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Liverpool’s ‘exit plan’ for FSG becomes clear as Sir Martin Broughton reveals investor talks



Liverpool's takeover promise was an empty promise – FSG's true intentions are now clear

Your Liverpool morning summary as ‘exit plan’ for FSG becomes clear, plus Ian Doyle and Paul Gorst interview Sir Martin Broughton

Sir Martin Broughton reveals conversations with billionaire investors

Sir Martin Broughton has revealed that he has spoken to members of a consortium of billionaires about possible investments in Liverpool.

But the former British Airways chairman admits London is generally seen as a more viable option for those looking to invest in Premier League clubs, despite being open to offers for a partial or full sale to Anfield.

Last year, Broughton, whose brief spell as Liverpool chairman in 2010 helped remove Tom Hicks and George Gillett as owners, led a syndicate that was in the running to buy Chelsea before being bought by the Liverpool-owned company. Todd. .

It was revealed in November that FSG, which has owned Liverpool since October 2010, is willing to listen to what is being offered and has instructed two major US banks, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, to see what offers might be on the table. , made a sales presentation for the seriously interested.

When Broughton, who returned to Anfield on Monday night to watch Liverpool beat Everton 2-0, planned to win over Chelsea last summer, he did so with a consortium that included the former London 2012 Olympics boss, Lord Sebastian Coe, and the US investment firm Harris. Blitzer Sports and Entertainment (HBSE), which owns sports teams such as the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, whose co-founders Josh Harris and David Blitzer each own an 18 percent stake in Crystal Palace. In New York in October, where Blitzer was asked about his role in Chelsea’s bid with Broughton and whether or not it was something he would pursue in the future, the 53-year-old singled out Chelsea as “one of the few selected clubs”. .” on a global scale”, with the duo “comfortable” at the time bidding on Stamford Bridge Club.

HBSE have been linked as an interested party to both Liverpool and Manchester United, with US sources saying the New Jersey-based company is weighing its options, although any interest in either is almost certainly related to the prospect of a minority stake.

And Broughton admits pitching the idea of ​​investing in Liverpool to a consortium during an exclusive chat with in support of the release of his new book Whenever I Hear That Song, although Harris and Blitzer weren’t approached when he tried to generate interest. among the Reds.

Broughton said: “I haven’t spoken to Josh Harris and David Blitzer since their return to Crystal Palace, but I have spoken to the other people in our consortium and at Chelsea who I have spoken to if there is any interest in having him become a co-investor, not to acquire, but to become a co-investor.

“But they are already foreign billionaires with a block in Knightsbridge, Chelsea or Kensington, and they used to come to London quite regularly, and when they came to London to see Chelsea. “So they’re all Chelsea fans and not in the 68-year-old way of going there to see them like I am, but that’s their team and they enjoy going there. They were attracted to the idea of ​​investing in a football club.” and Chelsea in particular.

“When I approached them about Liverpool – and I didn’t contact them about Manchester United, I would never have approached them about Manchester United – but the outcome would have been the same. [They would say] ‘well I have a block’ in London.’ So he’s not the type of person who will really come to Liverpool.

“So I wasn’t excited enough to start looking for investors, new investors again. I think if anyone wanted my support in this area I would be willing to consider it but not active.

in some games and they are actively involved. Mike Gordon was here more full time. You can make it work. Maybe [they bought Liverpool] because John had no quarter in London!”

As part of the Boston-based group’s effort to assess the market, Gordon, who was previously the most active ownership group at Anfield, has stepped back from day-to-day duties on Merseyside to see what deals might be profitable as a FSG. advance. “I don’t know Mike particularly well,” added Broughton. “He wasn’t part of the team negotiating the buy. He became an investor in New England Sports Ventures, but there was a smaller team negotiating for Liverpool.

“I didn’t know him from the start but he came at a later stage. I’ve met him a few times and don’t know him well but everything I hear is first class. I have no reason to think otherwise and he did a great job.

Report: FSG's true intentions are now emerging as Liverpool's latest reports speak for themselves

“From the very beginning, he was the one who wanted to come to Fenway as someone who could get actively involved and become a serious investor in Liverpool. And FSG has got other investors involved in their business, so somehow, they have sort of – Tom and John – some of their value created and realized by bringing other people to FSG level rather than Liverpool level and you know some of those guys may step up at some point with more direct investment in Liverpool.

