How did Fenway Sports Group develop Liverpool FC?
How did Fenway Sports Group develop Liverpool FC?
Its American owners made glaring mistakes…but they left an excellent legacy that will last for years
Wednesday – 28 Jumada al-Awwal 1444 AH – 21 December 2022 AD Issue number [
Mike Gordon, president of Fenway Sports Group (center) and the 2019 Champions League Cup (Getty Images)
London: Andy Hunter
Whatever the outcome of Fenway Sports Group’s search for new investment in Liverpool, the sale offer from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley on their behalf will look far more attractive than it did when JW Henry & Co took over the club 12 years ago. They could certainly sell Liverpool, either in whole or in part, in a much better state than the club was in when they took it over.
And now another high stand is being built at Anfield, which will increase the stadium’s capacity to more than 61,000 when it is completed at the start of next season. The cost of the new runway is around £80m, £20m more than expected before the Corona virus outbreak, and is the third major development overseen by American owners Liverpool FC. It should be noted that three of the most expensive capital projects in the club’s history – Anfield Road, the £114m Main Stand and the £50m AXA Training Center in Kirkby – took place under the supervision of Fenway Sports Group. This resolved the stadium and redevelopment issues that plagued Liverpool and the wider Anfield area long before the club was taken over by American owners.
Certainly, without German manager Jurgen Klopp’s huge success on the pitch, Fenway Sports Group would not have been able to expand Anfield to meet increasing demand or seek potential investors for a club worth around €5bn (£4.3bn). And when Mike Gordon, chairman of Fenway Sports Group, saw around 750,000 spectators waiting for 2019 Champions League winners Liverpool to celebrate this achievement, he decided the expansion plans would be more ambitious.
Gordon’s wise and skillful management was behind many of the key decisions that got Liverpool back on track after two disastrous spells under the ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett, two names that would make any Liverpool fan shudder with fear and anxiety when talking about Liverpool’s change of ownership. . The contract with Klopp, the sale of Philippe Coutinho, the insistence on the signing of the giant Dutch defender Van Dijk, the infrastructure projects and the increase in Liverpool’s commercial attractiveness, all took place under the supervision and direction of Gordon, who is very involved in the day-to-day affairs of the club, although he resides in Boston.
The chairman of Fenway Sports Group has developed a close personal and working relationship with Klopp, which should not be overlooked when it comes to the search for a new owner. That strong bond was one of the very influential factors in the German coach extending his contract three times, the last of which was just eight months ago, but it is certain that the negotiations with Klopp would not have proceeded at the same speed, or perhaps they would not have succeeded, had he known, then the club would be sold.
Liverpool have had fluctuating levels this season and it is clear that the team needed strong midfield support last summer, with Klopp admitting he wanted Fenway Sports Group to take more risks in the transfer market, prompting others to criticize sports model of the club. But this model has always been based on strict enforcement of the rules of financial fair play.
As Fenway Sports Group struggles to compete with club owners from wealthy countries, it has begun to intensify its search for new investment. Liverpool’s stable and successful management was not without mistakes. Liverpool’s owners were among the main drivers behind the European Super League project, which collapsed before it even started. However, this led to the creation of the Supporters’ Committee – representatives of the fans on the board and at an executive level within the club. Thus, the club’s statute now includes an obligation to maintain this national team in the event of a change of ownership.
There was also the so-called “big picture project” which tried to fire around 200 club employees at the beginning of the epidemic, before this project was canceled after 48 hours amid fierce criticism. The increase in ticket prices for matches also led to a mass exodus of fans in 2016, which also led to the club abandoning the increase in ticket prices, and attempts to register the word “Liverpool” as a trademark failed.
However, the bigger picture that the Americans are now looking to sell to potential investors includes a state-of-the-art Anfield stadium, a football team that has reached the knockout stages of the Champions League for six consecutive seasons and one of the most famous managers in the game. It may never be enough for some critics, but one thing’s for sure, it’s a lot better than it was under Roy Hodgson and Paul Konchesky!