“FSG has said before that under the right terms and conditions we would consider new shareholders if it was in the best interests of Liverpool as a club. FSG remains fully committed to the success of Liverpool, both on and off the pitch.”
In hiring Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, Liverpool’s owners have hired two banking giants, known for extracting significant fees for mergers and acquisition transactions. F.S.G. had by contrast used the same boutique firm it had used when it purchased Liverpool to sell the minority stake to Redbird last March. The sale is being handled out of London, where Liverpool also has an office. Both banks declined to comment.
The price paid for Chelsea was at the time more than had been spent on any franchise in any sport, and has only been bettered by the price secured by the outgoing owners of the National Football League’s Denver Broncos. Liverpool is more popular than both those teams, and most other clubs anywhere.
Other soccer teams have also been sold for significant sums in recent months. In August Redbird, the minority investor in F.S.G., bought AC Milan for the equivalent of $1.2 billion, the highest fee for a soccer franchise outside of the United Kingdom. John Textor, another American investor, has agreed to lead a buyout of Lyon for about $800 million, the most ever paid for a French team.
Forbes values Liverpool at $4.45 billion, about ten times what F.S.G. paid.
The Boston-based group has also invested in the team’s infrastructure, revamping its historic Anfield stadium with two new stands and also built a new practice facility.
But there has been growing concern privately among the ownership about whether the team can continue competing at the top of the league and in European competition against teams owned by Gulf states. Manchester City, which has been the dominant English team for much of the past decade, is owned by the brother of the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, and recently Newcastle was purchased by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. While Qatar has powered Paris St.-Germain’s rise to superiority in France.
City’s spending has been particularly hard to match, with Liverpool among a group of Premier League clubs frustrated at the pace of an ongoing investigation into allegations City breached the league’s financial rules to fuel its success.