A football finance expert claims a deal between Liverpool and Chinese investors is 'highly likely' at some point, despite China Everbright Limited refuting reports that they were set to launch a £800m takeover of the club.
Kieran Maguire, a lecturer in Economics, Finance and Accounting at the University of Liverpool's School of Management, says the increased interest in Liverpool from China makes sense from a business point of view and believes it is only a matter of time before they are sold to one of the world's most lucrative markets.
"Liverpool is one of the most recognised football brands in the world, and even though it has not won very much in recent years its fame continues. Liverpool FC could well see the advantage of a minority stake from China as it would open the door to one of the world's biggest growing markets for the club.
Chinese state-backed investment vehicle make Liverpool takeover approach - bid values club at £800m pic.twitter.com/oinSfTi124— Jonathan Northcroft (@JNorthcroft) August 20, 2016
"Taking stakes or ownership of big world clubs, not just in England, can only enhance their chances.
"The rapidly growing Chinese economy is also providing more opportunities for organisations or consortiums to invest in football. As somebody who specialises in football finance, I see it as a clearly overpriced business.
"There are other advantages, such as positive exposure to a world audience. Money is available in China to buy clubs, or take a stake. You only have to look at the 13 percent minority stake the Chinese took in Manchester City for around 400 million U.S.dollars to realise the potential."
Maguire believes that the Fenway Group may look to sell Liverpool at some point in the near future due to the price tag significantly increasing from the time they bought it for £300m.
"The Fenway Group bought Liverpool for 300 million pounds, (400 million U.S.dollars) and now the club is worth around 700 million pounds (926 million U.S.dollars). Although the club is said it is not up for sale, it could well sell if the price tag as around 900 million pounds (1.19 billion U.S.dollars). But even if a minority stake was sold to a Chinese consortium, its American owners would have got back much of what they paid for a small slice of the club. Spreading the Liverpool brand in China would increase its revenue, so it would be a win-win for the Fenway Group.
"England's Premier League signed a television rights deal worth around eight billion pounds (10.6 billion U.S.dollars), and there is no sign of such vast amounts slowing down. Imagine the income that could be generated by selling viewing rights to a Chinese audience? Just as critical is the fact that currently China has few registered footballers. If the country want's to be successful on the world stage it must address this.