FSG: The Caretakers Role coming to an end?

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A desolate house gives off a bad first impression. You see the exterior and it’s judged purely on that. You don’t see what’s beneath the cod web and boarded up windows. You look at the rickety, rotted beams that barely keep the house standing and think it’s just been poorly looked after.

Set foot on the staircase and the creaks of the once lavish wood will tell you all you need to know of times gone by.

One more storm and this house will be a story you tell your grandkids. A once grand mansion, the envy of everyone, close to being nothing. Why? Poor investments and costly mistakes. This lavish mansion needed to be built upon but various owners tried to cut corners. A hole in the roof was papered over with cardboard. Rot inevitably set in yet as inevitable as this was it shocked the owners and those involved.

FSG - Caretakers Role

A businessman and his wife hear about this house. The potential it has and the profits that can be made.

He buys it and sets about returning it to its former glory. In some ways. He starts by getting rid of the bad foundations. The decor is brought into the modern times and it looks appealing. Electricity providers changed to save on outgoings, energy saving lightbulbs bought by the bulk. All done on a tight budget of course.  Advisors close to the businessman suggest he improves the front of house but the owner chuckles to himself, “If I was keeping it I’d spend more. I’m just the caretaker”. He’s right. Why spend on luxuries for somebody else to reap the rewards? You spend what’s necessary to get the job done. The job of course is making it look like an attractive house for somebody to buy off of you.

People who have fond memories of the once great house are obviously grateful for them saving it. Why wouldn’t you be? You do have concerns that instead of adding to this house they’re simply consolidating what’s there in order to make a profit. Why buy a new staircase when a lick of paint would suffice, right? It’s not something you can blame them for originally, but when it’s holding the development of the house back it becomes an issue.

This story may seem a little familiar to you all. It’s the story of Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool FC.

I’m not knocking FSG either, they’re businessmen and they’ve never hidden that fact. They aren’t setting down roots in Liverpool though. They aren’t like the owners of Manchester City or PSG. I use those two teams as examples because they’ve not been under new ownership for that long. They’re short term caretakers of our club, overseeing it’s revival but as a business, not a footballing juggernaut it once was.

John W.Henry is currently worth $2.1 Billion, so it’s safe to say he’s not short of money and he’s not reckless with it. He knows how to run a business and under his ownership Liverpool have cut 40% off their ludicrous wage bill. Ludicrous in terms of who was earning what. At the time we weren’t, and still aren’t, in the Champions League but we were paying players Champions League wages. He and his team have managed to bring in a number of  profitable sponsorship deal by using his power in America. We’ve seen the likes of Standard Chartered, Warrior, New Balance and Majestic Atheltic all get involved with the Liverpool brand.

During his time at the club Liverpool FC has more than doubled in value. FSG paid £300 million for the Reds in 2010 and now the club is worth £650 million plus.

They had a clear idea of how they’d get by the strict FFP rules. They’d buy players young, develop them and then sell for a big profit and reinvest that money into the team. This has worked to some extent with the likes of Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho. Yes I know Coutinho is still here but if Liverpool were to sell the Brazilian we’d more than likely quadruple what we paid for him. It’s been said that FSG have openly admitted they wouldn’t have bought us had FFP not been in place, thus meaning spending large amounts on players was never their idea. They wanted to keep it within certain parameters. FSG have given Rodgers plenty of money to spend but we’ve spent it poorly 50% of the time. Which leads me onto my next point.

There’s no room for sentiment in business.

Why are FSG persisting with Brendan Rodgers? They wanted a transfer committee in place yet hired Brendan Rodgers despite him saying he wouldn’t work with one. They forced a transfer committee onto him with the sole purpose of having the committee identify players such as Lazar Markovic, Mamadou Sakho, Emre Can etc. Players who could be developed and sold for profits. It makes sense on paper but when these players don’t meet what Rodgers is looking for in a player it becomes an issue because you’re wasting 50% of your transfer budget on players that won’t play. You should either stick with Rodgers or replace him with a manager who plays the game.

Secondly, with Manchester United so weak currently and top 4 there for the taking, why aren’t they doing all they can to get that Champions League spot? Yes we spent £90 million this summer and I’m happy with the signings but don’t you ever think if we stepped it up a level we’d surpass United? We seem to be shopping on a level that’ll consolidate us, not push us on. There is no reason FSG couldn’t have sanctioned as big money deal for a big player and offered big wages as a huge statement of intent that we’re doing everything we can for top 4 and we’re replacing Gerrard with another huge name, but why would they? They aren’t staying at Liverpool. That would be an unnecessary expense.


