Following news that Liverpool's debt had increased by more than £22M in the club's latest reported financial period, there was a rush to figure out what it actually meant for the club. And perhaps not surprisingly, amongst both those of a more pessimistic and those of a more sensationalistic bent there was a rush to suggest that what it actually meant was that fans should prepare for the club's stars being sold.
Ian Ayre, though, was quick to shoot down any such notions, following up the initial release of the financial documents by further clarifying exactly what it all meant—or, perhaps more accurately, by clarifying exactly what it didn't mean.
"We won't be selling anyone because of the financial position," said Liverpool's managing director. "If we're selling anyone it'll be because they are deemed by the manager to be surplus to his requirements and obviously if that happens we will be replacing them and bringing new players in as we always do."
Given that Liverpool's rising debt comes from a shortened, ten-month financial period that includes no European football and pre-dates the current Warrior shirt deal as well as many of the further sponsorship deals the club is currently engaged in, the truth is that the numbers are at least temporarily inflated. This year's report, when it comes out next year, will almost certainly see improved finances.
The club's aggressive courting of sponsorship deals and foreign markets has at times appeared an ends rather than a means, but it only serves any purpose if it helps to bridge the gap while Liverpool work their way back to the Champions League. If, though, they never do work their way back—or if it takes an overly long time to do so—those sources of revenue begin to shrink.
At the same time, the club's value would decrease, undermining the investment Fenway Sports Group have so far made. All told, it's a situation where massive spending cuts and selling assets to balance the finances doesn't make a whole lot of sense. At least not if the owners want to protect the value of their investment or ever make it back into the Champions League—a pair of goals that in many ways go hand in hand.
"There's no panic on our part, far from it," continued Ayre. "We feel we are making progress. Our aspiration for the next couple of years, as the rules will dictate, is to break even and then to make a profit beyond that.
"The recent rules that we've adopted at the Premier League will expect people to break even and limit their spending and player wages. We've been a big advocate in pushing for that so we're certainly not going to fall foul of it."
The new sponsorship deals as well as the trimming of bloated wages of some of the more senior and less effective players on the club's books in recent years will help—though in the short term, the paying off of those players will also have negatively effected the latest reported financial period. Getting back into the top four, though, is the only thing that will make it sustainable and profitable in the longer term.
That makes a selling of the club's stars—the sale of Fenway Sports Group's assets—the last thing they will want to do, even if it suggests there may not be much hope of a massive spending spree over the summer. Most, though, never will have expected one. And so we come to exactly what impact the latest released finances will have on Liverpool's transfer dealings over at least the rest of 2013—in short, not a whole lot.
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