Liverpool needs a big summer from FSG. The owners are not always the most liberal when it comes to spending, but there is broad agreement that some major investment is needed in the upcoming transfer market, after perhaps the most disappointing season of the Jürgen Klopp era.
There’s some potentially good news on that front, although the spending is just the start. The onus is on Liverpool — and the staff put in place at the club by FSG — to make sure the recruitment is spot on. Even with funds made available, there is very limited margin for error, and a recent $10m call shows exactly what will need to be avoided.
Meanwhile, there’s developments with one-time Liverpool investor LeBron James. Having traded his two per cent stake in the club for a one per cent share of FSG, he has since increased his equity there, all while continuing his career in the NBA. But after exiting the playoffs, a big decision could be on the horizon.
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Amid another busy week, here’s what you might have missed from the world of FSG, at Liverpool and beyond.
‘Significant investment’ for Liverpool
There have naturally been concerns about what the Liverpool transfer budget might look like for summer. A major rebuild is needed, but FSG has always operated a mostly self-sustaining model, and the failure to qualify for the Champions League will be a major hit to the revenue streams.
However, The Athletic claims that FSG will nonetheless make ‘significant funds’ available to Klopp this summer. Fans would no doubt rather see a number placed on it, but it’s an encouraging update.
After all, from a purely financial perspective, the owners know that it is imperative to get back into the Champions League. Avoiding a prolonged absence is in everyone’s best interests, and that means investing heavily and wisely in the playing squad.
Liverpool.com says: The interests of Liverpool and FSG have generally been broadly aligned, even if the business lens and the supporter lens are very different. Constantly competing at the top level is what fans want, and it also happens to hugely increase the value of the ‘brand’.
Hopefully, that at-times uneasy alliance can bring more success back to very soon. ‘Significant’ on-pitch investment this summer is a positive start.
Surprise LeBron announcement
After a really tough start to the season for the Lakers, it was a bit of a surprise to even see LeBron James in the playoffs. But in no small part thanks to his talismanic presence, his side was able to put together a pretty deep run.
But the conference finals proved a step too far, with LeBron’s Lakers swept 4-0 by the Denver Nuggets. And in the aftermath of that defeat, the basketball icon issued a surprise statement.
Speaking to ESPN, James hinted at possible retirement:
“Going forward with the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about… If I want to continue to play.”
LeBron became the all-time record point scorer in the NBA this season, his 20th campaign.
Liverpool.com says: It still seems highly unlikely that LeBron James will call it a day on his NBA career just yet. He has proved that he still has more to give, even if he isn’t at his absolute peak anymore. And he has long expressed a dream to play with his son, who will begin his college basketball career next season.
If he did retire, though, it would not necessarily be bad news for FSG. There would be a wealth of media opportunities for LeBron, whose marketing and sponsorship is managed by Fenway Sports Management. Nor can his sports business expertise be underestimated, and moving away from the NBA would potentially allow the part-owner to take a more active role.
Brutal $10m Red Sox call
In soccer, you don’t want to get ‘benched’. In baseball, as a pitcher, you don’t want to be moved to the bullpen.
Yet that’s the fate of Corey Kluber at the Boston Red Sox. He formed a part of the FSG summer strategy, with the franchise handing out a one-year, $10m deal. Spanning 13 years in the MLB, he has only appeared from the bullpen as a relief pitcher five times — he was signed as a starter.
But after a mixed start for the Sox, which sees them with a distinctly middle-of-the-road 26-24 record, the call has been made to move Kluber to the bullpen.
Speaking to MassLive, the General Manager gave a simple explanation:
“Right now, we feel that this is the best way to win baseball games.”
Liverpool.com says: As we wrote yesterday, the reality of being an ‘FSG team’ is generally that more or less every investment has to be a hit. There is simply less margin for error when a team is being run sustainably.
Still, the calls on the field are ultimately for the manager to make, and if an investment has not worked out then there is no use in persisting with it. There is still time for Kluber to come good, but a hard-nosed focus on winning in the here and now should be encouraged amid an FSG culture seemingly quite tolerant of ‘rebuilding years’.
We saw similar this season with Klopp and Darwin Núñez. The big-money arrival has certainly not been written off, but as Liverpool made a late push for Europe, the Liverpool manager ultimately went with what he thought would give the best chance of delivering the points.