On the deadline day for the American owners of Liverpool FC to complete the refinancing of the debt they took on to buy and run the Club, the two key supporters’ groups, ShareLiverpoolFC (SLFC) and Spirit of Shankly (SoS) unveiled a revised fan buy-out plan for consideration by the banks and the owners. Though it is expected that RBS & Wachovia will extend the credit line to the current owners, in the view of the fans, this is only a short term (and expensive) fix for LFC.
Initially SLFC looked to raise £500m from 100,000 LFC fans who would pay £5,000 for a single share. Feedback received from SLFC registrants and SoS has convinced SLFC that reducing the ‘entry fee’ from £5,000 to £500 is the best way forward, as it ensures a much broader base of fans can get involved. Subsequently, they have put together a revised proposal.
The revised proposal is designed to achieve:
· Fan ownership of Liverpool FC
· A much broader base of that ownership by reducing the entry price for a single share from £5,000 to £500
· One member: one vote
· A way in which fans who can afford to put in more than £500 can receive a return of 2%
· A way commercial investors can participate
The fan groups are looking to raise £150 million from LFC fans to initially acquire a 60% interest in the Club:
· Approximately £10 million to come from the sale of £500 shares in ShareLiverpoolFC on a one person one share basis
· Approximately £140 million to come from shareholding fans acquiring SLFC Loan Stock which gives them a return of 2% a year
In addition to this, they are seeking a commercial partner to invest £100 million in return for a 40% interest in the Club, through a combination of loan stock and equity shares. This raises in total £250 million which can be used to pay down £250 million of the current £350 million of bank debt.
The £100 million balance of current bank debt would be exchanged for convertible loan stock in LFC, which SLFC would have rights to acquire from the banks in equal annual instalments over a 20 year term. Acquisition and conversion of the LFC loan stock would eventually raise SLFC’s equity interest in the Club to 71%.
The SLFC Board issued the following statement:
“This is a realistic plan that squares the circle: How to get broadly based fan ownership of the Club, and relieve the level of debt, by offering Liverpool fans an affordable entry fee and a chance to get a modest return for their additional financial support. Now we need all those Liverpool fans to carefully consider the proposals in detail on our website – and let us know what they think”.
A Spirit of Shankly spokesperson added: “This new proposal is a sound, sensible and workable plan which offers the only real solution for the Club: long term financing that isn’t supported by short term – and expensive – bank debt. The new proposal can do precisely that.”
Supporters Direct Chief Executive, Dave Boyle, said:
“This proposal is the only sensible, sustainable offer that’s been put forward that also meets the crucial community requirements. Community ownership is something both the Government and UEFA are strongly supportive of, and this proposal is very much in line with that. The Club seems to be at a crossroads. It will either continue to be owned by a group of distant people with an eye on the bottom line, driven by the need to pay off colossal debts, or owned by the community, like Barcelona or Bayern Munich.”
END Notes to Editors
Both SLFC and the SoS were launched separately but simultaneously, on 24th January, 2008. Both groups were concerned about the Club’s rising debt and the failure of the owners to provide funds for the new stadium. Both aimed to move towards fan ownership of their Club. Recently, they formed a joint working party to further co-operation between the two organisations, and two representatives of Spirit of Shankly were invited onto the ShareLiverpoolFC board.
Both groups have been working with Supporters Direct, the government-backed body that helps fans who want to take ownership stakes in their clubs.
An ‘Executive Summary’ of the new proposal and a more detailed account can be downloaded at www.shareliverpoolfc.com
Rogan Taylor: 44 151 734 5340/07977 928364
Spirit of Shankly
James McKenna: 07825 660859
Spirit of Shankly Chairman,
Paul Rice: 44 (0)7870 517 415
Dave Boyle: 44 (0) 7779 711264