This is a letter to the people who support the FSG Out movement.
I want to start off by saying that the purpose of this letter is not to suggest that I am right and you are wrong, but simply to instigate a balanced discussion rather than the tunnel vision that social media sometimes creates.
Like most of you, my primary desire is to see Liverpool Football Club successful again, whether this is with Fenway Sports Group or with other owners. While I am equally frustrated by the lack of transfer activity by the club this season, I do feel like FSG have been an easy target – often without valid reasoning.
While Manchester City’s owners can bankroll a 500-million-pound transfer spending spree, it comes at a price. In City’s case, it is having to rename their stadium to “The Etihad”. The idea of renaming Anfield is something that locals would go strongly against, so those kind of owners are not a viable option for most. All owners come with their own set of problems that some Liverpool fans fail to see. Abramovich has sacked too many managers for any long term success, and even he has not backed Conte this year. The Glazers riddled United with tremendous debt. And Arsenal’s owners? Well that’s self-explanatory.
It must also be noted however, that FSG did not “save” the club after Gillet and Hicks. They saw an opportunity for an attractive investment with upscale value and took it. FSG have dramatically improved the financial state of the club, and for all the work/money they have invested, they are entitled to gain profits from the club as well. FSG are not a charity organization; they are a business. The profits from Red Sox allow them to self-fund big spending; as such, the parallels drawn are invalid.
FSG did also take a loan against their own name, in order to build the Main Stand. While fans sometimes disregard this as it doesn’t improve our on-pitch performances, it is a substantial step in developing the club and allowing it to progress. That being said, FSG’s biggest error of judgement came as a result of this investment – when they priced tickets at obscenely high rates. FSG is not perfect, and the walkout protest in the Sunderland game showed this, loudly and clearly. Owners are not perfect, and they make mistakes, but the key to being a successful owner is LISTENING. And FSG did just this by backtracking and revising the ticket prices, making it one of the most affordable in the Top 6 teams.
It is undeniable that the summer of 2014 was another FSG failure but it must also be noted that the market was one that was extremely hard to operate in. For one, the only available forward of any real quality was Alexis Sanchez, who wanted a move to London regardless of how much was offered to him. It is madness to see Luis Suarez’s departure being used as a way to blame FSG. The price he went for at the time was one that was reasonable given the player’s desire to move, and the fact that he was banned for a substantial period of time.
The transfer committee of FSG had its failures but people fail to remember that Luis Suarez, Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge, Phillipe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Emre Can, Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana were all signed by the system. That being said, the system was producing more failures than successes which is why it was abandoned. These players have allowed Liverpool to reach a Carling Cup Final, an FA Cup Final, a Europa League Final, a Capital One Cup final and come within inches of a Premier League title. FSG could help neither Gerrard slipping, nor the losses to Chelsea/City in the cup finals nor the capitulation in Basel. Liverpool has had every opportunity for success, but the players have squandered a lot of them.
Signing Klopp was also one of the biggest successes FSG has had during their tenure. He is a proven winner and a perfect fit. But it was a gamble for them, because signing someone like Klopp meant that FSG was in the firing line instead of the manager. For example, when Jürgen says in a press conference that he only wants his Plan A and that he doesn’t have Plan Bs or Cs, fans ignore this stubbornness from the manager, and instead focus on FSG’s lack of investment. The Van Dijk situation was a mess, but without the “tapping up”, Klopp would have never had contact with Virgil, and he would probably already be at Stamford Bridge. With the Keita situation, we submitted a bid for 80 million Euros, but simply speaking, if a club doesn’t want to sell, they don’t have to. The club and Klopp together however, must find a way to address the glaring holes in our squad.
And while it is easy to be #FSGOut, the fact of the matter is there isn’t a queue of people wanting to buy the club. If there is interest, there is also a strong chance that those owners are also in it for the profit. FSG is creating a stable and sustainable financial climate for the club to thrive in under one of the best managers in world football. Instead of focusing on ousting the owners, the fans should be focused on supporting the players in what should be one of the most exciting seasons in recent years.
Once again, my view will not be shared by everyone, or most for that matter. But as long as people are willing to take on board constructive opinions from both sides and have discourse, rather than the toxic “us versus them” climate that exists now, fans will be able to get a more complete and holistic picture on the issue.