Posts Tagged ‘Fenway Sports Group’

‘Do you know what I don’t understand?’ I said to the other half, in a serious monotone. ‘Quantum physics!’ she laughed; probably more out of pity than anything else. My jokes have never been the best.

It makes sense that I don’t understand quantum physics – hence why my joke was so funny. But what doesn’t make sense (and what I also can’t comprehend) is this feeling of optimism I get at every ‘new season’s eve’.

I even had it last year. Well! It was a little different last year. Maybe more along the lines of ‘it won’t be that bad’. Even the signing of Joe Cole made me wonder if we could push our way into the top four. Maybe he’d just gone stale at Chelsea and he’d be rejuvinated in red. Oh, how wrong was I? Poor misguided fool.

It’s not wrong though, is it? It’s perfectly normal to get questions running through your mind:

What if all the signings turn out to be first class, can we push for top four or maybe even better?

Will it make a big difference with us not playing in Europe, while others around us are?

Have Arsenal blown their chances of top four, with two of their best players on the way out of the door? (obviously not the best of poets either!)

Can Kenny Dalglish carry the team to silverware, given the form he got out of a weaker team at the end of last season?

Despite my current optimism my brow has become increasingly furrowed with each signing we’ve made. I’m not sure I understand the logic of paying such a premium for English players. The signing of Andy Carroll still makes my head spin. Not that he’s a bad player and not that he can’t become a great one. Just because the level of improvement we’ll need to see to warrant such an expensive investment is vast.

There is clearly a strategy in play. A plan has been formalised and is being followed with great rigour. Inexorably leading us to fielding the highest number of british players a Liverpool side has seen in a long time. After harping on so many times last season about the need for Fenway Sports Group to plan fully and think differently. I would be a hypocrite to start complaining now.

You can’t help but feel that we’re at a tipping point though. The last chance saloon? If the plan doesn’t work, worse – if it backfires completly, the top four could be a long lost forgotten dream. Our owners don’t appear to have the same financial clout as the clubs we’re competing against, they’ve even admitted as much. So if this doesn’t work – is there money for a plan B? Doubtful.

And yet, I feel optimistic. That optimism is bourne out of trust. Trust in Fenway Sports Group, Damien Commolli and in particular Kenny Dalglish. Three parties all pointing in the same direction, singing from the same hymn sheet with the same goal in mind. What would we have given for that at the start of last season?

No European football will undoutbtedly have a telling impact on how the season unfolds. How many times did we see strong European performances followed by lacklustre domestic showings a few days later. European games put an additional pressure on squads, which in the past has been quite telling. Let’s face it none of those teams in European action are going to want to face us a few days after a trip away.

As for the signings. Well I have to trust those who make such decisions. I’ve been puzzled by them, but I believe those, who know far more than me, believe in why they have made them. Even at a premium. None of them are bad signings, just expensive ones. But if we get greater team cohesion from the outset (and into the future) who’s to say what might actually happen next season.

Cards on the table time. The bit I’ll probably cringe at come the end of the season. But I am going to be brave and set it in cyberspace stone. I think we’ll finish top four, probably with a cup. That will be a platform to build from for the future.

With a dose of good luck, or maybe even just avoiding the dose of bad luck we’ve been known for, I think we could possibly achieve even more. There’s a plan – it’s different and seems to be getting followed meticulously. Put that together with our great club’s key figures all pointing in the same direction and the worlds greatest fans behind them – who knows. Maybe we’ll just skip straight past the platform step.

Warrior Going On About?

Posted: April 22, 2011 by mcdonaldtaf in Business, Finance, Liverpool FC
Tags: , ,

This morning’s news that we’re on the verge of securing a new kit deal sparked a few twitter conversations and debates. Mainly because most people were wondering who the hell Warrior actually were. They may be better known in America; but over here a lot of people were sat scratching their heads.

Now the goods news is that, from a financial perspective, the deal looks to be very good. £25m per year blows away Manchester United and Nike’s record deal and will certainly help fill the coffers as Anfield. Coffers which may soon have the additional pressure of no European football, for at least one season.

If you look at the deal from a brand perspective though, it looks like a better deal for Warrior. They may be paying for the privilege, but I imagine they are quietly patting themselves on the back at such a coup. Attracting a joint venture with a brand as big as Liverpool FC.

I’m confident that FSG and the club know what they are doing. It is entirely plausible this is the right deal for the club, at the right time. The need to increase revenues outweighing the potential damage to the club’s brand. You see what we have is a match which doesn’t quite look right. Imagine Prince William marrying one of those daughters from my big fat gypsy wedding next week. Ok, maybe I’m being a little harsh. But the fact remains that Warrior have had to pay some big money to have the privilege of supplying our kits. (I’m sure if the Gypsy folk had the money they’d of tried tapping Wills up.)

