Liverpool owners, Fenway Sports Group, have hired American financial advisers, Allen & Co, to seek advice on the club’s possible sale following approach by a consortium led by Chinese investment firm Everbright and PCP Capital Partners. However, the club have maintained a stance that they are not for sale.
According to the Financial Times, Allen & Co, the New York-based boutique investment bank, has been roped in by FSG amid reports of Chinese interest in acquisition of a substantial stake at Liverpool, one of the most decorated English clubs. Tom Werner, Liverpool’s chairman, talked about the club not being up for sale but also confirmed that they are looking to sell a minority stake with a view to expand their commercial opportunities.
The size and valuation of any deal is unclear, but it is understood the interested parties are keen to buy a large stake at the club. The consortium is structured as a partnership between Chinese state-owned financial conglomerate Everbright and the private equity firm founded by Amanda Staveley, PCP Capital Partners. Their advisers are Silk Road Finance.
Chinese investment in the Premier League has increased with the advent of the league’s multi-billion pound television rights deal which has turned English football’s top flight into a lucrative investment destination. Earlier this month, West Bromwich Albion were taken over by 42-year-old Chinese businessman, Guochuan Lai. In December last year, China Media Capital and Citic Capital paid $400m for a 13% stake in City Football Group, the company that owns Manchester City.
However, Liverpool’s owners have denied any interest in selling up and are adamant that there have been no bids made and no ongoing discussions about the club’s sale. Speaking to Liverpool Echo, Werner reiterated FSG’s intentions of not selling the club. “We’ve said it before and I’d like to say it again: this club is not for sale.”
He added: “I’d say that from time to time somebody says they have made an offer to us but they are really saying that just for publicity.
“People throw offers to us which we don’t think are real. We haven’t had a discussion or a negotiation with anyone because this club is not for sale.
“If someone wants to write us a letter saying they want to buy the club then it will get put in the garbage.
“I don’t think that we could have made a long-term arrangement with [manager] Jurgen [Klopp] without an understanding on both sides about our future together.”
Liverpool recently offered manager Jurgen Klopp a new six-year contract after the former Borussia Dortmund manager impressed by guiding the Reds to two cup final appearances last season, albeit losing both. Klopp, who was installed in the Reds hot seat in October last year, has thus far made a significant impression on the club’s owners to earn a new deal.
Werner’s words conflict the emerging reports that FSG are seriously considering the Chinese approach, but those reports remain speculation as of now since none of FSG, Allen & Co and Ms Staveley have confirmed them.
Liverpool are the ninth richest club in world football according to Deloitte, and it would be a watershed moment for football in China if a deal is agreed. And it would most certainly accelerate Chinese president Xi Jinping’s vision to make China a footballing superpower.
Liverpool are heading into a new phase of evolution under FSG at a revamped Anfield which will open with the visit of Leicester City on 10th September. Anfield’s 54,167 capacity will make it the fifth largest Premier League ground.
The club have done shrewd business this transfer window with a net spend of about £5m, and any new injection of investment would surely allow the club to compete with the likes of the Manchester clubs and Chelsea in the market.