liverpool chairman Tom Werner has admitted Fenway Sports Group Liverpool are exploring the possibility of a full sale of the club.
Earlier this month, the American group released a statement confirming they were open to further external investment and the Reds’ owners have also instructed two major US banks in Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to explore how much appetite there is for an outright change of hands at Anfield.
In a latest update issued by Werner on 18 November, he has opened the door to an outright sale.
“WeÃ¢re exploring a sale, but thereÃ¢s no urgency, no time frame for us, and as far as IÃ¢m concerned, itÃ¢s business as usual,Ã¢ he is quoted as saying in the Boston Globe. Ã¢One outcome could be our continued stewardship for quite a while.Ã¢
MACANTHONY’S ‘ÃÂ£200-250m’ TRANSFER THEORY
Chairman of League one club Peterborough United, Darragh MacAnthony believes FSG have decided to cash in on Liverpool due to not wanting to oversee a significant outlay in the midfield department.
With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Naby Keita both out of contract in the summer and the likes of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara ageing, reinforcements in this area of the pitch will be required at the end of the current campaign.
Conducting such business is likely to come at great expense, particularly given names as Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham are being suggested as potential options.
Providing his theory on why FSG are looking for a way out at Anfield, MacAnthony said on his Hard Truth podcast in mid November: Ã¢No surprise, no shock. At the end of the day, if you’re the owner of Liverpool, you’re looking at a midfield that’s going to cost ÃÂ£200-250million to fix because you’ve let these windows go and let these players age – and you haven’t replenished in those areas.
Ã¢What would three centre-midfielders for Liverpool, who want to be in the Champions League and competing for titles, cost nowadays? Seventy-to-eighty million? To get proper ones, you want Declan Rice, you want Bellingham and whoever else. Fenway, to be fair to them, maybe they’re just being honest and are saying we need help so we sell a percentage of the club, we get some bigger money people in and can go and do that.”
FSG BREAK SILENCE AMID ‘A LOT OF INTEREST’
Fenway Sports Group have declared there has been “a lot of interest” in potential new partners as they seek fresh investment in Liverpool.
And the Reds owners have suggested they would consider a gradual takeover of the club in their first public comments since announcing they were open to selling the Reds.
Several parties have already been linked with an interest in Liverpool, the latest being Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment. And Sam Kennedy, an FSG partner who is also CEO of the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Sports partner, has provided an update on the process, which is being managed by FSG president Mike Gordon.
Ã¢There has been a lot of interest from numerous potential partners considering investment into the club,Ã¢ said Kennedy in quotes that emerged on 17 November. Ã¢It is early days in terms of exploring possibilities for possible investment into Liverpool.
Ã¢Mike Gordon has done an extraordinary job of leading the club for the past decade-plus. He will be taking a step back from that role and (Liverpool CEO) Billy Hogan will be taking on more and more. BillyÃ¢s someone weÃ¢re particularly proud of in the Red Sox front office, he grew up in our organisation.Ã¢
Ã¢Great companies grow by adding value to their business,Ã¢ added Kennedy. Ã¢One way to increase that value from time to time is to sell assets or add investors. Does that mean FSG is going to sell Liverpool? I do not know. ItÃ¢s John HenryÃ¢s, Tom WernerÃ¢s and Mike GordonÃ¢s job to responsibly run Fenway Sports Group and they felt this was an ideal time to explore possible opportunities for investment into the club.Ã¢
HARRIS BLITZER DEAL GAINING TRACTION AMID MARTIN BROUGHTON LINK
Could two American billionaires provide the answer to FSG’s investment search? As first mentioned by the ECHO on November 7, David Blitzer and Josh Harris both own 18 per cent of Crystal Palace but were part of the race to acquire Chelsea earlier this year, a move that, if successful, would have seen them divest their interest in Palace due to a conflict of interest.
