An American billionaire who was linked with Liverpool for a change of ownership has taken a step closer to sealing a record-breaking takeover deal.
A group led by Josh Harris has reached an agreement in principle to buy the NFL team the Washington Commanders for $6.05 billion from current owner Dan Snyder. Should the purchase go through, it would make it the most expensive takeover of a sports team in history.
Harris had previously been linked with purchasing a stake in Liverpool Football Club (LFC), as its current owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) seek fresh investment.
However, should the purchase of the Commanders go ahead, it may put paid to Harris and David Blitzer becoming involved with LFC.
Liverpool: appealing to American investors?
The value of Liverpool has been estimated at £3.8 billion, making it the second most valuable club in the Premier League after Manchester United.
FSG purchased Liverpool for just £300 million and could stand to sell for at least 12 times their investment if early projections ring true.
FSG is seeking investment in Liverpool, with a partial rather than a complete sale of the club preferred. Possible investors from Qatar and America have been mooted.
What is the appeal of owning a Premier League football club like Liverpool? To those with the funds and ambition to even contemplate a deal that is likely to cost at least £4 billion, the answer is incredibly simple.
Who wouldn’t want to invest in a global sporting brand that is regarded as recession-proof and with the potential to offer low risk, high reward, and an unfailingly loyal customer base?
Fan loyalty is another big appeal and Liverpool’s global support is perhaps only surpassed by United, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Liverpool earned £151.9 million in Premier League prize money during the 2021-22 season and a further £102 million in earnings from UEFA after reaching the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Paris.
It is such commercial power, and Liverpool’s on-field success and history, that makes them such a compelling acquisition for potential new owners, particularly for American private equity funds who want success and financial growth.
What’s next for Liverpool – Partial or Complete takeover?
FSG principal John Henry admitted earlier this year that talks were ongoing for investment in Liverpool. He told the Boston Sports Journal:
“I know there has been a lot of conversation and quotes about LFC, but I keep to the facts: we merely formalized an ongoing process,”
“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?”
It was recently reported that FSG had appointed Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to explore a potential sale of their majority stake in Liverpool, with the Ricketts family and a consortium led by former Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton named as early candidates for any deal.
While there has been no concrete decision on selling the club, several potential investors have been named, including the Ricketts family and a consortium led by former Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton.
Broughton previously oversaw the sale of the club to FSG in 2010.
Liverpool’s recent valuation makes it an attractive proposition for American investors looking to enter the world’s most-watched football league.
While FSG has confirmed that Liverpool is on the market, they are said to prefer a partial rather than a complete sale.
The possibility of a sale has sparked anticipation among supporters, but FSG’s recent move is being viewed as exploratory, and they have stated that they have a plan in place should they choose to continue as owners.
Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool’s manager, has recently admitted the difficulty in competing with state-funded clubs such as Newcastle United and Manchester City.
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