Liverpool owners FSG get £340m boost as Manchester United gap closed

Liverpool have seen a near £343m (€400m) rise in their value over the past year, according to the latest valuations from renowned US money magazine Forbes.

In the 2021 Forbes list, which compared the most valuable football teams in the world, Liverpool sat fifth with a valuation of €4.1bn (£3.52bn). But following a successful season on the pitch, revenue streams bouncing back well post pandemic and the club’s ability to manage its way through the financial uncertainty of COVID without incurring huge losses, the Reds have jumped into fourth place on the global list.

Forbes peg Liverpool’s valuation in 2022 at around €4.45bn (£3.82bn), a valuation that sees them leapfrog Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, although they still trail Manchester United by an estimated €150m (£129m). The Red Devils sit third despite their continued lack of success on the pitch and the fractious nature of the relationship between the aloof Glazer family’s ownership and the club’s fan base. United have, though, stagnated at the same valuation (€4.6bn) as the list 12 months ago.

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The top two spots belong to Barcelona in second ($5.1bn) and Liverpool’s Champions League final conquerors Real Madrid in first (€5.1bn). Manchester City sit sixth at €4.25bn, Paris Saint-Germain seventh (€3.2bn), Chelsea eighth (€3.1bn), Juventus ninth (€2.45bn) and Tottenham Hotspur in 10th at €2.35bn.

The increase in value of Liverpool now pushes owners Fenway Sports Group comfortably past the $10bn bracket when it comes to the total value of their whole empire, one that includes the Reds, the Boston Red Sox, the Pittsburgh Penguins, RFK Racing, Fenway Sports Management, retail enterprises and part ownership stakes in other ventures such as LeBron James’ SpringHill Entertainment Company.

Two of the clubs on Forbes’ top-20 list have both been recently acquired by new ownership, with Chelsea bought by the Todd Boehly US consortium last month for a fee believed to be around £2.5bn (€3bn), close to the valuation that Forbes placed on the Premier League club.

AC Milan have also had new owners earlier this month, with New York-based private equity firm RedBird Capital Partners, the fund that purchased an 11 per cent stake in Liverpool owners FSG in March of 2021 for a $750m sum, closing on a deal to acquire the Serie A champions from fellow US investment fund Elliott Management at a €1.2bn valuation. AC Milan’s value in the current list, which was published just prior to the RedBird takeover, is placed at exactly that, €1.2bn.

Despite the pandemic and clubs having to emerge from it, in many cases with losses, valuations of football clubs have continued to rise, something that investors believe will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future as global media rights continue to rise exponentially, particularly for the Premier League.

Speaking to Bloomberg earlier this year, Cardinale said: “The valuation discussion is complicated. There isn’t a great amount of rigour 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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