Also part of Broughton’s consortium for Chelsea, in addition to HBSE and Lord Coe, was Indian entrepreneur and Sacramento Kings NBA team owner Vivek Ranadive, as well as the person who recommended Mr Broughton for his role at Anfield , Wall Street financier Michael Klein, a man well known to FSG for his work on the Reds takeover in 2010.

HBSE is believed to remain interested in investment opportunities with both Liverpool and Manchester United, and they also have a relationship with institutional investors Arctos Sports Partners, a private equity firm which holds stakes in multiple US sports teams and is a partner of the owners of Liverpool FSG since 2021.

Sources close to FSG’s US sale process told The Reds that the Reds’ owners would like to bring on board a partner who could potentially increase their interest in full ownership over time.

FSG ‘exit plan’ clear as truth comes to light about Qatar ‘talks’ over Liverpool sale

This week marked the 100-day mark for Liverpool since it was first revealed the club’s owners were ready to listen to offers, writes Dave Powell.

The Athletic broke the news Nov. 7 that Fenway Sports Group had put together a sales pitch for all interested parties and was ready to hear expressions of interest in a full and partial sale of the football club it has owned since 2010. .

Further details emerged in the following days, including that Mike Gordon, the most active member of the FSG at Liverpool and a key ally of manager Jurgen Klopp, had passed the torch in terms of day-to-day responsibilities to the Reds’ CEO. Billy Hogan. while Gordon led the search for in-house investment or a full sale, with US investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley facilitating the process. Since then, there has been a tidal wave of rumors online about who could play for the club. From private equity to sovereign wealth funds, those with deep pockets have been linked with a potential move for the club.

Report: FSG's true intentions are now emerging as Liverpool's latest reports speak for themselves

The rumour, which got a lot of traction online, was that of a Qatari interest. It came from a sane place as Qatar, after hosting the 2022 World Cup in December, sought to strengthen its position in the spotlight through investments in sport, investments that would provide the gateway for diversify sources of income away from oil and gas.

The government’s granting of free port status to Manchester and Liverpool, where tax exemptions make it more attractive to foreign investment, made it even more attractive as the Gulf countries had explored their own port strategies to support international trade. Interest from Qatar crystallized last week, but it was a Manchester United move that was looming. This decision to acquire the Glazers club, which has not yet been the subject of a formal offer, with the flexible deadline of this Friday, was supported by the Qatar Investment Authority but was to be led by a consortium private and operated by investors. This has opened the door to suggestions that another Qatari offer could arrive for Liverpool, but such a big deal and investment as the purchase of a football club undoubtedly needs the blessing of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, a Manchester United fan and with a unified. approaching the most likely course of action for Qatar given their geopolitical ambitions and the rather self-defeating potential of having a rival asset, a move was never likely for Liverpool.

Social media heated up with the Qatari rumours, but well-placed sources in the US with intimate knowledge of the situation maintained the line to that if there was any private interest in Liverpool, no offer or expression. No formal statement of interest had been made to FSG, which required high-level discussions and no discussion took place with the QIA. QIA bosses claim to be in Liverpool to meet Reds owner John W. Henry was wrong too.

Liverpool's takeover promise was an empty promise – FSG's true intentions are now clear

Reports of big guests at Anfield ahead of Monday’s Everton clash were also not good. Former chairman Sir Martin Broughton, who had tried to assemble a consortium to invest last year before abandoning the idea, was in attendance, something planned as he was promoting his new book. Hollywood comedian Will Ferrell was the most talked about guest, taking pictures with Reds players and attending the game. A Nike delegation was also reportedly present in connection with the collaboration with LeBron James on the club’s new clothing line. Other rumors of RedBird Capital’s presence were also false, with RedBird’s managers in Italy since Monday morning before Tuesday night’s Champions League win against Tottenham Hotspur.

RedBird is said to be interested in increasing its stake in FSG as the New York-based company acquired 11% of Liverpool’s owners for $750m in March 2021. FSG going forward, they will not currently be part of the quest of investments in Liverpool, their focus is on AC Milan, which they acquired in September for £1.1bn.

There have been no concrete offers for Liverpool or high-level talks as of now, no serious expressions of interest. The fact right now is that there is little urgency for FSG and the market conditions that existed when they first decided to test the water have changed, and for the type of partner they want, a partner they can work that could support the growth of companies and help them unlock latent value, potentially increasing their interest over time to full interest, are holding fire right now. Three factors led FSG to open for investment or sale in November.

The first was that Chelsea were sold last year at a high price well above what many believed to be a valuation. Among US investors polled by  the prevailing view is that new owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital have paid a premium for the London club above market value.