But talk of a possible move for Liverpool by the pair is now gaining traction. The duo also has a familiar face they can call on. Harris’ wealth stands at around ÃÂ£5bn, with the HBSE interest in Chelsea earlier in the year done alongside a consortium featuring Sir Martin Broughton, former Liverpool chairman and key man in FSG’s early days at Anfield, and Lord Sebastian Coe.
Any potential involvement of Broughton is likely to be greeted warmly by FSG, after the one-time Liverpool chairman helped secured the sale of the club to John Henry’s consortium in the first place.
Here is the latest on Harris Blitzer from Dave Powell.
HARRIS BLITZER CHIEF GIVES OWNERSHIP CLUES
Sources in the US have told the ECHO that there is interest in potentially exploring a move for Liverpool by HBSE, although no discussions have taken place and it is a case of them ‘mulling their options’ at present. Other well placed sources have said that while there may be interest, the lack of urgency from FSG chief John Henry to part with Liverpool and the fact that they are exploring their own options, allied with a price tag that will be considerably higher than the ÃÂ£2.5bn that Chelsea went for, means an HBSE deal would be unlikely.
HBSE were part of the bidding process for Chelsea earlier this year, losing out to Todd Boehly, Clearlake Capital and Hansjorg Wyss’s consortium. Part of the HBSE bid was former Liverpool chairman Sir Martin Broughton, a man who spent the early months of FSG’s reign helping them to make the transition from the former regime of Tom Hicks and George Gillett, as well as Michael Klein, a Wall Street financier who was key in the deal-making process that saw FSG acquire Liverpool in the first place. Also involved was former London 2012 Olympics chief Lord Sebastian Coe and Indian entrepreneur and owner of the Sacramento Kings NBA team, Vivek Ranadive.
There is no suggestion that any of those involved in the Chelsea bid with HBSE would be party to any Liverpool interest, although the Broughton link has remained strong.
FENWAY SPORTS GROUP ‘SWAMPED WITH OFFERS’
Fenway Sports Group are being “swamped” with offers to buy Liverpool Football Club, according to reports.
Last week, David Ornstein from The Athletic broke the news that the American Group are seeking further support from third-party investors and were not against the complete sale of the club, with a sales presentation having recently been assembled.
Following the sale of Chelsea earlier this year, plenty of American groups and consortiums who staked their claim to acquire the west London club have been linked with a potential purchase of the Anfield club.
However, in mid-November the Mirror were reporting that there has been stern interest from the Middle East as FSG have been “swapped” with offers. They also report that the most recent point of interest has come from Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani.
Ambani was named the tenth richest person on the planet for 2022, and has a net worth of roughly $90.7bn.
The 65-year-old owns the cricket side Mumbai Indians and helped set up the first major football league in his country, the Indian Super League.
MUKESH AMBANI ‘STATEMENT’ CLARIFIES POSITION ON LIVERPOOL
On the other hand…Indian multi-billionaire Mukesh Ambani is not in the race to purchase Liverpool, according to reports in his home country.
On Sunday 13 November a report emerged in the Mirror that claimed Ambani had approached Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group over acquiring their shareholding and taking over the Reds.
Ambani, the eighth richest man in the world with a fortune estimated to be around ÃÂ£90bn, was linked with a bid for the Reds back in 2009, something that was denied at the time by both his office and then Liverpool chief executive Christian Purslow.
The Mirror reported that Ambani had revived his interest in purchasing the club after owners FSG opened themselves up to a potential full sale last week, a development first reported by the Athletic, with claims of an asking price of around ÃÂ£4bn mooted.
But on 14 November, major Indian media outlet ABP News claimed that a representative of Ambani’s Mumbai-based Reliance Industries firm has branded the reports as ‘fake’ and that the 65-year-old is not in the race to acquire the club.
‘SECRET TALKS’ AT A DISCOUNTED PRICE?
