Liverpool set to usurp Manchester United for the first time with eye watering £3.5 billion boost

Liverpool look set to overtake Manchester United for the first time when the 2022 club valuations are published by Forbes next month.

Fenway Sports Group acquired the Merseyside club for £300 million in 2010 with the club in a bad place after the disastrous ownership regime of George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

And the past 12 years have seen the Reds owners benefit from investment into infrastructure and success at a time when an increase in worldwide media deals have seen team valuations soar to eye-watering levels.

In the 2021 list, Liverpool were ranked as the fifth most valuable football club in the world with a valuation of $4.1 billion (£3.15 billion). The top five was made up of Manchester United in fourth, Bayern Munich in third, Real Madrid in second and Barcelona in first.

Now in 2022 with Liverpool potentially overtaking Manchester United on the list for the first time with a £3.5 billion valuation possible, a sign that the power of the brand that some at United thought was not predicated on winning games of football, finally coming under some strain due to continued failings on the pitch.

The valuation of Liverpool meant that they passed the Boston Red Sox to become the most valuable sporting team in an Fenway Sports Group empire that is now valued at around $10 billion following the acquisition of the Pittsburgh Penguins and introduction of new partners such as LeBron James and fresh capital through the sale of 11 per cent of the business to RedBird Capital Partners.

However this year they will finally overtake the Old Trafford club but it is likely to see values ​​across the board rise once more.

Just three teams saw a fall in value over the two years prior in the previous 18-strong list; West Ham United, AC Milan and AS Roma. For the teams who have occupied the top spots the values ​​are set to leap once more, especially for Premier League teams after the bumper media deal that they secured internationally.

For sides that regularly qualify for the Champions League, the forthcoming media deal will be its biggest yet at £12.5 billion, a deal so big that it should be enough to kill the idea of ​​the European Super League for the foreseeable future.

Founder and managing partner of RedBird Capital, Gerry Cardinale, who closed a $750 million deal for 11 per cent of Fenway Sports Group in March 2021, believes the club’s valuations will only continue to rise for the foreseeable future.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Cardinale said: “The valuation discussion is complicated. There isn’t a great amount of rigor to it. There is a little bit of LIFO (last in, first out) to it, as in you look at the last trade and you put a mark-up on it.

“What is alluring there, and deceptive, is that people have become used to everything always going up in sports. That’s anti-Darwinian, that’s not possible. Now, the slope of that curve may change, but for the foreseeable future everything keeps going up.

“The valuations signal the fact that there is something very premium here, there is scarcity value and there is something very unique in everything that is going on in media and the convergence of (sports, media, entertainment, technology) streams where this is some of the best content that you can access.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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