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    Tuesday, 3 November 2020

    Donald Trump defeat could accelerate FSG merger plans for Liverpool

    The potential for a new White House administration could speed up RedBall deal

    Gerry Cardinale is the man behind potential FSG Liverpool merger with RedBall Acquisitions.

    The American public will head to the polling stations today (Tuesday, November 3) to determine their future.

    Whether it is four more years of Donald Trump or a new administration led by Joe Biden the in tray on day one will likely be pretty full as they wrangle with the effects of coronavirus.

    Fenway Sports Group and RedBall Acquisitions will be watching the developments with interest, the decision of just who becomes President of the USA is something that will have a knock-on effect on their plans for both Liverpool and the Boston Red Sox.

    To lay things out, the plans are still moving forward for the potential £6bn deal between John Henry's FSG and the Gerry Cardinale and Billy Beane-led RedBall, and that likely won't change whoever heads into the White House.

    But how quickly a deal materialises may well change, certainly if, as has been widely suggested, Biden becomes America's next President.

    Biden, who served as Vice-President under the Barack Obama administration, has previously stated that he would seek to raise capital gains tax, one radical proposal being to raise it from 23.8 per cent to 43.4 per cent. Enough to make Henry, Cardinale and Beane et al think about making their big deals sooner rather than later.

    Speaking to the ECHO, Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith College in Boston, Massachusetts, and member of the editorial board of the Journal of Sports Economics, explained that a potential hike in capital gains tax could accelerate some deals, although stressed that legislation in the event of a Biden victory would still give a fairly wide window of opportunity.

    "A motivation in the United States is to take some of the capital gain that John Henry and Tom Werner have experienced and realise that capital gain prior to the, hopefully, new administration that comes in January," Zimbalist said.

    "Joe Biden has talked about raising tax rates, which were lowered substantially under Trump. Therefore you want to be able to realise your capital gain before that tax rate was lifted."

    There had been suggestions that the FSG/RedBall deal could be completed before the end of 2020, although any change in legislation in the USA would take sometime to push through given the more pressing matters at hand with COVID-19.

    "If Biden wins then he would become President on January 20 and it would take some time before he would introduce capital gains legislation," explained Zimbalist.

    "There are some more pressing issues that he has to deal with. Once he introduces the legislation it would take a couple of months until it was passed and then it most likely wouldn't be enforced until the following year, meaning January 1 of 2022.

    "That window might close more quickly but it also might be open for another 14 months, roughly."

    The merger between FSG and RedBall, who would seek to take a stake of around 25 per cent of the company, would likely see them publicly listed, the business valued at around £6bn when you take into account its interests in the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool, Fenway Park itself and NASCAR team Roush Fenway Racing.

    The ability to generate cash through share sales would enable them to bring money into the business in the midst of a pandemic and continue to be able to invest in infrastructure and maintaining success on the field.

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