The pressure has been immense to sell LFC. Bill Gleeson gets an expert’s view after the final win.
Liverpool’s Champions League success means the club no longer needs to be sold. That is the opinion of one of the region’s leading football finance experts. Liverpool have been in talks for more than year now with potential investors that include property developer and big Reds’ fan Steve Morgan and, at one stage, Thailand’s prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
James Dow, who runs corporate finance advisory firm Dow Schofield Watts, said that the combined proceeds from the club’s run in Europe’s top tournament should ease the club’s cash flow problems.
Mr Dow, who has previously advised Barcelona, Celtic, Ajax and Everton, said: “The Champions League win has allowed them breathing space.
“They may have been seeking investment because previously the directors may have foreseen the need for help with financing a better squad and the planned new stadium. But this could make the difference.”
Mr Morgan, who owns a £400m fortune, was at the game in Istanbul. He didn’t suffer from any of the flight delays of returning fans as he flew by private jet. Yesterday he refused to say what his next move would be in his protracted attempt to buy the club from current majority shareholder and club chairman David Moores.
Mr Morgan issued a statement that read: “I’m delighted we have won and look forward to getting my voice back in the next day or two.” If the price at which club shares trade is anything to go by, Liverpool is less valuable than it was this time last year when the takeover talk was at its height. Last summer, the shares were trading at £4,250 each. Now the price is around the £3,000 mark.
Neil Turner is a stockbroker at Duke Street-based Blankstone Sington. The firm has made a market in the shares of both of Merseyside’s big two clubs for many years.Mr Turner said: “The price has been holding steady in recent weeks in the face of regular supply and demand.
“The shares only trade in small amounts, and there were some enquiries in the last few weeks and there could well be more trading in the next few weeks, but there was none today. I guess too many people still had hangovers.
“I don’t think the shares will rise particularly as a result of last night’s win. Yes they will get more revenue, but the chances are they will spend it quickly.”
The revenue or profit earned by a football club is not necessarily the biggest factor in determining its share price or value. The fact that Steven Gerrard had to lead the most remarkable comeback in Champions League history could be of more value to the club than a straightforward 2-0 victory.
“Romance has a lot more to do with it,” said Mr Dow.. “It’s not just the fact they won it that matters, but the way they won it.”
His view is shared by Rogan Taylor, director of the University of Liverpool’s football industry research group. He said: “The way that they won it is very important. Big brands want to be associated with something special. They want the magic to rub off on them.
“Istanbul was mythological in proportions. To be down and out and then to come back – brands like nothing better than to be associated with that kind of fairy story.” Mr Taylor, a lifelong Liverpool fan, believes the win could improve the value of the club in the medium term. He said: “The additional value to the brand is very significant. “For five years they tried to live off Michael Owen as a brand in the face of what was, by their standards, failure on the pitch.
“When you are not winning big tournaments, it becomes more and more difficult to retain the interest of big sponsors. Now they are in a different position when it comes to renegotiate with Carlsberg.
“As well as about £35m from Uefa, they could be able to improve their take from various sponsorship deals and overseas tours by £10m.” The academic believes that Liverpool’s footballing glory can rub off on the rest of the city.
“The way it happened was very symbolic. There is a synchronicity about the way the city is being lifted out of the doldrums and the way Liverpool came back from adversity.”
Mr Dow doesn’t think that this week’s glories on the pitch will result in a long-term revaluation of the club.
“That would take something quite radical,” he said. “One thing that might result in a sea change in the valuation of clubs is if Malcolm Glazer changes the income model for football clubs. Glazer might try to break the collectively negotiated TV rights deal or at least refine it in some way.
“If he does, and Manchester United make more income, then others will follow suit. “Liverpool would be one of the biggest winners from that.” Such a break-up of the collective bargaining arrangements could allow clubs, particularly top ones, to charge viewers directly to watch televised games on a pay per view basis.
However, most of the rest of the Premiership would challenge any attempt by the bigger clubs to move away from the collective deal, arguing that they are just as necessary to running a league as the big clubs.