John Henry, the owner of Liverpool, spoke exclusively with Dave Powell about signings, investments, and the next phase of the FSG plan.
Liverpool primary owner John W. Henry says the commitment of Fenway Sports Group to the Reds remains “stronger than ever”, in an exclusive interview with the ECHO.
Rumoгs over Liverpool’s future with its 2010 owners have been rampant since November, when it was гevealed that FSG would be willing to transfer their majority ownership of the team.
Although interest in a full takeover had been expressed from the Middle East, the US, and Europe, sources familiar with the situation had repeatedly told the ECHO that FSG believed there had been little “гeal” interest and preferred the Liverpool owners to find a “strategic partner” who could help them recapitalize the company and support their long-term growth goals.
Henry personally put an end to гumoгs of a full sale last month when he said the search for a minority partner was the only thing on the table and that the concept had been taken off the table.
Henry has now given a rare interview to the ECHO in which he has only discussed the situation with regard to investments, FSG’s commitment to the future, and plans for the transfer market.
“While we formalised a process that has identified potential investors for the club, we remain fully committed to the long-term success of the club,” said Henry.
“That has been the case since day one in 2010. Our efforts every day have been and continue to be focused on the long-term health and competitiveness of the club. Investment in the club is never for the short-term. This approach has been successful over the long haul with patience necessary from time to time.
“In regard to Liverpool Football Club our commitment remains stronger than ever. The club continues to make great progress with youth on the field and off. Our Foundation is well supported and continues to quietly expand the importance of its work in different ways looking for as many small kindnesses as possible individually and hopefully cumulatively.
“The people of this club starting with its manager, its players and everyone from stewards to management are committed to the club locally, committed to maintaining the club’s great history and equally committed to making new history in a way that our supporters can be proud of.
“Being a part of this club is something no one takes for granted.”
One area that has been of focus for Liverpool fans is the transfer market, with the Reds likely to have to spend a considerable amount this summer due to the need for something of a rebuild in key areas, particularly midfield.
Investment into the first team is set to arrive this summer, but Henry has stressed that the building of the club will continue to be done in a ‘responsible manner’.
“We continue building at Liverpool Football Club in a responsible manner,” said Henry.
“We’ve seen many football clubs (including LFC previously) go down unsustainable paths. We have and will continue to focus our attention on investing wisely in the transfer market and we remain incredibly proud of our squad.
“At the same time we continue investing in our training facilities, our main stand and currently the Anfield Road stand. These are all physical reflections of our resolve and how very seriously Fenway Sports Group takes its responsibilities for this great club.”
The Premier League landscape has altered significantly since FSG acquired the club back in 2010 from the near ruinous regime of Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
Spending on both transfer fees and wages has risen exponentially year on year and maintaining even a break-even model in the world’s most watched football league has proved challenging despite record-breaking revenues.
Liverpool have managed to find a way to level the playing field through their use of data, smart recruitment and ability to get the best-in-class making key decisions, not least manager Jurgen Klopp, but Henry admits that it is a challenge.
“You are right that there are ever-increasing financial challenges in the Premier League,” said the 73-year-old.
“The league itself is extraordinarily successful and is the greatest football competition in the world, but we’ve thought for some time there should be limits on spending so that the league doesn’t go the way of European leagues where one or two clubs annually have little competition.
“Excitement depends on competition and is the most important component of the Premier League.”
Henry also addressed the status of FSG President Mike Gordon, who had been deputized to oversee the club’s investment Һunt, which was being aided by American investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
For more than ten years, Gordon has been the FSG senior management member at Anfield who has been the most involved. However, last year, he delegated many of his day-to-day duties to Reds CEO Billy Hogan.
Mike still has a strong commitment to the team, according to Henry. Although he did take some time off this winter, he is still a long way from retiring.
“Billy continues to be a driving force for the club. As CEO of the club, his remit is much larger than most people would think. Jurgen and Billy are a very strong combination and work very well together.”