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Liverpool takeover latest as Premier League rule change unlikely to impact Saudi Arabia interest

Liverpool sale latest including first FSG quotes, potential buyers, others who are ruled out, asking price and more.

 

Fenway Sports Group are seeking new shareholders at Liverpool and have not ruled out the prospect of a full sale at the club.

 

The American group, led by principal owner John W. Henry, have also recruited major banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to assess market conditions.

 

After The Athletic (via David Ornstein) broke the story of a potential sale early in November, FSG provided the following statement to the ECHO: “There have been a number of recent changes of ownership and rumours of changes in ownership at EPL clubs and inevitably we are asked regularly about Fenway Sports Group’s ownership in Liverpool.

 

“FSG has frequently received expressions of interest from third parties seeking to become shareholders in Liverpool. 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.”

 

Here we take a look at what has been said so far, why FSG may be selling, the view of Jurgen Klopp – and who could potentially buy the club…

 

PREMIER LEAGUE RULE CHANGES WON’T BAN SAUDI TAKEOVERS

 

The Premier League have no plans to introduce changes to their owners and directors’ test to prevent a Saudi investor taking over at Liverpool, according to the Telegraph.

 

Fenway Sports Group made clear their desire to seek further investment over a fortnight ago, with confirmation from chairman Tom Werner since that the American Group are open to a full sale.

 

On Wednesday, the Saudi Arabian sports minister admitted that the Saudi Arabian government would “definitely support” private sector bids for the Reds and Manchester United – also put up for sale recently.

 

Premier League clubs are yet to agree on the full terms of the new owners and directors’ test, but the report states that ‘its current draft will not preclude individuals on the basis of the political or human rights’ record of their country of origin.’

 

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters detailed how the league had consulted with Amnesty International over introducing a ‘subjective’ human rights element to the test, but there is thought to be little appetite for such. Any Saudi-backed takeovers will require the same assurances that Newcastle United had to provide, that being that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would not be the owner of the club.

 

SAUDI ARABIAN GOVERNMENT SPEAK OUT ON POTENTIAL DEAL

 

The sports minister of Saudi Arabia has stated that the Saudi Arabian government would “definitely support” private sector bids for Liverpool and Manchester United.

 

Speaking to BBC Sport, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal said that there was a lot of “interest and appetite” in the two clubs, both of which have seen their owners open themselves up to either part investment or a full sale over the past two weeks.

 

Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group expanded their search for investment through an equity sale to a willingness to listen to offers for the club a fortnight ago. It was a move followed by the Glazer family at United on Tuesday.

 

Numerous potential bidders have been linked with Liverpool over the past fortnight, from US private equity firms to Indian billionaires, although no firm proposals are believed to have been presented to FSG, for whom Mike Gordon is acting as the lead on sourcing investment and managing an interest in a full takeover.

 

“From the private sector, I can’t speak on their behalf, but there is a lot of interest and appetite and there’s a lot of passion about football,” said Al Faisal.

 

“It’s the most-watched league in Saudi and the region and you have a lot of fans of the Premier League. We will definitely support it if any [Saudi] private sector comes in, because we know that’s going to reflect positively on sports within the kingdom.

 

“But if there’s an investor willing to do so and the numbers add up, why not?”

 

JULIAN WARD SHOCK DEPARTURE THE LATEST IN SEVERAL CHANGES

 

Julian Ward will leave his role as Liverpool sporting director at the end of the season – with the Reds considering an overhaul of their transfer operations.

 

Ward has taken the shock decision having only succeeded Michael Edwards in the key position last summer after spending 18 months as his assistant. It is understood Liverpool are surprised and disappointed at Ward signalling his intention to quit, but are mindful they have been informed with sufficient time to determine a possible successor.

 

The decision of Ward to quit represents the latest significant change behind the scenes at Liverpool. Owners Fenway Sports Group confirmed earlier this month they are exploring a possible sale of the club, with Mike Gordon taking a step back from the day-to-day running of the club and Liverpool CEO Billy Hogan assuming increased responsibilities.

