As the embers begin fade on what has been a season of disappointment, turmoil and confusion behind the scenes at Anfield, with the club currently up for sale and new chairman Martin Broughton brought on-board to help ease the sale of the club, the question has been asked by many: Who would buy Liverpool?
It’s a fair question. Given the debt that the club have been saddled with as part of their ‘restructuring’ by Gillett and Hicks, the fact that no new ground is forthcoming and that it seems the manager Rafa Benitez now no longer knows if his future lies at the club (you could say the same of many of the teams star players too), it is little wonder, you would think, that nobody is really that keen to buy the club.
There’s been many an expert puzzling this in recent times. Many a punter gazing over their betting strategies and football knowledge trying to figure out who is most likely to purchase the club and yet not one obvious name has come forward thus far.
Only there are plenty of interested parties in buying the club, even with all that turmoil in place.
The only major stumbling block is the asking price set by the current owners.
It seems to me that Hicks and Gillett very much want their pound of flesh for their time at Anfield. That comes in the astronomical asking price for the club of a reported £800m, a price which suggests that the club has tripled in value since the American duo took over the club in 2007.
I don’t know how they have worked that out, not even the most optimistic sports betting system could come up with a figure like that!
It is worth bearing in mind that during that time, the club have achieved nothing of note in that period, apart from qualifying for the Champions League each season and finishing second on the Premier League last season.
In addition the board have given manager Rafa Benitez a contract worth a reputed £16m, that they are now seemingly unable or unwilling to pay off to get rid of the Spaniard (if that is their aim). They’ve drastically reduced the transfer budget of Benitez, despite seemingly making promises to do the opposite and still no firm action has been taken on the thorny issue of the new ground, despite promises to the contrary.
This combined with the disastrous season that is thankfully about to end, begs the question, how in a time of global downturn, have Liverpool PLC underachieved, overspent and yet seen their net value increase by 300%, when even the most prudent and successful business has seen their value plummet in the global financial crisis?
In short, they haven’t. This is simply two wealthy businessmen wanting their profit maximised and unfortunately, Liverpool is the commodity to achieve that. No other business commands such blind loyalty and emotional dependence. It’s a powerful negotiating tool.
The only problem is, the wealthy investors who would like to take over are fully aware of the inflated asking price and won’t pay it. No investor wants to way pay over the odds for no prospect of an immediate return, which is precisely what Hicks and Gillett are asking.
Especially when you consider that for their £800m, they are still going to have to find the extra money to build a new stadium, buy new players and service or eradicate the debt. To do that effectively to bring Liverpool in line with the Premier League’s and European footballs best in the current climate? Well, you can double the £800m initial investment for starters and don’t expect to start seeing any form of return on your investment for ten, twenty or thirty years afterwards.
And that return is only possible if the club are unfailingly successful throughout that period.
So we have a stalemate, two owners trying to sell an asset at a vastly over-inflated price, willing investors refusing to pay that price and the longer this goes on, the more the club stagnates and the greater the divide between the top clubs in the Premier League and Europe and Liverpool, continues to grow.
It’s a sorry state of affairs and the longer it is allowed to drag on with unreasonable demands being made, the worse it will be for every Liverpool employee, player and fan.