Why Are Liverpool & Man United Both Up For Sale Now?

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By Tonny Ingutia

Manchester United fans have reacted positively to the news that the Glazer family is willing to sell the club after an acrimonious relationship with fans during their 17-year tenure.

However, United are not the only iconic English club on the market, with Liverpool’s owners, the Fenway Sports Group, also looking to sell a portion or the entirety of their stake in the six-time European champions.

AFP Sport looks at the reasons why both the two most successful clubs in English football history are up for sale:

Super League stalemate

The Glazers and FSG were behind the failed attempt to form a separate European Super League in 2021, which quickly collapsed amid a furious backlash from fans, governing bodies, and politicians.

A cabal of 12 leading European clubs sought to establish a closed league format similar to that used in American sports, with no promotion or relegation and no need to qualify every year, as they do now for the Champions League.

The idea was to maximize revenue by playing more guaranteed games against top-tier opposition while also controlling costs in order to make clubs far more profitable.

Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus are battling it out in court to establish the Super League.

However, with opposition to the project still strong in England, any Premier League owner would be foolish to pursue it.

Newcastle threat

Without a Super League, United and Liverpool rely even more on Champions League revenue.

However, the rise of Newcastle under the ownership of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund threatens their place at the top table of European football.

While the Premier League is on break for the World Cup, neither Manchester United nor Liverpool are in the top four.

Newcastle has risen to third place just over a year into a new era.

Both clubs have already felt the sting of state wealth, with Abu Dhabi-backed Manchester City supplanting their traditional rivals to become the dominant force in English football over the last decade.

This season, United failed to qualify for the Champions League for the fourth time in ten years.

Liverpool are in the competition for the sixth season in a row, thanks to coach Jurgen Klopp’s turnaround of the Reds’ fortunes.

Prior to that run, Liverpool had only made it to the Champions League once in the previous seven years.

Chelsea sale price

Despite a fire sale caused by sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich for his ties to the Kremlin, Chelsea fetched a record price for a football club of £2.5 billion ($3 billion) in May thanks to a bidding war.

Raine, the same bank used in the Chelsea sale, has been appointed to lead the process for new investment, which is telling.

United and Liverpool should command a higher price than the Blues, despite being based in England’s north-west rather than London.

Analysts believe United could fetch up to £5 billion for the club the Glazers purchased in a leveraged takeover for £790 million.

FSG stands to make a tenfold return on the £300 million it spent to acquire Liverpool in 2010.

Changing economic climate

As interest rates rise to combat global inflation, the burden of carrying debt has grown significantly.

In the 2021/22 season, United’s net borrowings increased to £515 million.

In their statement seeking investment, the Glazers also acknowledged the need for significant capital expenditure on upgrading Old Trafford.

During FSG’s tenure, Liverpool is undergoing a second stadium expansion, with an £80 million redevelopment of the Anfield Road Stand.

On the field, Liverpool fans are also pleading for new player investment following a dramatic drop in performance this season by an ageing squad.

Both the Glazers and FSG appear to have decided that now is the time to cash out, with borrowing far more expensive than it has been for the majority of their time in English football.

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