 

And Liverpool will now use Ward’s imminent exit as an opportunity to consider which model will be the most effective in supporting the future football operations – including transfers – at the club. Jurgen Klopp, who signed a new deal in April to extend his Reds commitment to 2026, will be part of the process, with Hogan also involved.

 

MANCHESTER UNITED SALE OFFERS CHALLENGE TO POTENTIAL LIVERPOOL DEAL

 

Potential buyers of Liverpool could be lured to Manchester United instead, because of their huge global fanbase, according to The Times.

 

Liverpool are used to going head-to-head with their East Lancs rivals, but on this occasion the action is happening off the pitch, with English football’s two most successful clubs both looking to attract billionaires to invest in them or buy them outright.

 

United owners the Glazers announced on Tuesday that they were open to investment or even a complete sale, just two weeks after Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, declared their intention to do exactly the same.

 

The Merseyside Reds have enjoyed more success on the pitch than their Manchester counterparts in recent seasons, but after three decades of unrelenting success, United can boast huge global appeal, making the asset sale race an intriguing one. The Red Devils claim to have 1.1billion fans across the world.

 

The Glazers are believed to be looking for anywhere between £6-8billion to let go off their Premier League asset, dwarfing the reported £4billion FSG are asking to pass on ownership of Liverpool.

 

The issue for both clubs is that they will likely be marketing their offering to the same mega-rich suitors. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a United fan, is one name in the mix who has already ruled out a move for Liverpool, but tech giants Amazon and Meta have already been linked with the Red Devils.

 

The Times report suggests that Liverpool’s Manchester rivals could be more likely to sell to non-American groups, such as representatives from the Middle East. It also accepts that the Glazers’ move to sell has been prompted not only by the failure of the doomed European Super League but also by FSG’s decision to cash in their chips on Liverpool now.

 

SIR JIM RATCLIFFE TO LAUNCH TAKEOVER ‘BID’ AFTER CONFIRMING LIVERPOOL DECISION

 

Sir Jim Ratcliffe will reportedly bid to buy Manchester United after the Glazers formally put the club up for sale.

 

That’s according to the Independent, who are reporting that Ratcliffe, a Manchester United fan, is ready to launch a bid to buy the Old Trafford club – although he is keen not to pay over the odds. The Glazer family will reportedly seek buyers prepared to pay between £6billion and £8billion.

 

On the day that the club cancelled Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract, the Glazers released a statement saying that they were trying to find new investment, either to acquire a share of the club, or buy it outright, which would end their 17-year ownership.

 

It was also confirmed that United have appointed the Raine Group, an American bank that found a buyer for Chelsea this year, to be United’s advisers and another bank, Rothschild and Co, who will advise the Glazer family.

 

Read the full story HERE.

 

MANCHESTER UNITED ANNOUNCEMENT SENDS SHOCKWAVE TO FSG OVER LIVERPOOL SALE PLAN

 

When Chelsea were put up for sale earlier this year as a result of sanctions placed upon former owner Roman Abramovich it kick started a bidding war the likes of which English football had never seen before.

 

Teams in the so-called ‘big six’ of the Premier League hit the market very rarely. The tenure of ownership among Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur before the Todd Boely-led consortia acquired the Stamford Bridge club stood at a cumulative 97 years, an average length of ownership across those teams of 16 years.

 

The sale of Chelsea to Boehly, Clearlake Capital and Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss closed at around £2.5bn, with a further £1.75bn committed to funding infrastructure development projects at the club. That deal was finalised in May, bringing an end to 19 years of Abramovich’s spell in London, an era that changed the landscape of the English game forever.

 

It is a little over a fortnight since Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group were revealed to have opened themselves up to offers to take the club off their hands. While the initial stance, confirmed by well placed sources in the US to the ECHO, is one that is more open to continuing as custodians of the football club and selling an equity stake, the fact that the owners would be willing to sell the club shows how buoyant they feel the market is, with sports proving a remarkably resilient asset class despite the macro-economic landscape at present.

 

On Tuesday evening it was revealed that Manchester United’s deeply unpopular owners, the Glazer family, who had acquired the club via a leveraged buyout back in 2005 and continued to plunge it further into debt while the club failed on the pitch and investment into infrastructure was not forthcoming, were also open to offers.

