- Sep 30, 2010
This article from the Liverpool Echo is pretty remarkable. If you replaced "Liverpool" with "Red Sox" and "Jurgen Klopp" with "Alex Cora" you'd think the Globe had published this.
The criticism of Fenway Sports Group and their perceived lack of investment in the Liverpool squad at crucial times isn't new.
While the earlier years of the ownership, where the club had been acquired from the near ruinous regime of Tom Hicks and George Gillett, where the club was still more than two decades on from being champions of England again and where the fanbase were being continually starved of those memorable European nights, meant that FSG had some space and time to establish a strategy and recruitment model to bring them back in the mix with the new powers of football, recent years have been less forgiving.
Champions League winners in 2019, Premier League winners in 2020, a whisker from the quadruple last season and an established presence among Europe's finest year in, year out, with three Champions League final appearances in five years has raised the profile, the revenues, the opportunities, the expectation and the pressure to deliver.
In recent years, though, the success of Liverpool has been seen by some as something achieved in spite of FSG, triumphs delivered through the sheer brilliance of Klopp and his ability to pull levels out of players that were never expected. The role that Klopp has played at the football club has been nothing short of remarkable, worthy of adding his name alongside the greats to have sat in the Anfield dugout.
But I'm glad Sox fans aren't at this point yet:As business owners they have delivered. A stadium that has improved beyond recognition from what existed when they took over, a balance sheet that allows them to fund the club sustainably against a backdrop of a new wave of owners in football with an open wallet policy and some deeply questionable motives. All that is to their credit and are things that can't be denied, at least by those who are open to having a meaningful conversation around what football club ownership should look like.
But for all the commercial revenue streams increasing, for all the joy that occurred on the pitch through the last few seasons, there has been an underlying worry that the lack of risk taken in some transfer windows and a perceived reliance on what is now seen as the 'Liverpool model' of sell to buy, has meant that it has all seemed a little more impermanent than the success that Manchester City have been enjoying, albeit success that has largely been domestic.
Would ownership from groups that have been heavily criticised, such as Newcastle United's owners, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, and Manchester City's Abu Dhabi-based City Football Group be welcomed with open arms despite the geopolitical issues that surround them and their accusations of reputation laundering and sports washing? Is it all ok if you are signing big players in the transfer window?