What role have FSG played in Liverpool’s success?

The focus on Liverpool’s ownership centres around the possibility of new owners, with talks of Arab Investment circling the club in recent weeks. There’s good reason for this – the current conditions at the club are largely due to ownership, but the impact of the current owners is much more positive than recency bias has allowed fans to remember.

Liverpool Football Club has experienced a resurgence in recent years, becoming one of the most successful teams in Europe. Behind this success is the role played by the club’s ownership, Fenway Sports Group (FSG).

FSG, led by John W. Henry and Tom Werner, acquired Liverpool in 2010, with the goal of returning the club to its former glory. Since then, the ownership group has made several key decisions that have played a significant role in the team’s success.

Klopp’s Appointment

One of the most notable decisions made by FSG was the appointment of Jurgen Klopp as manager in 2015. Klopp, who had previously led Borussia Dortmund to two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League final, was tasked with turning Liverpool into a title-winning team. Under his leadership, the team has since won the UEFA Champions League, the Premier League, the FIFA Club World Cup, the FA Cup, The Carabao Cup, the Community Shield and the UEFA Super Cup.

Investment

FSG have also made significant investments in the team’s infrastructure and facilities. The club’s training ground, Melwood, was completely abandoned, and a new state-of-the-art training facility was built. The owners also invested in the club’s youth academy, which has produced a number of talented players for the first team.

Another important decision made by FSG was to focus on financial stability. The owners have implemented a sustainable business model, which has helped the club to become financially stable and allowed for strategic investments in the team. This has also helped the club to be more competitive in the transfer market, signing some of the best players in the world.

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FSG has also been keen on expanding the fanbase of the club by building the club’s global brand and making sure that the clubs matches are accessible to fans all over the world. This has helped the club to increase its revenue through merchandising and broadcasting rights.

Although FSG have made these investments into the clubs infrastructure, many argue that the money the have put into the playing staff has been lacklustre. With only £500 million spent in the last10 years, the lack of investment in this specific area is beginning to show.

Mistakes

Although FSG have made substantial investments into the clubs infrastructure, many argue that the money put into the playing staff has been lacklustre. With £500 million spent in 10 years, the lack of recent investment in this specific area is beginning to show.

In 2016, FSG had to issue an apology after trying to raise the prices of tickets to £77. The fans showcased their displeasure in a game against Sunderland where they left the stadium after 77 minutes of play.

“On behalf of everyone at Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool Football Club, we would like to apologise for the distress caused by our ticket pricing plan for the 2016-17 season.”

Henry, Werner and President Mike Gordon commenting on the issue at the time

In 2019, FSG were once again forced to apologise after another damaging decision. The club put forth a proposition to the Intellectual Property Office to trademark the word ‘Liverpool’, which was swiftly dismissed due to the “geographical significance” of the city.

Over the past few years the fans have been outraged by FSG’s decisions throughout the global pandemic. First of all, FSG decided to put club staff onto the governments furlough scheme, which was met with mass displeasure. They announced this plan only six weeks after announcing a £42 million profit and a £533 million turnover in 2018/19. Quickly reverting on the decision, the owners put out a statement of apology after consulting key stakeholders.

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To make matters worse, FSG announced Liverpool as one of the founders of the disastrous ‘European Super League’ (ESL). Fans visited the stadium to make their disapproval known to the decision makers and Liverpool quickly withdrew their support of the ESL. Again this was followed by an apology, this time in the form of a video by John W. Henry himself.

Conclusion

The role of Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, in the club’s recent success cannot be overstated. From the appointment of Jurgen Klopp as manager, to the investments made in the team’s infrastructure and facilities, FSG’s decisions have played a crucial role in the team’s resurgence. The focus on financial stability and expanding the club’s global brand has also helped to make Liverpool one of the most successful teams in Europe.

Nevertheless, FSG’s decisions at times have come across as tone-deaf and completely out of touch with the working-class culture in the city of Liverpool. Apologies have come and gone, but they seem to repeat mistakes on a regular basis. Should FGS sell Liverpool, they will be remembered as the owners who oversaw Liverpool’s resurgence – though there were plenty of poor decisions along the way.