Fenway Sports Group partner Gerry Cardinale has spoken of his regret at a prospective takeover of Liverpool being vetoed in 2008.
The founder of FSG’s third-largest shareholder RedBird Capital Partners was then working for Goldman Sachs at the time and had urged the American investment bank to take a controlling stake in the Reds at a valuation of $350m (£287.3m).
However, despite obtaining the buy-in of the ownership groups of two of the USA’s most famous sporting franchises and winning over the Goldman investment committee, their then-CEO Lloyd Blankfein blocked the deal.
It meant that Liverpool were still lumped with the toxic reign of Tom Hicks and George Gillett, which was finally ended in 2010 when FSG (then New England Sports Ventures) acquired the club.
Speaking recently as part of a panel at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (via Liverpool ECHO), Cardinale admitted: “The advice to my 20-year-old self? I started the YES Network with George Steinbrenner when I was 33 years old, so the advice to my 33-year-old self would have been the inkling that we had a few years later to go and buy Liverpool at a $350m valuation.
“Goldman (Sachs) shut me down on that and we would have done that a lot earlier and that would have been pretty good.”
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What a shame it was that Blankfein got in the way of Cardinale’s prospective takeover of Liverpool at a time when it would’ve been most welcome.
While FSG get their share of stick from some Reds supporters in the present day, the club is in a much ruder state of health than it was during the rotten regime of Hicks and Gillett.
Shortly prior to their ousting from Anfield in 2010, LFC was on the brink of administration as their owners – who had unhelpfully fallen out with one another – saddled the club with colossal debts, drew the scorn of then-manager Rafael Benitez and turned the fan base vociferously against them.
It’s easy to forget now just how serious Liverpool’s plight was at the time, and it all could’ve been avoided if only Cardinale’s plans to oust FSG’s nefarious predecessors in 2008 had come to fruition.
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