Why are FSG selling Liverpool?

Liverpool have been put up for sale by FSG
Liverpool have been put up for sale by FSG / Alex Livesey - The FA / Contributor / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox / Contributor | Getty Images

Fenway Sports Group's ownership of Liverpool Football Club has long caused division among the English side's fanbase.

While on-field success has materialised in recent years, a lack of investment in the playing squad has been highlighted by supporters, while their proposed involvement in a European Super League did little to win favour.

The Anfield giants are now set for a new future, however, with the news that FSG has put the club on the market for prospective buyers.

What's happened?

In a somewhat surprising move in November 2022, FSG released a statement confirming they are preparing to search for buyers for the club.

"There have been a number of recent changes of ownership and rumours of changes in ownership at EPL clubs and inevitably we are asked regularly about Fenway Sports Group’s ownership in Liverpool," a statement to The Athletic read.

"FSG has frequently received expressions of interest from third parties seeking to become shareholders in Liverpool. FSG has said before that under the right terms and conditions we would consider new shareholders if it was in the best interests of Liverpool as a club.

"FSG remains fully committed to the success of Liverpool, both on and off the pitch."

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have been retained to assist with the potential sale.

The 2010 takeover

FSG agreed in 2010 to buy Liverpool Football Club, having previously been partnered with fellow English side Fulham. They paid £300m to George Gillett and Tom Hicks, who had only purchased the club themselves three years earlier in 2007.

Their leveraged takeover, however, didn't work and left Liverpool £50m in debt. Acting auditor KPMG showed the club's poor financial state and creditors soon pushed forward to force a sale.

It was completed quickly and, after a few dicey opening years, Liverpool's on and off-field prospects soon grew under FSG. The League Cup was actually FSG's first piece of silverware before some promising seasons under Brendan Rodgers culminated in Jurgen Klopp taking the Reds to new heights.

He made them top-four regulars and eventually they won the Champions League in 2019, having lost the final to Real Madrid the season before. They'd go on to win the Premier League the following year before a disappointing 2020/21 campaign.

Liverpool have also won the FA Cup, Carabao Cup, Community Shield, Club World Cup and the Super Cup under FSG.

A renovation of Anfield is also close to completion, while FSG also oversaw the club's move from Melwood to a new £50m facility in Kirkby.

Key figures at FSG

John W. Henry is the founder and largest shareholder of FSG and arguably their most recognisable public figure. He is a keen sports fan which is reflected in FSG's other ventures, which include a NASCAR team and the Boston Red Sox.

Tom Werner is FSG's chairman and owns the second-largest amount of shares in the company. He had previously stated he had long-term plans for the club before news of a sale came to light.

Fan unrest

FSG have attracted criticism from Liverpool supporters in recent years for a number of controversies.

In 2019, supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly campaigned against FSG who were trying to trademark the name Liverpool.

Recruitment driven by transfer guru Michael Edwards papered over the cracks regarding funding, and a few injury crises have shown how bare Liverpool's squad can become.

The 2020/21 season was a particular lowlight as fringe players like Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips became first-team regulars due to injuries suffered to other defensive stars.

Reds fans - and general football fans throughout Europe - also responded with vitriol when Liverpool's involvement in a proposed European Super League became known. While English clubs all rowed back on their participation, the cash-grab nature of the scheme sat poorly with Liverpool's fanbase.

Banners around Anfield protesting the club's owners have been spotted in recent years, with one reading 'Enough is £nough. FSG Out' and another 'Spirit of Shanks, Not Greedy Yanks.'