Photo via Reuters
Premier soccer team, Liverpool, is rumored to be up for sale by its owners, Fenway Sports Group (FSG). This comes just months after Liverpool’s league rival, Chelsea, was sold in a deal worth $3 billion. According to anonymous sources with direct knowledge of the team’s plans, Fenway Sports Group has hired Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to explore a sale of the storied Premier League franchise. The inquiry by Fenway Sports Group comes at a good time because the sale of Chelsea reset the market for the world’s largest soccer teams.
The potential sale would come over a decade after Fenway Sports Group acquired the soccer juggernaut in 2010. The acquisition of Liverpool was for $400 million and occurred through a forced sale by its lenders as the team was nearing bankruptcy. Forbes current valuation for the club is 4.45 billion, which is about ten times what FSG acquired it for. On average this would be considered a high level return for a venture capital fund.
The team is asked regularly about Fenway Sports Group’s ownership. When the rumor of a potential sale came to light, Liverpool responded by saying, “FSG has frequently received expressions of interest from third parties seeking to become shareholders in Liverpool.” Comments of the like along with the FSG’s hiring on the investment banks have created extreme speculation on ownership’s intentions.
Fenway Sports Group is a global sports marketing, media, entertainment and real estate portfolio comprised of investors led by John Henry. Since 2001, FSG has acquired the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park, 80% of New England Sports Network (NESN), Liverpool Football Club, 50% of NASCAR’s Roush Fenway Racing, sports marketing and consulting firm Fenway Sports Management, and a real estate division, Fenway Sports Group Real Estate, that oversees the assets, acquisitions and development of FSG’s properties. The group has grown significantly since its inception in 2001 and can be considered one of the biggest players in the sports investment space.
Although the economy is down the market for sports franchises remains bullish, as seen by recent sales of the Denver Broncos for $4.65 billion, Chelsea for $3 billion, AC Milan for $1.2 billion. Fenway Sports Group will work closely with these investment banks to forecast the outlook on their investment of Liverpool, but given recent market trends now seems like a good time to shop the team. Along with these acquisitions setting a benchmark for a potential sale, Liverpool is more popular than all three of these franchises and could likely reset the market once again. All things considered, the stars seem to be aligning for Fenway Sports Group to cash in on a huge payday.