Liverpool’s troubles on the field are causing Liverpool fans enough heartache at the moment that most of us really don’t want to add investment talk into the mix. However the weekend press carried stories that Dubai Holdings were looking at the possibility of buying into the most successful English club of all time. The company is an investment firm looked after by Dubai’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Makhtoum.
An investment expert from Brewin Dolphin Securities has spoken to the Press Association about the possibility of Liverpool being the target of such an organisation. Stan Lock says that Liverpool are currently the most attractive club for any investors to buy into: “Firstly, it is one of the top clubs in Europe, they won the Champions League less than two years ago. How many top clubs are there in the Premier League at the moment that you can get hold of? If you were going to take over a club you would look at the top four – Manchester United and Chelsea have gone, and with Arsenal I should think it's only a matter of time before they're gone. That leaves you with Liverpool – that's your lot.”
Liverpool fans in the main do not fancy the idea of being taken over in a way similar to what happened to either Manchester United or Chelsea, most Reds want the club to be owned and run by true Liverpool supporters. Unfortunately it’s not easy to find any rich enough to do this, with perhaps the exception of Steve Morgan, but even he seems reluctant to pay what the current chairman feels is the going rate.
Lock says: “Manchester United and Chelsea have both gone into private ownership and that is looking like being the trend. Trading in football club shares is a nightmare – it's always in small tranches, you can never buy a lot of shares and half of them are held by the board. The only people that normally deal in football club shares are the supporters, everybody likes to have a certificate up on the wall saying they own a bit of their club. Really, apart from that, there is no reason why a club should be listed.”
Lock was asked if he though the valuation put on the club by David Moores of £300million was a true indicator of the worth of the European giant: “That's probably right. They will base that on future earnings and where the club is going to go. They are desperate for a new stadium and they do need new money to help build this, and this is where the present board can't go any further.”
That seems to be debatable – Liverpool can clearly raise the money if they need to based on loans rather than investment, even if that isn’t necessarily the best option. The board may decide not to go any further because they don’t want to risk the club’s future by taking out such huge loans, but at the same time they won’t want to risk the club in a different way by selling it to the wrong kind of rich man! What Lock says though is that if the club do decide to turn to the likes of Dubai for money then they won’t find themselves short of cash again: “It does need this extra investment and, if it is coming from the Middle East, it's going to be a bottomless pocket. They could buy Liverpool with their spare change.” And according to Lock, it will be more than likely a complete buyout of the club: “I doubt they would go in for an investment, it would probably be for the lot.”