Fenway Sports Group are reportedly willing to consider offers below Liverpool’s current valuation in order to negotiate the sale of the club, according to a 13 November report.
Back in May, the Reds were valued at $4.45 billion by the American business magazine Forbes. Meanwhile, Premier League counterparts Chelsea were sold for an initial $3bn, suggesting that the Anfield club could be worth in excess of $4bn.
However, the Mail on Sunday is reporting that the American group – led by John W. Henry – could sanction a sale if they receive offers of $3bn; adding that sources have told the publication that FSG has been engaged in “secret talks” with another American group over a potential sale, with an approach made ‘ several weeks ago’.
MIKE GORDON TAKES A STEP BACK
Mike Gordon, the main link between the powers that be at Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group and Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, is understood to be transferring some of his job responsibilities to CEO Billy Hogan.
According the Boston Globe, a newspaper that FSG chief John Henry owns privately, FSG’s third in command, Gordon, is taking a step back from what had been a hands on role with the Reds for more than a decade, although the shifting of some of his role onto Hogan is not related a potential sale of the team after it emerged earlier this week that the owners were open to both investment and a potential full takeover.
Gordon has been a major link between FSG and Liverpool but has, the Globe reported on 11 November, sought to step away from the day-to-day at the club and pass more onto Hogan, someone with a growing reputation inside FSG. Sources told the Globe that the move was a ‘natural evolution’ with Hogan set to take up the kind of prominence at Liverpool that Sam Kennedy does in the same role with the Boston Red Sox.
JURGEN KLOPP COMMENTS
Jurgen Klopp is hopeful Fenway Sports Group’s plan to seek external investment for Liverpool can lead to greater resources in the transfer market.
And the Reds boss believes Liverpool‘s stable footing off the field means any potential investors or new ownership will be getting a club on the cusp of becoming an even bigger name in the world of sport.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of the home match against Southampton, he said: “In the structure we had we, obviously we were able to spend money, but it was always that we had to look at what did we earn? Are we around where we will come out at the end? That was always clear.
“We all know the two biggest transfers in the past – this year was Darwin, which was in between – were Alisson and Virgil (van Dijk). We all knew how it happened. We got money from Barcelona and spent it wisely I would say, so that is the situation.
“For me, how we did it so far brought us to where we are, that is all fine, but fresh money is no mistake, let me say it like this. Nothing gets cheaper. There is an inflation rate for all of us but in football as well.
“Yes, sometimes you have to spend. We are really happy to give all our young kids a chance and I am so positive about the impact they will have in the future, whenever that starts.
“Like Harvey Elliott now, Stefan Bajcetic, Cavlin Ramsay, Ben Doak, Bobby Clark, they are all interesting but from time to time you have to throw in proven quality. In an ideal world they are young as well! Or at least not 35.
“So yes, from time to time you have to take some risks and we will see. I have no idea what will happen, but I am positive about it. In the end if it is not positive, I can start worrying but I just think everything will be fine.”
In further comments in early November, Klopp voiced his approval of FSG’s decision to seek additional investment and labelled the Americans’ judgment as a “good idea”.
“What I read was they are looking for investors and that makes sense,” he said after the League Cup victory over Derby County. “A good idea, I like that. It didn’t distract the preparation at all. The players didn’t ask me but if they want to ask me I can tell them everything.
“For me it means nothing. Whatever happens, I really like how we work together with our owners but if that would change I’m committed to the club obviously. As far as I know they are looking for investors and I thought that makes sense.
Ã¢First and foremost Chelsea got sold, that’s how I understand it. They are looking for investors. The situation is completely different: Chelsea had to get sold because their owner was in trouble.
“Let me sum it up like this, there was a bit of urgency in the situation. We don’t have that here Ã¢ not at all. For me is it important while the process Ã¢ whatever it is – is happening we keep going and keep planning.
“These types of things take time, I’m not an expert in this, but whatever happens – and if someone comes in or whatever Ã¢ until then a lot of things can happen and in that time we have to keep going.”