Lastly, If FSG really wanted to get top 4 then why would they persist with Brendan Rodgers after last season. It wouldn’t be change for the sake of it either. Poor performances, not showing up in big games and an utterly abysmal finish to the season. That’s grounds to be dismissed in the cut throat world of football. It’s not like they had no other choices. Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti are just two managers out of a job. You then have to consider the cost to sacking Rodgers and his staff. Then hiring a manager and his staff. Then backing them in the market. Cheaper to just stick with a manager that gives you top 7 football and maybe, just maybe, surprise you and get you top 4 again but it’s not a necessity.

Paul Joyce recently said the club ‘expected a slow start’. That epitomises, for me anyway, how FSG aren’t bothered about making top 4. It’s viewed as an added bonus to them. Our start was difficult on paper but if you really want Champions League football you plan accordingly. You don’t write off the opening few games, you buy, you plan and you come up with ways to maximise the chances of winning and if it costs money then so be it. You pay now and reap the rewards later when you’ve got a Champions League side.

You can’t hate FSG, they’ve developed the club and it’s at its most healthy in years but Liverpool FC need to take that step soon and really go at it for top 4. Investment is needed in the squad, more than FSG are willing to spend. If they hang on to the club for too long it could stunt the progression of the club. The gap between top 4 and the rest won’t be this close for a long time in my opinion.

With FFP being so lax now it feels to me like that has come as a surprise to FSG. This could be a few years ahead of their projected plan but it doesn’t matter much. They always intended to sell Liverpool and it all points to that. As soon as the stadium expansion is complete I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see FSG sell up. Liverpool are an attractive proposition now, increased stadium, huge sponsorships and an incentivised wage bill. The foundations are there for new owners to build on.

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  1. As much as i’d love new owners, I don’t see any city type owners coming in spending a billion on buying and investing in the club. If there was they’d have bought the club already.

    If what you are saying that the new stand would be a clincher to any potential buyers, it would imply they would want to see some return on their investment (which is like the owners we have) but we were for sale and actively looked (for a sugar daddy) in the dark days of late G&H.

    Hope i’m wrong!

  2. Ugh. They’re not selling any time soon. If Rodgers was playing Sakho and subbing Markovich and Ings we’d probably not have a problem with the points. If they’d had a draw at United or a second home win, we’d be happy. I doubt Barcelona would look good after playing alternating away games at Chelsea, City, United, Arsenal. If a clearly better manager was available to us, I think we’d bought him. Hope Klopp is rested and ready, he’s the best we can get.

  3. What a ludicrous article! FSG have invested heavily in the squad and the stadium. They’re in it the long haul just like they are with the Red Sox. Signing a “big name” player for big bucks clearly isn’t as easy as it sounds: just look at Arsenal this summer and Stevie G’s recent comments on how we went after Kroos and Willian but they weren’t interested.

    I say get behind the team and the manager that FSG have out in place. Not every signing has worked out, but that’s the same for every club in every league. We’ve had more hits than misses pound-for-pound, and I still back Rodgers to get us playing attacking (winning!) football come December. Remember that from December onwards, ALL of the top seven teams have to visit Anfield, and if we’ve hit our stride again then we are in for an exciting second half of the season. Patience is required.

  4. I can’t see FSG selling the club because that isn’t how they operate. They buy storied franchises, improve the financial conditions, and spend what it takes to return them to glory. In recent years, FSG has spent on par with the other big clubs and they are ready to spend even more if the opportunity presents itself. FSG is willing to spend on a “huge” name but it isn’t just a matter of money. The player has to want to come. Keeping Brendan Rodgers is either misplaced loyalty or a brilliant decision. I am leaning toward the former. I think they wanted to give Rodgers a fair chance, buy the players he asked for, and see if he could make a run of it. If he fails to make strides by Christmas, or maybe even sooner, believe they let him go. Make no mistake about it – FSG has improve the talent level on this club but they are satisfied with sixth place finishes. Just like with the Red Sox they will do and spend what is necessary to win championships. They aren’t cheap but they aren’t stupid either. They want the club to make money by increasing revenue and by making smart investments in players. The value of the club has more than doubled but can you imagine what it would be worth if it was contending for the title each year? I am sure FSG knows. Once they bought the RedSix and starting going to the Workd Series on a regular basis the value of the team skyrocketed. The same will happen with Liverpool and they know it. They have brought in great sponsors and are expanding the Kop to increase revenue so they can afford quality players. It’s great business but not the sign of an owner getting ready to sell.

  5. well said…brendon should of went last season, the facts you have pointed out are true…he imo should of never got anywere near anfield with his cv, FSG are to blame for this employing him and not sacking him last season.. i think if a big offer came in they would sell and maybey that would be a good thing we need to be better than a mid table team with a championship manager.

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