JUST over 18 months ago all Liverpool supporters were eternally grateful that John Henry and Fenway Sports Group recognized the true potential of Liverpool and rescued the club from the clutches of Hick’s & Gillett and imminent administration.
You all know the parallels they saw between the Boston Red Socks and Liverpool and since taking over Boston in 2002 they have won baseballs biggest prize, the World Series, twice, the first time since 1918!
Thankfully Liverpool’s lack of success doesn’t go that far back but their failure to win the Premier League since 1990 sometimes has us feeling that way.
From the outset it was clear that FSG’s commitment was to get Liverpool back to winning ways which in turn would further increase the value of the club they had bought in terms of sponsorship opportunities, merchandise sales, lucrative competitions such as the Champions League and television revenues. The objectives were simple: make Liverpool a dominant force in English and European football once more.
So just how well have the new owners done since October 2010? Let’s start with the financial side of things. FSG paid £300m to purchase Liverpool, effectively clearing the clubs debt. They went on to invest a further £100m+ on new players starting in January 2011. They received £50m from the sale of Torres to offset the cost but the willingness and desire to invest was clear. A heavy commitment in anyone’s book. They’ve also continued to weigh up the options of either developing Anfield or building a new stadium on the edge of Stanley Park. Again another huge financial commitment that Ian Ayre announced this week was close to being finalized. John Henry said doesn’t want to destroy the atmosphere of Anfield so it looks like redeveloping Anfield is the preferred choice. So, on the financial front the verdict has to be they have been first-class owners.
What about FSG’s strategy for the club? Some seem to be arguing that they need to lay out a plan for the club, especially now that the search for a replacement for Kenny has been underway for over a week. The reality is we want them do things the “Liverpool Way” and it seems that’s exactly what they are doing by not talking to the media until they have something positive to announce and going about their business privately and behind closed doors. They are in the process of seeking out some of the top professionals in the business to replace Comolli as Director of Football and have been casting the net far and wide in the search of a new a manager. I’m certain there have been discussions with candidates we know nothing about so isn’t it better to wait on who they select before passing judgement?
“It’s time to support the owners because they want to return Liverpool to a team that competes for the biggest trophies. It’s not necessary for fans to know the inner workings of any football club because we don’t know the inner workings of any business. I’m sure in the next week or two or three, it will become more apparent how we intend to move forward when a new manager is unveiled. I understand fans’ frustrations but if everyone is giving 100% then you need to be patient.”
FSG want success for Liverpool and they have made their intent clear in the level of money they have invested in the club and the calibre of new managerial candidates they are considering. Have they done a good job so far in the short time they have owned the club? I’ll let you decide but isn’t it a different, better, world that we are now only debating the team and its performance versus the ownership fears we all had only a short time ago.
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