COMMENTARY: John W Henry fishes out Liverpool’s true value as he looks to sell a small stake in the club. It was a tactic employed by Man City in 2019 and will help the Anfield owner get their hands on more money to compete with their rivals.
- Fenway Sports Group announced last year that it was seeking investment
- It was thought they would also consider outright bids for Liverpool
- John W. Henry has denied claims they will sell – but are looking for investors
John W. Henry’s comments to a Boston newspaper that he is talking to investors but has no desire to sell Liverpool has left many fans scratching their heads.
What exactly is the American billionaire up to?
“Are we selling Liverpool Football Club? No. Are we talking to investors about Liverpool Football Club? Yes. Will anything happen there? I think so, but there won’t be a sale,” he told the Boston Sports Journal.
The most likely scenario, according to investment bankers, is that Henry wants to know how much Liverpool are worth. The simplest way to do this is to sell a small stake in the club. By offloading, say, a five per cent holding on Henry he can then work out what the whole club is worth.
This is an old trick and was last pulled by Manchester City in 2019, when 10 per cent of the club was sold to US private equity technology giant Silver Lake for $500m (£415m), valuing the entire group at almost 5 billion dollars. Get a lot of confused faces as City didn’t need the money and Silver Lake had never invested in sports. But City executives wanted a valuation more than 10 years after they bought the club in September 2008 for £210m.
John W. Henry (right) is likely to be fishing for a clear valuation of Liverpool as he looks for investors
Henry’s Fenway Sports Group bought Liverpool for £300m in 2010 and is now looking for minority investors
Liverpool have been hugely successful in the years since FSG bought the club
Likewise, Henry must know how much value Liverpool are worth since Fenway Sports Group bought the club for £300m in 2010.
Knowing the value of the club, Henry can refinance loans, find additional sources of investment — essentially the Liverpool owner can get more money in his hands. This is vital if Liverpool are to continue their Anfield rebuild or compete with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City in the transfer market.
No doubt, however, Henry will also have watched the sales process at arch-rivals Manchester United, who have received blockbuster offers from British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank.
Are Henry’s latest comments laced with a touch of jealousy that he has not shown the same level of interest as the Reds have failed to attract interest from the Middle East?