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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Revealed: How much money Liverpool FC's owners have spent on players

The words of John W Henry were “It’s too early to say what we’re going to do but obviously we’re here to win and we’ll do whatever is necessary.”
This was as he emerged from the office of lawyers Slaughter and May in London in 2010 as the new owner of Liverpool Football Club.
Luiz Suarez celebrates
Luiz Suarez Celebrates a goal
Next Sunday, it will be seven years since he said those words, seven years since Liverpool underwent their second period of American ownership under the guise of New England Sports Ventures, which would late become Fenway Sports Group (FSG).
Nobody - one would imagine - would argue that the second American reign at Anfield has not been considerably better than the first, though bettering the damaging civil war of the Hicks and Gillett era is to damn with faint praise report the Liverpool Echo .
And it would be unnecessarily churlish about a period of undoubted stability for the club, one which has seen Anfield finally expanded by 8,500 extra seats with the new Main Stand, with plans well advanced for a new first team training facility at Kirkby and with the club led by one of Europe’s elite managers.


A relatively newly recruited chief executive in Peter Moore has the sort of business CV which would have recruitment specialists hyper-ventilating - Microsoft, EA Sports, Reebok, Sega et al.
FSG have got many things right at Liverpool and will do so again just this week as the Centenary Stand is renamed in honour of the club legend that is Kenny Dalglish.
But it is the last three words of John Henry’s 2010 phrase which will see supporters diverge in their opinion on whether this ownership group has been as successful as it should have been.
Winning so far in the FSG-era at Anfield has amounted to just one Carling Cup in 2012. And that got that same club legend in Dalglish the sack.
There have been close calls of course. The 2012 FA Cup under Dalglish again, the 2015 Europa League and Capital One finals under Jurgen Klopp and of course most heartbreakingly of all, the 2013-14 Premier League campaign under Brendan Rodgers .
In the English game though “whatever is necessary” to win normally amounts to one thing. Spending.
The amount invested into playing squads has, more or less, offered an accurate correlation to how successful a club will be, for all that Leicester City offered the most crazy exception to prove the rule just two years ago.
So have FSG really done “whatever is necessary” to make Liverpool successful?
Here come the numbers.
Whatever an ownership group do throughout a club, there are probably two issues which above all others will decide their fate with the supporters - the price and availability of tickets alongside investment in the transfer market.
While FSG have certainly had their problems on ticketing issues - witness the infamous walk-out against Sunderland in early 2016 - that tends to affect just a small proportion of supporters, namely those who regularly attend games at Anfield.
For the vast majority of fans spread around the globe, the more pressing issue is the strength of the playing squad and the investment into it.
After taking over in October 2010, it was the January window of 2011 which was the first opportunity for FSG to begin their path towards doing “whatever is necessary” to bring success to Liverpool.
Net spend on players in each of the succeeding seven years
2011: Ins £109.95m Outs £79.1m Net spend £20.8m
2012: Ins £30.23m Outs £14.3m Net spend £15.93m
2013: Ins £65.3m Outs £28.7m Net spend £36.6m
2014: Ins £116.85m Outs £72.875m Net spend £43.975m
2015: Ins £88.5m Outs £76.02m Net spend £12.488m
2016: Ins £69m Outs £86.5m Net spend -£17.5m
2017: Ins £88.9m Outs £47.25m Net spend £41.65m
Total: Ins £568.73m Outs £404.745m
FSG net spend on players in seven years - £163.985m
Average per year - £23.426m
John W Henry
Liverpool owner - John W Henry
A few provisos to mention of course. The exact value of player transfers can often remain a mystery so these figures occasionally relate to the best guestimates available, using the figures registered by the respected LFChistory.net website.
Luis Suarez for instance was originally named as a £75m sale by Liverpool but later information suggested the amount picked up by the club was actually £65m, the figure we use here.
In seven years of owning Liverpool, FSG have a net spend on players of just short of £164m or an average of £23.426m per year.
The highest spending years were in 2014 (the likes of Mario Balotelli , Dejan Lovren , Adam Lallana ) and this summer (Mo Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ).
That investment is well short even of the often-quoted minimum £30m seen as available to invest in each window, a figure which supporters have tended to see as simply not enough anyway.
Context of course is everything.
So how does FSG spend at Liverpool compare to other clubs in the top six?
Like for like comparisons are again difficult given FSG arrived in an October but the figures for the other clubs in the top six since 2010-11 season give a pretty obvious explanation as to why Liverpool have still not bridged the gap to the very top of the league.
Net spending of key rivals since 2010-11
Man City - £718.05m
Man United - £540.05m
Chelsea - £351.8m
Arsenal - £179.8m
Spurs - A remarkable £20.5m profit
In simple terms, Sheikh Mansour-backed Man City ’s net spend on players is almost four and half times that of FGS at Liverpool. At Man United the Glazers are spending three and a third times more, despite servicing the huge debt they used to help buy the club. Chelsea and Abramovich are spending more than double.
Arsenal’s spending has been roughly on a par with Liverpool’s while Spurs have actually made a small profit on players, helped by big returns on the likes of Gareth Bale , Kyle Walker and Luka Modric.
These figures of course do not tell us whether FSG are good or bad owners of Liverpool, or whether fresh weekend reports of a possible takeover might be something desirable or not.
There are too many variables to factor in, many of them highly subjective, for that. You will have your own opinion on that.
But they do perhaps raise some doubt as to whether the owners have fully delivered on doing “whatever is necessary” to bring that longed-for success to Liverpool.

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