Early on Monday morning, there were strange rumors doing the rounds in the British press that the owners of English Premier League side Liverpool were potentially ready to listen to offers and ultimately sell up. John W. Henry and Thomas C. Werner are the founders of Fenway Sports Group and, in the United States, are best known for their ownership of the Boston Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Penguins, to name two of the franchises under their control.
They first took ownership of the Red Sox in 2002 as the Yawkey Trust sold after experiencing one of the longest droughts in baseball history. It was unaffectionately known by many as the ‘Curse of the Bambino’ as it was alleged the drought began when the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to major rivals, the New York Yankees. The company took the ballpark’s name, Fenway Park, and ended an 86-year wait for their sixth World Series in 2004. FSG have gone on to have great success with the franchise and eventually branched out to other sports, including Liverpool, where they have again tasted pretty decent success given the dominance of Manchester City in the English game.
Recent Premier League Woes
However, having lost the Premier League by a single point and then failed to clinch the Champions League Trophy (despite picking up both domestic Cups), they have had an incredibly poor start to life in the 2022/23 campaign, and they sit lowly in eighth place in the table. Liverpool has stumbled to five wins from their 13 opening games, as per New York Bet.
Two of their four defeats were incredibly embarrassing affairs against strugglers Leeds United and newly promoted Championship side Nottingham Forest.
A Series of Mistakes
This season is becoming a testament to the mistakes made within the sport and potentially a big misunderstanding of the far more tribal English game. Back in 2019, FSG attempted to trademark the name Liverpool, and the Spirit of Shankly group campaigned against the attempt citing that the name ‘belongs to the city of Liverpool and its people, as opposed to a corporation.
Some lessons were not learned.
In 2021, John Henry and other senior figures within the club had to apologize to fans for their failed and widely hated attempt to be a founding member of the European Super League. This league would be a football/soccer variant of the NFL franchise model, creating a closed league with no promotion or relegation for the bigger and richer European clubs.
These mishaps led many fans to believe that FSG, on top of a season so far of struggle, had had enough. As Monday progressed, the club clarified that it was not interested in a full sale. They were inviting offers because they ‘would consider new shareholders. Furthermore, they remained fully committed to the success of Liverpool, both on and off the pitch.
“There have been a number of recent changes of ownership and rumors of changes in ownership at Premier League 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.”
With the club still looking to close the gap and more regularly challenge Pep Guardiola’s big-spending City side, new investors to help spread the risk and potentially new ideas could make all the difference to their future success.
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