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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Dave Powell

Former Arsenal chief gives theory on why FSG put Liverpool up for sale

Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein believes that the failure of the European Super League to come to pass has been the motivating factor behind both the owners of Liverpool and Manchester United to explore the potential sale of their respective clubs.

Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool's owners, and the Glazer family, the owners of Manchester United, were significant agitators behind the failed ESL plot back in April 2021, both renouncing their intentions to take part in the proposed 12-team competition in the face of enormous fan ire and pressure from governing bodies and governments in what was a seismic 48 hours in European football last year.

Last month the owners of both clubs opened themselves up to expressions of interest in a full sale, although for both the potential for minority investment and their continued stewardship of the respective clubs remains on the table. In the case of Liverpool, the ECHO has been told by well-placed US sources that a "strategic partner" would be a preferred outcome, but with plenty of interest in the club, understood to be valued at $4bn, a major offer above and beyond that could change that stance.

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The ESL idea was wholly rejected by the wider football family and fans around the world, although that didn't stop Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus remaining espoused to the idea and taking legal action against European football's governing body, UEFA, where they challenged what they saw as a monopoly of the game at an elite level on the continent.

That legal action reached a head on Thursday when the European Super League Company, the company behind the ESL plans, were dealt a major blow after the Advocate General at the European Court of Justice, Athanasios Rantos, sided with UEFA when giving his non-binding opinions on the matter after months of representations from the legal counsels of both sides. Mr Rantos' opinions on that matter will now be passed back to the Madrid courts to rule on, with the Advocate General's take likely to give some direction as to the final, legally binding, outcome of the case.

Mr Rantos' findings indicated that UEFA and FIFA should have the right to block the creation of new competitions such as the doomed Super League - and also to issue punishments to sides that participate in breakaway projects. While a blow to the ESLC and A22, the promoters of the ESL, they have vowed to press ahead with seeking avenues to explore the reform that they desire.

Former Arsenal vice-chairman Dein, a major driving force in the growth of the Premier League and its presence on the global stage, believes that failure of the ESL has been a factor in the recent decisions taken by the owners of both Liverpool and Manchester United.

Speaking to The Times, Dein, who also had views on any push towards the Americanisation of the English game, said: "I was very worried about the Super League.

"That was the owners not reading the tea leaves properly. They got the wrong message, and that clearly was driven by owners thinking that there was a holy grail out there [of a closed shop and increased revenue], and that probably promoted the sale of Liverpool and Manchester United.

"They’ve got a different dynamic in the States. They have a sterile league and they can move franchises around from city to city. We’re not like that. We are passionate about our clubs. It’s club football that means so much and has to be protected."

Dein was also pressed on where he thought the interest may arrive from when it came to prospective bidders for both Liverpool and Manchester United, with the 79-year-old predicting that another change in the ownership landscape was on the horizon, one that already has roots through the ownership of clubs like Manchester City, Newcastle United and Paris Saint-Germain.

He said: "When I joined Arsenal, the people buying were local businessmen investing in their club and then it changed, they became millionaires [buying], then billionaires, and it will change again and become sovereign states."


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