Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group have revealed they are entertaining offers to sell part of their stake in the club
Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group are still putting recruitment high on their agenda amid apparent changes to their takeover plan.
At the start of November, it was reported that FSG were open to selling the club after more than a decade at the helm. The news was followed by a revelation from Manchester United owners the Glazer family that they two were potentially preparing for a sale.
After a potential timeline began to emerge on United’s side, it has emerged that FSG are leaning towards a sale of a smaller stake rather than opening the Reds up to an outright takeover. Whether that is achieved or not, the owners’ transfer stance appears clear.
A “partial equity sale” is said to be the leading option, according to the Boston Globe. The same publication reports that player recruitment is at the top of the owners’ agenda, and such a situation may excite fans ahead of the January transfer window.
“Great companies grow by adding value to their business,” Fenway Sports partner and Boston Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said on November 17. “One way to increase that value from time to time is to sell assets or add investors. Does that mean FSG is going to sell Liverpool? I do not know.
“It’s John Henry’s, Tom Werner’s and Mike Gordon’s job to responsibly run Fenway Sports Group and they felt this was an ideal time to explore possible opportunities for investment into the club.”
Liverpool spent big over the summer after losing the 2022 Champions League final, signing Darwin Nunez for what could become a club-record fee. However, the latest developments suggest the spending will not end there.
Borussia Dortmund and England midfielder Jude Bellingham continues to be linked with an Anfield switch after impressing for club and country. The 19-year-old has been tipped to leave Signal Iduna Park at the end of the current season, with Liverpool among a number of potential suitors.
The Reds have made changes behind the scenes over the last two years, with sporting director Michael Edwards stepping away and successor Julian Ward announcing plans to leave his post after just 12 months. Former Arsenal transfer chief Sven Mislintat is one of the names to emerge as a potential successor to Ward after ending a stint with Stuttgart.
Liverpool’s appeal in the next summer window could rest on their performances this time around, though, with a real chance they miss out on a spot in next season’s Champions League. Jurgen Klopp’s team will return from the World Cup break sitting seven points outside the top four, though they are into the last 16 in Europe after finishing second behind Napoli in their group.
Plastered in the window of the LFC club store, in the heart of Liverpool’s shopping district, is a photo of Melissa Lawley.
She’s posing alongside teammates Carla Humphrey and Leighanne Robe, the eye-catching poster hanging next to images of Premier League stars like Jordan Henderson, Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konate.
In a way, the conspicuous display seems completely at odds with Lawley’s personality. The Liverpool winger is, by her own admission, “not a real big speaker” in the dressing room and instead prefers to do her talking on the pitch.
But her performances of late have been causing a stir. In a newly-promoted side that has, at times, struggled for form since returning to the Women’s Super League, Lawley has looked completely at home in the top-flight of the women’s game.
Following the 28-year-old’s impressive outing against Reading last week, in which she bagged two sublime assists, manager Matt Beard waxed lyrical about his star winger, even going as far as to tip her for an England call-up.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if England are looking at her, especially with Beth Mead’s injury,” the Liverpool boss said after his side’s 3-3 draw with Royals.
“I think Mel, on her day, can win games by herself.”
Lawley has previous experience on the international stage, having progressed through England’s youth ranks before being handed her senior debut by Mo Marley in October 2017. Her most recent cap came against Portugal in 2019 but, with next summer’s Women’s World Cup on the horizon, fighting her way back into Sarina Wiegman’s squad is now starting to feel like a very tangible prospect for the 28-year-old.
“I’ve always told myself don’t give up, always believe in yourself and, even though it’s taking longer than I thought to try and get back in (to the England set-up) my main focus is just to enjoy myself, play the way I know I can and not put too much pressure on myself,” Lawley told Mirror Football.
“I know then, if they do come knocking on my door, it will be a pat on the back for myself for not giving up and always working hard. Obviously it’s in the back of my mind but I’m just taking it day by day, doing the best I can and trying to improve from my last performance.”
For Lawley, who grew up kicking a ball around in the streets of her native Kidderminster, the opportunity to test herself on the biggest stages in one that she relishes, and a reality that seems a million miles away from the early days of her football career, when she juggled playing for Birmingham City with a part-time job as a care-worker.
“When I was at Birmingham, it was part time at the start so on my days off I’d be doing 12 hour shifts, either in the day or in the night,” she said.
“Then I’d be trying to balance it with training. It was hard to juggle and when I look back now it’s hard to see how you can do that while still trying to perform as a professional athlete.”
While playing for Birmingham City was not without its challenges, it did present a chance for Lawley to line-up alongside one her childhood heroes in Karen Carney, whose style of play has long been an inspiration for the Liverpool winger.
“I used to really look up to Kaz because she was from Birmingham and, when I was at the club, she used to give me her old boots,” Lawley said.
“She was obviously a winger and used to love getting at players, beating players, which was the way I wanted to play.”
Lawley’s eye-catching displays for Birmingham earned her a move to the reigning WSL champions, Manchester City, in 2016. However, after clocking up 51 appearances in four years at the Academy Stadium, the winger made the switch to Liverpool in 2019.
It wasn’t the easiest start to life on Merseyside for Lawley. She was part of a squad that won just one of their 14 games before the FA used a points-per-game system to determine the league’s final standings after the pandemic hit in March 2020.
As Jurgen Klopp’s team cruised to the summit of the Premier League and secured Liverpool’s first league title in 30 years, the women were relegated. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Lawley, who used her two years in the Championship as an opportunity to get back to her very best.
“I came to Liverpool thinking we’d stay in the WSL,” she said. “Obviously it didn’t go that way and it was a negative for us going down but, for me, I tried to turn it into a positive.
“I was getting my confidence back, I was back playing again, even though it was in the Championship. I look at it as a journey. We’ve had our knockdown but now we’re rising back up and hopefully I can perform the way I used to and hopefully Liverpool can stay established in the WSL.”
After last season’s stellar league campaign saw the Reds comfortably secure promotion, it hasn’t been a fairytale return to the top-flight, with Liverpool without a win since their shock opening day victory over Chelsea. But, with Matt Beard at the helm, Lawley is confident her side will find form and start getting some much-needed points on the board.
She told Mirror Football: “We knew it was going to be difficult coming straight in against the tougher teams and the better players but I think we are adjusting. We’re finding our feet and the last couple of games we’ve been performing well. The result just hasn’t come our way.
“For the last two years at the club under Beardy, the group has been so together. The results haven’t gone the way we wanted, but we’re still sticking together, still having a laugh, joking around but then once we get onto the training pitch its like ‘right, we’ve got work to do and we’ve got to be better than we were last time’.
And Liverpool will have ample opportunity to start putting that hard work into practice as the fixtures pile up in the coming weeks, with the visit of West Ham to Prenton Park on Sunday the first of three consecutive home games before Christmas.
For Lawley, its a chance to continue showing the WSL, and potentially Sarina Wiegman, what she can do and help Liverpool climb the table ahead of the upcoming winter break.
“I’ve had a few knockdowns,” she said, “but I’ve stuck by myself and kept believing in myself.
“I do believe I’m getting back to my best. I’ve still got a little way to go but I’ve just got to keep working hard, focus on myself and focus on getting the three points for the team.”
And while the 28-year-old is fully focused on performing on the pitch, the poster that hangs in the window of LFC’s flagship store is a poignant reminder of the impact she’s making off it.
“It’s a mad feeling,” she said, “because you see your face and you’re just like ‘I’m trying to do what I do best and live my dream’ but when you see little girls looking up to you it’s an unbelievable feeling.
“Hopefully we can try and be the best role models we can and try and help them live their dreams as well.”