October 15th, 2010. Liverpool were “seconds away” from an impending administration, as told by former managing director Ian Ayre, before Fenway Sports Group (FSG), armed by John W Henry and Thomas Werner, bought the club for £300m and effectively rescued the club from a possible liquidation.
Beforehand, the club was being run into the ground by former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who borrowed £218.9m from the Royal Bank of Scotland to secure the sale and did not put a penny of their own into the football club.
Without getting into the complications, FSG do not get the credit they deserve and the amount of their own money they’ve placed into the club is eye-watering. The financial position that the Reds currently stand is a significantly healthier position prior to their multimillion pound purchase of one of the biggest football clubs in the world.
The FSG takeover in 2010 helped Liverpool avoid administration and was the catalyst for restoration of the club and over the years it has been resurrected from the depths of financial concern back into a European powerhouse, on the basis of substance as opposed to image.
There are still many who do not support the backing of FSG, especially across social media, accusing the owners of not spending enough money and without thinking about the bigger picture. Whether the anti-FSG brigade like it or not, football clubs are essentially businesses. They are required to nurture as such, and that’s exactly what they’ve done.
FSG have cut Liverpool’s debts by 75%, according to Tifo Football, and are making almost twice as much as they were in 2010, meaning more money for new players to come through the door.
On the subject of players, fans’ frustrations with the owners is justified. The continuous sale of the club’s top players such as Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres and Raheem Sterling has rubbed supporters up the wrong way and rightly so. Patience with Liverpool fans has become shorter with money in the game becoming more and more inflated.
Not only has the sale of the club’s most valuable assets been an ongoing issue, but the lack of success on the football pitch will always highlight and conclude the overall summary of FSG’s ownership. One League Cup in seven years is, quite frankly, not good enough for Liverpool. The heavily reported average net spend on the playing squad has been significantly less than the Reds' closest rivals.
With every pro, there’s a con. Are they great owners? No. Have they made mistakes? Yes. They didn’t truly understand football, they've learnt on the job and that is not the best impression to give, taking charge of a football club in a city where the sport is injected into the lifeblood of the locals. From generation to generation, it operates like a passing down of a valuable gift from a grandfather to a grandson.
It’s amazing what a European run can do though, fans were left in fury when Liverpool didn’t spend the Coutinho immediately after he agreed to move to Barcelona for £140m. It enraged many, and rightly so. The bloom of Mohamed Salah, the hardcore Samba from Roberto Firmino and the flair of Sadio Mane, all FSG purchases, soon made fans forget about the owners and enjoy the performances on the pitch.
Despite losing the Champions League final to Real Madrid, a lot of optimism and faith has been placed back into the playing squad and Jurgen Klopp, which will galvanise them going into the new campaign.
Looking at the position Liverpool were in back in 2010 right up to this present day, the owners have expanded the stadium to 54,000, significantly improved the playing squad, excited the fans once again and, so far, spent the Coutinho money wisely. Signings have made in key areas of the pitch while they have kept hold of the club’s most valuable individuals. FSG’s mission isn’t complete, Liverpool still lack success in terms of trophies. Almost there, John.