When it comes to the leading marques in sport, even Warrior’s owners New Balance look like the poor relations. According to Wikipedia New Balance’s revenues total $1.55bn with 4,000 employees. Quite a sum, but when compared to Nike ($19bn and 34,000 employees) and Adidas ($12bn 42,000 employees) the gulf becomes very evident. In fairness New Balance’s figures were from 2006; but unless they doubled every year they’ll still be miles behind. [Update: I’m reliably informed New Balance’s current revenues are $1.65bn]

Then consider the branding work undertaken by the likes of Nike and Adidas. The flashy adverts, sponsorship deals and other brand associations place them clearly at the pinnacle of the sporting good manufacturers. The question is, should we be accepting an association with a company most reds had never heard of until this morning?

I’ve seen the comments of ‘who cares about branding’. To the core of the reds support based in the UK who makes the kit is not as important. But our world wide appeal is very important to the club’s future. There is also those casual kit buyers, of which I am one. If I see a nice Barcelona kit I buy it and it’s the same for international kits. Will we sell as many kits in the UK? Quite possibly. Are we likely to see a reduction in the number of kits sold abroad, especially if they don’t get the design right? Quite possibly.

Flagship brands have to associate themselves with other flagship brands. If they don’t then they run the risk of damaging their own brand.

Arsenal F.C. – O2 and Nike
Manchester United – AON and Nike
Chelsea – Samsung and Adidas
Liverpool – Standard Chartered and Warrior

Which name looks like the odd one out?

All may not be lost though. In much the same way as I said FSG should bring a fresh approach to Liverpool FC, maybe Warrior should bring a new approach to kit design. An approach which will see the fans more involved in the actual design of the kit. It has always puzzled me why the design of such a standard commodity as a football shirt has to be kept under cover and designed by a closed group.

It’s not an idea of my own, as Gareth Roberts (@robbohuyton) of Well Red Magazine first put the thought in my head. But maybe the new fans committee, which will branch out to large groups of fans, could play a key role in the design of the new kits. With a majority of fans having the final say when presented with a range of kits. The technology exists and the club already runs polls. Why can’t FSG (with Warrior) again take a different approach?

This is not a major disaster and like I say it is quite possibly the right decision, in the current circumstances. However it also feels like a downgrading of our kit supplier to me, even if we’re getting more money for that downgrading. The best should associate themselves with the best, this deal does not do that.

In 1959 Bill Shankly took on a task of behemoth proportions. One which was completed expediently and achieved so much more than simply seeing Liverpool Football Club returned to the top of the football pyramid. While many would see Livepool’s 6th title win in the 1963/64 season as a crowning achievement in itself, it was only the start. Shankly was laying the foundations for decades to come. Foundations which would be built upon by subsequent managers. Turning the club, as well as Anfield, into a fortress – a bastion of invincibility.

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One of this site’s readers made a comment about how NESV (now FSG) have raised ticket prices tremendously at Fenway Park following their investments into the Red Sox’ infrastructure and team. I must confess it is an area that concerns me in regards to Liverpool Football Club. So I decided to take a look at what the situation was before and since NESV’s takeover. But before I continue let me provide two caveats:

1. I know very little of Major League Baseball (MLB). During my research I became aware of a fans’ index, run by a website, which provides financial data on the average costs of going to a game. In short they take the total cost of a family’s tickets, beverages and other costs for a single game every year. It is this ‘fan costs index’ I have used for my research and it is used in good faith.

2. I am not saying that what has happened in America will or will not happen at Liverpool FC. I am simply studying NESV’s methods stateside which may (or may not) provide an indicator as to how they operate in this sensitive area of the business.

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We can only assume the risks of keeping Fernando Torres outweighed the benefits. In today’s modern football it is after all the players who usually hold all the cards. Had Torres’ performances deteriorated further, beyond the lacklustre, then it is possible any momentum gained recently could have stalled. Personally, I always felt we should have negotiated a deal which would have seen him leave in the summer; with the fee agreed in advance. Not being privy to all of the facts though it’s hard to make any judgement, which I accept.

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Surprisingly, no one started a book on the first real challenge John Henry and co. would face at Liverpool Football Club.  The odds would have been very short on stadium funding, newly surfacing fan frustration or financing problems. None of these would have been too surprising, given the preceding three years under American ownership. Although tarring Fenway Sports Group with the same brush as Hicks and Gillett would have proved unfair, based on their performance to date.

Some may of course point to the Hodgson era, as short-lived as it was, being a big test. Realistically though it wasn’t. There was no battle in the face of such damning evidence. The troubles faced under Hodgson were always going to be easier to fix compared to the loss of our talisman. In fact the removal of Hodgson and appointment of Dalglish were very good reasons for the odds on any player slapping in a transfer request lengthening.

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Trust. Such an important word and yet so often trodden all over in the pursuit of personal interest or greed.

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Cometh the hour…

Posted: January 9, 2011 by mcdonaldtaf in Manager Talk, Team Talk
Tags: , ,

I could go and find the specific date, but if I’m honest I don’t remember it. I don’t remember the date. I do remember the day. I remember where I stood, who I was with and who told me that Kenny Dalglish had stepped down as manager of Liverpool Football Club. Rushing inside to a friend’s house, even before the days when 24 hour news coverage had taken over our TV’s, it was everywhere. There I stood – 14 years old, in the house of a family of Manchester United supporters feeling lost.

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