MARK SHAPLAND: John W. Henry is bidding to find out Liverpool’s true value in seeking investors

COMMENT: John W Henry is fishing for Liverpool’s true value by looking to sell a small stake in the club. It was a tactic used by Man City in 2019 and will help the Anfield owner get his hands on more money to compete with rivals

  • Fenway Sports Group announced last year that they were looking for investment
  • It was believed that they would also consider outright offers for Liverpool
  • John W. Henry rubbished claims they will sell – but they are looking for investors

John W. Henry’s comments to a paper in Boston about talking to investors but not wishing to sell Liverpool have left many fans scratching their heads.

What exactly is the US billionaire up to?

‘Are we selling Liverpool Football Club? No. Are we talking with investors about Liverpool Football Club? Yes. Will something happen there? I believe so, but it won’t be a sale,’ he told the Boston Sports Journal.

The most likely scenario, according to investment bankers, is that Henry wants to find out how much Liverpool is worth. The simplest way to do this is by selling a small stake in the club. By offloading, say, a five per cent holding Henry can then calculate how much the whole club is worth. 

This is an old trick and was last performed by Manchester City in 2019 when 10 per cent of the club was sold to US tech private equity giant Silver Lake for $500million (£415m), valuing the whole group at nearly $5bn. Cue many puzzled faces as City did not need the money and Silver Lake had never invested in sport before. But City’s executives wanted a valuation more than 10 years after they bought the club in September 2008 for £210m.

John W. Henry is likely fishing for a clear valuation of Liverpool with his seeking of investors

Anfield is currently being redeveloped and they will want to maintain pace with their rivals

Anfield is currently being redeveloped and they will want to maintain pace with their rivals

Likewise, Henry needs to know how much Liverpool is worth since Fenway Sports Group bought the club for £300m in 2010.

By knowing the club’s value, Henry can refinance loans, find additional sources of investment — essentially the Liverpool owner can get his hands on more money. This is vital if Liverpool wish to continue rebuilding Anfield or compete with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City in the transfer market.

No doubt, though, Henry will also have kept an eye on the sales process at arch-rivals Manchester United, who have received blockbuster bids from British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the chairman of the Qatar Islamic Bank.

Are Henry’s latest comments laced with a touch of jealousy that the same level of interest has not been shown his way as the Reds have failed to attract interest from the Middle East?