The want of any football fan is their team to be winning. The added fantasy scenario attached to that dream, is often too far fetched to comprehend. Yet in the modern game, fantasy football may not be that far away for Liverpool Football Club.
With Newcastle set to embark on a new era, they join the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea as a team intent on making financial waves within the Premier League. With specific ownership, financial fair play was always going to be a difficult objective to govern. Under new ownership, the Geordie fan base will be hoping they can join the big spenders, and enjoy a much deserved period of prosperity.
Mike Ashley was the most lacklustre owner Newcastle United could have hoped for, with his profiteering ways continually angering the fan base. The eventual sale to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund brought little scepticism, even with the stories surrounding the new owners. Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce appeared content with seeing out their days, in the knowledge that a big payout was coming. The cash flow could now be directed towards the new manager’s transfer dealings, with Eddie Howe now confirmed as Newcastle manager. A Sporting Director will inevitably be brought in, with the two positions peculiarly targeted in the wrong order. Nevertheless, Newcastle may be about to embroil themselves in their own spending spree. The whole situation leaves me wondering how Liverpool might react, if they too were bought by owners of such wealth.
FSG are a group of investors that have been able to fast forward Liverpool FC into the 21st century. They are neither overeager fans, nor a state-backed business group that could spend their way to success. John W Henry and his partners were intent in making Liverpool as valuable and sustainable as possible, and in this regard, their tenure has to be admired. Liverpool were on their knees under Hicks & Gillet, and they could have easily spent the last ten years like Leeds, after their own historic implosion.
Instead of that Leeds type scenario, FSG have methodically built a brilliantly tiered group. Each Director was installed to excel within their own area of expertise, and it has helped the club become what it is today. The commercial side has been revolutionised, the recruitment strategy has been a remarkable success, and the coaching department stands as one of the finest in world football. The club is now realigning itself (after the losses caused by the pandemic), and in the next few years they will surely look to sell the club. The profit that could be achieved for FSG will be eye watering, and if the club is to be valued at over £3 billion, that could be the signal needed to cash in.
FSG has a model that dictates all transfers are covered by sales, and therefore may see limitations in the near future. If Liverpool were to fall out of the Premier League’s top four, the clubs valuation would inevitably stagnate. In order to maintain the clubs peak value, they will either have to invest heavily in the playing squad, or sell to owners who are able to. As Jürgen Klopp fast approaches the end of his Liverpool reign, there has to have been internal discussions regarding how the club moves forward. The resignation of Michael Edwards is a huge blow, and with Newcastle intent on gate crashing the big six, Liverpool cannot be certain of their current position for too long. With FSG’s insistence on controlled expenditure, Liverpool’s rivals could well overtake the Reds in the coming years. A lack of investment in adequate signings would inevitably see Liverpool drop out of the Champions League. This piece will look at a scenario where the club is indeed sold, before such a situation becomes reality.
The Chinese Sovereign Wealth Fund appear to hold an interest in Liverpool Football Club. In the event of FSG selling the Anfield club, it would take this kind of ownership group to buy Liverpool FC. Such a deal would immediately make the Reds the richest club on the planet, and with the Premier League continually attracting huge investment groups, it’s not unthinkable that this could happen.
If Liverpool struggle once more to make top four, the idea of a sale becomes more apparent. With a club as organised and respected in world football, Liverpool would not require the slow build Newcastle are about to explore. As Julian Ward prepares to take on his role as Sporting Director, such new ownership would see Liverpool able to explode in the market.
To consider key areas that require investment, the midfield and attack would top the list of need. Jude Bellingham and Nicolò Barella would immediately become viable options, and vastly improve the midfield group. The centre forward position is a role that appears open to a new face, and the likes of Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe and Federico Chiesa would also become viable targets. The overall depth of the squad is now a real issue, and varying additions could be made to bolster the squad. Where a world class team currently resides, to make the squad truly elite would not require an overhaul. The fantasy element will at some point be imagined by all Liverpool fans, but the idea of such signings are currently too far fetched.
The day is approaching where Liverpool have to be sold, and that would alert only a handful of potential buyers. FSG will continue to sit back and watch their investment grow, whilst responsibly improving the clubs infrastructure. Where some fans may shudder at the thought of Newcastle’s new wealth, it could actually set Liverpool on the road to their own windfall. However the next few years unfold, the team remains in a brilliant position. As Klopp nears the exit door, that could coincide with either new investment or new ownership. If that were to happen, we could see Liverpool not just maintain their lofty position, but embark on a new and exciting chapter of fantasy football.