He added: “Not only football-wise, in between as well and I will make sure that will be the case. That is all. At the moment nothing happened, it is just news which we knew and no-one had a heart attack when we got the news and thought ‘Oh my God, how can we carry on?’
“It’s a decision and it’s fine. We work really close together with FSG, it was a great relationship until now and it will not change Whatever happens we will see and we will deal with it.”
A multi-million dollar private investment will see a little touch of Hollywood brought to a small southern Manitoba town.
“There is a great deal of excitement, and a lot of people asking, ‘How does something like this come to Niverville of all places?,’ ” Niverville Mayor Myron Dyck said over the phone on Friday, one day after it was announced that a $30-million private-sector investment will see a state-of-the-art, full-service film and television studio village built in Niverville.
“We’re all still kind of wrapping our heads around it.”
The studio village, which will be dubbed Jette Studios, will “leverage the latest technology and include 18,581 sq.-ft. of studio space,” according to Volume Global and Julijette Inc., the two companies that will develop the project.
Dyck said there were several reasons Niverville was chosen for the project, including its location, because he said some filmmakers and crews want to avoid the much busier streets in Winnipeg if they can.
“We heard some say it’s easier not to have it in Winnipeg just with the amount of trucks and people they have to move around. It’s easier to not have to move all those vehicles around in downtown Winnipeg.”
He also credited the province’s Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit that was introduced in 2017, and the extra 5% rural tax credit currently offered to projects developed outside of Winnipeg.
“If a community seems attractive to work in, and then you factor in that extra rural tax credit, that can really be the deciding factor,” Dyck said.
According to the province, in the last year 122 film projects have benefitted from the tax credit program, and it has supported $525 million in production in Manitoba over a 30-month period.
The province said in a media release they have also been working recently at making Manitoba a destination for the film industry by helping the Winnipeg Airports Authority with expenses to improve direct flights to and from international destination like Los Angeles.
On Thursday, Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Obby Khan was in Niverville, and spoke about moves the province has been making in recent years to bring more film and TV projects to Manitoba.
“Manitoba’s film industry is thriving, in the last year generating $365 million,” Khan said. “Whether it’s the Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit, our new direct flights between Winnipeg and Los Angeles, or infrastructure improvements that propel growth, we are taking concrete steps to support Manitoba jobs and grow the economy.” Khan said.
Dyck said the town, located about 40 kilometres south of Winnipeg off of Highway 59, has seen large and continuous population growth for years, and he expects the studio project, which is expected to create 300 new jobs over the next three years, will see that growth continue.
“What we’ve seen with the last three census periods has been basically 6% growth every year, so that’s 30% every five years. We are one of the fastest growing communities in the province, and this will push that further we believe.
“It will be a significant economic driver for the community as a whole.”
Construction on Jette Studios in Niverville is expected to begin this summer, and those developing the project say they plan to first erect a 20,000 square foot pop-up soundstage that could be operational as early as this fall, and then work to build the permanent studio village facility.
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rowan, 78, wonders whether he and Willow, 58, have enough resources that she can fully retire and they can enjoy their planned lifestyle.
“I have good genes and based upon family history I anticipate living to 100,” he writes in an e-mail.
Willow is interested in continuing to work part time from home, “but not so much that it impinges on our desire to travel extensively,” he adds.
Their income comes from Rowan’s registered retirement income fund (RRIF), his government benefits and Willow’s contract work, for a combined $101,450 a year. Rowan wants to pay off their line of credit this year and wonders whether he should take the money from his tax-free savings account, his non-registered investment account or his RRIF. They also want to buy a used car.
They have substantial savings and investments and a mortgage-free house north of Toronto, all of which adds up to about $4.2-million. Their retirement spending target is roughly $96,000 a year after tax.
