2017 hasn’t been a good year for Liverpool Football Club. It has, in fact, been a straight plummet down the table and out of every cup contest. So it’s understandable that some fans have become frustrated with the players, Klopp, and FSG as January’s misery destroyed all of the team’s good work in the first half of the season.
However, the fervor is ridiculous in some quarters over publicly available emails sent by John W Henry from the summer 2010 when New England Sports Ventures (soon renamed Fenway Sports Group) were considering purchasing Liverpool Football Club. The problem appears to be that the future owners were interested in buying the club cheap in order to make it profitable down the line — instead of out of some great love for Liverpool, the club, or its storied history.
Or, to quote the emails themselves, “That is the concept of acquiring a top global brand at a discount price and ensuring it is well managed. I am interested now in trying to ascertain if this is indeed a major opportunity that would indeed diversify and strengthen NESV.”
This...sounds like businessmen reasonably discussing the merits of spending a lot of money. It also proves that the intention, all along, was to manage the club so that it became more profitable in the future. That’s why people buy sports teams.
Ecclectic billionaires and fan-owned clubs aside, sports is a business, and the more the team wins, the bigger its visibility, the more money it makes. Would it have been preferable for NESV — a wealthy company, but not one with bottomless pockets — to have instead jumped in without conducting their due diligence? How well would that bode for their finances, and therefore the club’s finances, in the future?
Would saying that they hoped to strengthen the organization through proper management and maintenance in order to boost its marketability have sounded better if he ended the email with “YNWA”?
At only £300m, the deal struck was absolutely, as Henry claimed, a “steal” — despite investment in the Main Stand as well as purchasing new players. To be angry at a businessman for delighting in purchasing something at low cost that had a high room for growth must certainly be the way to madness. What else do you spend your time agonizing over? Football players selfishly enjoying scoring goals? Children and how much they love candy?
Think of it another way: investor after investor turned down the club because of the stadium issue, but NESV were the ones to recognize that the benefits would far outweigh the costs if they managed the club correctly. They could see how far behind European football was in terms of sponsorship and merchandising when compared to the American sports leagues that they were used to dealing with, and knew that there was untapped potential there.
So far, the results on the pitch haven’t matched their ambitions, and it’s fair to say that they didn’t quite understand what they were signing up for. But despite the learning curve, they continue to persist in their promise to try and do what’s best for the club.
Are they doing this out of selfish reasons and not because of some great Scouse love affair? Yes, probably. Does it matter why? No, not really.