Michael Baddeley begs the question; is it time Liverpool changed ownership to evolve into a modern football behemoth?
Fenway Sports Group saved Liverpool Football Club, no two ways about it. Back in 2010 when John W. Henry purchased the club he saved us from administration. The club was “seconds away from financial disaster” as Ian Ayre said. We were a mess. But they’ve turned that right around.
FSG has taken us from the brink of losing it all to one of the clubs who can compete on a commercial level with the biggest clubs around the world. They’ve made big decisions like being ruthless in terms of management and now have one of the best managers in the world at the helm. They’ve always backed the manager with money and invested in players, whether they have been poor buys or not, you cannot knock the amount of money they have given managers. And to top it off they’ve finally upgraded Anfield.
The club had a debt of £237 million when they took over in 2010. Five years later they announced that the debt had initially increased by £12.2 million but was now down to £53.7 million. They also announced that for the financial ending on May 31st 2014, the club had made a profit of £900,000 before tax, a first in seven years.2 years later on and we’re now debt free. A £60 million profit for the financial year ending on May 31st 2015 meant FSG could finally wipe that debt off and balance the books at the club.
According to the figures taken from Deloitte’s Football Money League, Liverpool are the ninth richest club in the world with a revenue of £298.1 million in 2015. Only four English sides generated more money in this time, those clubs being Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea and Man United.
In summary, the debt is down, revenue is up, investment on a commercial level is up and the stadium expansion is nearing completion. They’ve even cut the wage bill down. Financially, they have made Liverpool FC a big club again. Fantastic. I thank them for this and I’m probably not the only fan that will thank them.
The one problem I do have with them is their tactics in the transfer market. Yes they’re backing managers and I can’t argue with that. What I am bothered about, and what I will argue against is the transfer model they have.
The strategy of buying players on potential, bringing them through together, coaching them into a great side with the possibility of selling them on for a massive profit and then repeating the process won’t work in this day and age. It sounds beautiful, but unfortunately it won’t work.
In fact, the whole process of making a star and then selling him on for mega profit has only worked with one player, Luis Suarez, but he was an anomaly. Even Raheem Sterling has been swallowed by the expectation and money in his £49 million move to Manchester City. Unfortunately, I fear that Coutinho will be the second to do so, and I know that I’m not the only one that fears this.
As Alan Hansen famously said, “You can’t win anything with kids”. Alright, he said it about the famous ‘Class of 92’ and was proven wrong about that team. But if you look at it in the long run, he’s right. Who else has won a league with just a team of kids that have been bought through together? None.
Look across the league. The top teams have bought ready made talent, forking out hundreds of thousands on wages, spending £30/£40 million and as a result they’re getting success from it. We’ve got potential right across the team, but it’s about time we added some quality and experience to the ranks.
Splashing the money on youth and paying them pennies in comparison to these top players will keep the wage bill down, something that FSG focus on to keep us as a self-sufficient business. But why not break the mould for just a few players?
The old story of ‘we need Champions League football to attract big names’ is a myth. In modern football money talks. There’s no such thing as loyalty and ambition nowadays. Alright, we aren’t competing amongst the elite on the pitch. But we are up there on the financial playing field. Use that money, break the mould, test these players and try to sign ready made talent. It’s the missing piece in the jigsaw for Liverpool.
Get the experienced, ready made, big names players and get Champions League football. If we are successful in that then the money we get from European football will cover the slightly increased wage budget – simple.
If they aren’t ready to do that then I think its time to part ways. Thanks for dragging us into the modern world of football and building a platform for us to build on, I for one, and I’m sure many others will thank you for it. But we need to use the moment we have and carry on moving forward.
Drop the model of buying young players to sell on for a profit just for a little while. If you love the club and want to be a part of a successful period for one of the worlds biggest clubs then it’s what you need to do. If not then we could be better off being sold to a filthy rich Arabian prince that will not only splash the money on the best talent, but will also find some way to keep pumping money into the club and maybe even keeping us self-sufficient. We need to compete on the field too and at the moment we aren’t doing that and won’t be any time soon unless things change.
As I stated before FSG has been a breath of fresh air to the club and I am eternally grateful for them saving us from the brink of who knows what, but its time Liverpool progress on the field. I’ll let you make your own choice.