 

SIR JIM RATCLIFFE TO LAUNCH TAKEOVER ‘BID’ AFTER CONFIRMING LIVERPOOL DECISION

 

Sir Jim Ratcliffe will reportedly bid to buy Manchester United after the Glazers formally put the club up for sale.

 

That’s according to the Independent, who are reporting that Ratcliffe, a Manchester United fan, is ready to launch a bid to buy the Old Trafford club – although he is keen not to pay over the odds. The Glazer family will reportedly seek buyers prepared to pay between £6billion and £8billion.

 

On the day that the club cancelled Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract, the Glazers released a statement saying that they were trying to find new investment, either to acquire a share of the club, or buy it outright, which would end their 17-year ownership.

 

It was also confirmed that United have appointed the Raine Group, an American bank that found a buyer for Chelsea this year, to be United’s advisers and another bank, Rothschild and Co, who will advise the Glazer family.

 

MANCHESTER UNITED ANNOUNCEMENT SENDS SHOCKWAVE TO FSG OVER LIVERPOOL SALE PLAN

 

When Chelsea were put up for sale earlier this year as a result of sanctions placed upon former owner Roman Abramovich it kick started a bidding war the likes of which English football had never seen before.

 

Teams in the so-called ‘big six’ of the Premier League hit the market very rarely. The tenure of ownership among Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur before the Todd Boely-led consortia acquired the Stamford Bridge club stood at a cumulative 97 years, an average length of ownership across those teams of 16 years.

 

The sale of Chelsea to Boehly, Clearlake Capital and Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss closed at around £2.5bn, with a further £1.75bn committed to funding infrastructure development projects at the club. That deal was finalised in May, bringing an end to 19 years of Abramovich’s spell in London, an era that changed the landscape of the English game forever.

 

It is a little over a fortnight since Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group were revealed to have opened themselves up to offers to take the club off their hands. While the initial stance, confirmed by well placed sources in the US to the ECHO, is one that is more open to continuing as custodians of the football club and selling an equity stake, the fact that the owners would be willing to sell the club shows how buoyant they feel the market is, with sports proving a remarkably resilient asset class despite the macro-economic landscape at present.

 

On Tuesday evening it was revealed that Manchester United’s deeply unpopular owners, the Glazer family, who had acquired the club via a leveraged buyout back in 2005 and continued to plunge it further into debt while the club failed on the pitch and investment into infrastructure was not forthcoming, were also open to offers.

Like FSG, United’s owners are open to both offers of an equity sale or a full takeover, but it is understood that they are leaning towards the latter given the major need for them to raise funds for a crucial redevelopment of a dilapidated Old Trafford and the continued financing of the club in the transfer market to try and return it to former glories that have been absent since Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager back in 2013.

 

Read the full story from Dave Powell, our Business of Football writer, HERE.

 

INSIDE STORY OF FSG PLAN

 

The ECHO has learned that senior figures at Anfield were stunned when the news of a willingness to sell was made public on November 7. It is thought that FSG had hoped to quietly explore their options before it was reported by The Athletic that the owners were searching not only for external investment but also for the possibility of an outright buyer.

 

It’s been suggested the quiet attempts to survey the landscape was done so without explicit knowledge of some executive-level Liverpool employees in a move that bore a resemblance to the European Super League debacle that was foisted upon those inside the club itself in April 2021.

 

There is also a feeling that now is the right time to capitalise from the owners’ perspective. Anfield will play host to regular crowds of 61,000 from next season, while the AXA Training Centre – a £50m facility that Liverpool believe rivals any other in Europe – is barely two years old and the club have won every top-level trophy available to them since June 2019.

 

FSG will know that valuations are likely to continue to rise and by selling Liverpool now they would be leaving a considerable amount of money on the table. That’s why one prospect that is being given consideration is the potential for someone to acquire the club on a piecemeal basis, raising capital for FSG via a stake sale that may allow them to either free up funds to aid the very pressing need to address their requirements in the transfer market, or potentially to see them cash out a portion of their shareholding for growth prospects elsewhere. That, over time, would allow for someone else to acquire the club bit by bit and also allow for FSG to realise the financial benefits of continued rising values.

 

 

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