“We are currently 100-per-cent invested in the stock market in primarily Canadian dividend-paying stocks,” Rowan writes. “Should we be more conservative?” They also ask about establishing education trusts for their four grandchildren.
We asked Ian Calvert, vice-president and principal at HighView Financial Group of Oakville, Ont., to look at Rowan and Willow’s situation.
Rowan is retired and living off his RRIF withdrawals and government benefits, Mr. Calvert says. Willow is working part-time making $14,500 a year and planning to retire shortly.
Rowan is withdrawing $6,000 gross each month from his RRIF accounts, about $17,000 higher than his annual minimum withdrawal, the planner says. He does not recommend adjusting this amount when Willow retires. Instead, Willow should draw on the assets in her registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) when she retires fully.
“With no pension income and her Canadian Pension Plan and Old Age Security still five or six years away, the only income she will be reporting is the investment income in her non-registered portfolio, putting her in very low marginal tax bracket,” Mr. Calvert says. He suggests she withdraw $25,000 a year. Before making the withdrawal, she should convert her entire RRSP to a RRIF to avoid fees associated with the RRSP.
Under this scenario, their income in 2024 would be $72,000 from Rowan’s RRIF, $25,000 from Willow’s RRIF, $15,000 from Rowan’s CPP and $8,900 from his OAS, leaving $15,000 needed from their non-registered savings, of which $13,000 will go to their TFSA contributions. (Total income of $135,900 a year, less $25,500 for income taxes and $13,000 for TFSA contributions, leaves about $98,000 for after-tax expenses.)
Adding in $25,000 from Willow’s RRSP/RRIF would be an ideal figure for both managing longevity of their retirement assets and managing their tax brackets, keeping them both near the top of the 29.65-per-cent combined marginal tax bracket.
Under this plan, and after splitting Rowan’s RRIF withdrawal ($36,000), they are expected to have income of $84,000 for Rowan and $77,000 for Willow. Rowan’s income is higher because he is receiving CPP and OAS, and has a larger non-registered portfolio.
In 2029, when Willow turns 65 and starts to receive her CPP and OAS, their income will rise to the point there is some clawback of their OAS, Mr. Calvert says. “At this age, they could simply trim their RRIF withdrawals, which are well above the mandatory minimums each year,” the planner says. OAS benefits start to be reduced when net income reaches $86,912 a year. This amount is expected to increase each year.
The total withdrawal from their $2.7-million portfolio is about $100,000 – about 3.7 per cent of their portfolio value, Mr. Calvert says. “If they can manage this rate of withdrawal and maintain on average a 5-per-cent rate of return on their portfolio, longevity of their investment assets won’t be a major long-term concern,” he says. This is before Willow begins collecting government benefits, which are expected to add a combined $18,500 per year. Long term, inflation is forecast to rise by at least 2 per cent to 3 per cent a year.
This rate of withdrawal has several advantages, the planner says. First, they are both reducing their RRIF assets at a strategic rate, which will have a significant impact on the taxes payable on the transition of wealth to their beneficiaries, the planner says. Second, the withdrawal requirements from their non-registered portfolio are minimal, giving them long-term flexibility if their lifestyle changes and they need to make larger withdrawals, he adds. Last, they are building up their TFSA for a more tax-efficient balance sheet that will also enhance the transfer of wealth.
Rowan and Willow have a line of credit for $82,500 at 6.5 per cent. They should consider paying this off entirely, Mr. Calvert says.
Their portfolio is entirely invested in stocks, of which 85 per cent are Canadian stocks with an average 4-per-cent dividend yield. “The 4-per-cent dividend yield is great and will substantially help the longevity of their assets by funding and smoothing the withdrawals from both their RRIFs and non-registered portfolio,” the planner says.
This strong allocation to Canadian dividend stocks is intuitively appealing but comes at the expense of proper global and asset-class diversification, Mr. Calvert says. “Rowan and Willow should consider an investment strategy that balances income generation and capital appreciation – and generating this performance from a wider variety of investment assets.”
