Could Liverpool be at the heart of a new global sporting empire?
Liverpool could consider a move to buy a European club if talks over a proposed huge financial investment with Moneyball mogul Billy Beane reach a successful conclusion, according to a report in The Times.
The Anfield club’s American parent company FSG have been in talks with investment group RedBall Acquisition for some time, with Beane and a billionaire American financier, Gerry Cardinale eager to build a sporting empire with Liverpool at it's heart.
Beane, who is famous for his Moneyball approach which revolutionised baseball in America, has a vision to build a new sporting group that would include baseball and soccer clubs, in a model that could replicate Manchester City's football network that stretches to clubs in America and Australia.
The Wall Street Journal reported last weekend that Beane was looking to acquire a 25-per-cent stake in the company that owns Liverpool Football Club and Boston Red Sox, in a deal that would value FSG at $8 billion and result in the company being listed on the stock market.
The prospect of investing in the group that controls the reigning Premier League champions, and the 2018 World Series baseball kings, would be highly attractive, with Beane’s emergence on the Liverpool landscape an intriguing development.
Brad Pitt portrayed the role of Beane in the 2011 movie Moneyball, which looked at Oakland Athletic’s success in baseball, using what were seen as revolutionary methods to assess potential players.
They used statistical analysis ahead of the opinion of sporting experts, as Oakland changed perceptions in US sport at the turn of this century.
FSG have followed that recruitment model at Liverpool, signing players that were not star names and transforming them into valuable assets.
John W Henry, FSG’s chief decision-maker, is a close friend of Beane, and the prospect of buying into Liverpool has been under discussion for some time.
The news comes after Beane and sports banker Gerry Cardinale disclosed last month that they had raised $575m in the hope of purchasing a professional sports franchise.
Now the duo’s RedBall Acquisition Corp acquisition company have set their sights of FSG’s crown jewels in a link-up that offers huge potential to take Liverpool to the next level.
The Anfield club has achieved great success operating a transfer policy that has seen the club claw back most of the money they invest in new stars with player sales, yet their owners have hinted they have been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis.
With an expensive new training ground complex nearly completion and Anfield undergoing development in recent years, FSG’s investment in player recruitment has been limited.
That was in evidence once more as Liverpool pulled out of a deal to sign Germany striker Timo Werner on financial grounds this summer.
While they did sign Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara and Portuguese forward Diogo Jota, those deals were funded by the sales of Dejan Lovren, Ki- Jana Hoever and Rhian Brewster.
Liverpool’s finances have also been bolstered by stunning success on the field, with their 2019 Champions League win helping to ensure revenue rose to £533m, up 79 per cent from when Klopp arrived in 2015. The club also pocketed an estimated £175m in prize money from their title win last season.