If they choose to maintain their current all-stock strategy they should keep two things in mind, he says.
First, any U.S. dividend stocks should not be held in TFSAs because non-resident withholding tax is applied and cannot be recovered. Second, they need to take an honest look at the sustainability of their strategy because it needs to fund their expenses for the rest of their lives. “There is an abundance of academic research showing that individuals make poor decisions with individual stocks,” Mr. Calvert says. As well, one spouse usually takes the lead in do-it-yourself investing decisions. As that decision-maker grows older, sustainability can become questionable, the planner says.
If they decide to increase their U.S. exposure with some U.S. dividend stocks, their RRIFs would be the best location for these new holdings for three reasons, Mr. Calvert says. They could rebalance without triggering any capital gains. This would leave the Canadian dividend stocks in their non-registered portfolio to continue to receive preferential tax treatment. “Finally, and very importantly, U.S. stock dividends paid into an RRSP/RRIF are free from withholding taxes for Canadian residents,” the planner says.
For Rowan and Willow, leaving funds for their grandchildren is top priority. They should start by setting up registered retirement education plans for each grandchild and making an annual contribution of $2,500 each. The RESP is a terrific account for several reasons, he says. It will allow the funds to grow with a tax deferral and will be eligible for a $500 annual education savings grant on contributions of $2,500, up to a maximum of $7,200. “When establishing this account, they should consider setting it up as a joint subscriber account and appointing a successor subscriber in their will for estate-planning purposes,” Mr. Calvert says.
They also ask about establishing a trust for the grandchildren. A testamentary trust can be an effective estate-planning tool under the right conditions, he says. This type of structure, typically established upon death, would allow them to control the timing and distribution of their assets after their passing, he says. Before exploring this option, they should consult with an estate-planning specialist to fully understand not just the benefits, but also the complexities and costs of maintaining the trust.
The People: Rowan, age 78, and Willow, 58.
The Problem: Can they afford for Willow to retire now and to travel extensively while still leaving some money for their grandchildren? Should they invest more conservatively?
The Plan: When she retires fully, Willow taps into her RRSP. They split Rowan’s RRIF income to keep their income roughly equal and below the OAS clawback range. They take steps to diversify their investment portfolio both globally and by asset class. Open RESPs for the grandchildren and contribute the maximum.
The Payoff: All their financial goals achieved.
Monthly net income: $8,100.
Assets: Cash $4,000; his non-registered $707,600; her non-registered $459,000; his TFSA $214,000; her TFSA $75,000; his RRIF $877,300; her RRSP $305,300, residence $1,500,000. Total: $4.2-million.
Monthly outlays: Property tax $400; water, sewer, garbage $30; home insurance $275; electricity $155; heating $135; maintenance, security, garden $235; transportation $350; groceries $750; clothing $90; line of credit $415; gifts, charity $225; vacation, travel $2,500; travel insurance $90; dining, drinks, entertainment $375; personal care $50; club memberships $130; golf $75; sports, hobbies $100; subscriptions $50; health care $115; communications $370; TFSAs $1,085. Total: $8,000.
Liabilities: Line of credit $82,500 at 6.5 per cent.
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Some details may be changed to protect the privacy of the persons profiled.
Death and taxes are, as Benjamin Franklin famously declared, two of life’s certainties.
Investment fees may be a worthy addition to that list in the modern era — though not all investors are aware of this near-universal fact.
The fees financial services firms charge can be murky.
One-fifth of consumers think their investment services are free of cost, according to a recent Hearts & Wallets survey of about 6,000 U.S. households. Another 36% reported not knowing their fees.
A separate poll conducted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation similarly found that 21% of people believe they don’t pay any fees to invest in non-retirement accounts. That share is up from 14% in 2018, the last time FINRA issued the survey.
The broad ecosystem of financial services companies doesn’t work for free. These firms — whether an investment fund or financial advisor, for example — generally levy investment fees of some kind.
Those fees may largely be invisible to the average person. Firms disclose their fees in fine print but generally don’t ask customers to write a check or debit money from their checking accounts each month, as non-financial firms might do for a subscription or utility payment.
Instead, they withdraw money behind the scenes from a customer’s investment assets — charges that can easily go unnoticed.
“It’s relatively frictionless,” said Christine Benz, director of personal finance at Morningstar. “We’re not conducting a transaction to pay for those services.”
“And that makes you much less sensitive to the fees you’re paying — in amount and whether you’re paying fees at all.”
Investment fees are often expressed as a percentage of investors’ assets, deducted annually.
Investors paid an average 0.40% fee for mutual and exchange-traded funds in 2021, according to Morningstar. This fee is also known as an “expense ratio.”
That means the average investor with $10,000 would have had $40 withdrawn from their account last year. That dollar fee would rise or fall each year according to the investment balance.
The percentage and dollar amount may seem innocuous, but even small variations in fees can add up significantly over time due to the power of compounding. In other words, in paying higher fees an investor loses not only that extra money but the growth it could have seen over decades.
It’s relatively frictionless. We’re not conducting a transaction to pay for those services.Christine Benzdirector of personal finance at Morningstar
The bulk — 96% — of investors who responded to FINRA’s survey noted their main motivation for investing is to make money over the long term.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has an example to demonstrate the long-term dollar impact of fees. The example assumes a $100,000 initial investment earning 4% a year for 20 years. An investor who pays a 0.25% annual fee versus one paying 1% a year would have roughly $30,000 more after two decades: $208,000 versus $179,000.
That dollar sum might well represent about a year’s worth of portfolio withdrawals in retirement, give or take, for someone with a $1 million portfolio.
In all, a fund with high costs “must perform better than a low-cost fund to generate the same returns for you,” the SEC said.
Fees can have a big financial impact on common decisions such as rolling over money from a 401(k) plan into an individual retirement account.
Rollovers — which might occur after retirement or a job change, for example — play a “particularly important” role in opening traditional, or pretax, IRAs, according to the Investment Company Institute.
Seventy-six percent of new traditional IRAs were opened only with rollover dollars in 2018, according to ICI, an association representing regulated funds, including mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and closed-end funds.
This annual fee structure isn’t necessarily the case for all investors.
For example, some financial planners have shifted to a flat-dollar fee, whether an ongoing subscription-type fee or a one-time fee for a consultation.
And some fee models are different. Investors who buy single stocks or bonds may pay a one-time upfront commission instead of an annual fee. A rare handful of investment funds may charge nothing at all; in these cases, firms are likely trying to attract customers to then cross-sell them other products that do carry a fee, said Benz of Morningstar.
Here’s the good news for many investors: Even if you haven’t been paying attention to fees, they’ve likely declined over time.
Fees for the average fund investor have fallen by half since 2001, to 0.40% from 0.87%, according to Morningstar. This is largely due to investors’ preferences for low-cost funds, particularly so-called index funds, Morningstar said.
Index funds are passively managed; instead of deploying stock- or bond-picking strategies, they seek to replicate the performance of a broad market index such as the S&P 500 Index, a barometer of U.S. stock performance. They’re typically less expensive than actively managed funds.
Investors paid an average 0.60% for active funds and 0.12% for index funds in 2021, according to Morningstar.
Benz recommends 0.50% as a “good upper threshold for fees.” It may make sense to pay more for a specialized fund or a small fund that must charge more each year due to smaller economies of scale, Benz said.
A higher fee — say, 1% — may also be reasonable for a financial advisor, depending on the services they provide, Benz said. For 1%, which is a common fee among financial advisors, customers should expect to get services beyond investment management, such as tax management and broader financial planning.
“The good news is most advisors are indeed bundling those services together,” she said.
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