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    Friday, 23 October 2020

    FSG merger could see Liverpool follow Man City and Red Bull Leipzig path

    Discussions over a possible merger with RedBall Acquisition could see Liverpool expand their reach

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

    It's an investment deal that could see Liverpool expand their European reach.

    FSG are in talks with American investment firm RedBall Acquisition over a possible merger that would see RedBall take a 25 per cent stake in the Reds in a deal that could see Liverpool publicly listed on the stock market with a value of more than £6bn for the new company.

    The brains behind RedBall are American financier Gerry Cardinale and Billy Beane, senior executive of the Oakland Athletics baseball team and the man whom the Hollywood film 'Moneyball' was all about.

    Both Cardinale and Beane are friends of FSG chief John Henry and both have a keen interest in statistical analysis in sport.

    Cardinale has already made his move into European football with the takeover of French Ligue 2 side Toulouse back in July under his Redbird FC (interesting choice of name) investment arm, the idea behind it to use the Moneyball approach, something which ties into his investment in Zelus Analytics, a firm which could be brought in to any possible merger with Liverpool.

    Beane is understood to be likely to take a leading role in any new venture and tasked with building the portfolio of European clubs under Cardinale's investment groups.

    This opens up the possibility of Liverpool walking a similar path to that of the Red Bull group who own RB Leipzig, Red Bull Salzburg, New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Bragantino, Red Bull Brasil and FC Liefering.

    For Red Bull the benefits of such a portfolio have reaped considerable financial reward with the clubs used to blood promising young talent in European football before moving them on to bigger clubs for a large fee - see Naby Keita's move from RB Leipzig to Liverpool and Erling Haaland's switch from Red Bull Salzburg to Borussia Dortmund.

    It is a model that has been replicated by the likes of Manchester City and Leicester City.

    Man City owners City Football Group have, since buying City in 2008 under the Abu Dhabi United Group, purchased controlling stakes in New York City FC, Melbourne City, Montevideo City Torque, Mumbai City, Lommel SK, Troyes AC and Spanish side Girona, as well as a minority stake in Japanese side Yokohama F. Marinos.

    Leicester owners King Power have also started to extend their reach into Europe with the purchase of Belgian lower league side OH Leuven.

    For Liverpool and FSG this seems like the natural progression as they move into a new decade under the American parent company's ownership, with new ventures and avenues being sought in what looks to be an unpredictable financial climate for football post COVID-19.

    The purchase of Toulouse by Cardinale's Redbird FC could see them brought in as part of any merger moving forward, the first step into uncharted territory for the Reds.

    And what would be the benefits to such a move for Liverpool in the future?

    The Reds would have the ability to send younger players out to European leagues and give them a grounding, thus enhancing their progression as well as their value at the same time. They either return to contribute or a profit is turned should they be moved on elsewhere.

    It is a model that has worked particularly well for Red Bull.

    RB Leipzig have managed to find their way to the top table in the Bundesliga and challenge the established order while also upsetting the apple cart with their creative approach to getting around Germany's 50+1 Rule in the top tier, where fan groups must have a controlling interest in the club.

    Leipzig's membership costs some £700 per year and membership requests can be rejected for any reason, with much of the few members they have being in employment by Red Bull.

    Salzburg, too, have managed to make a challenge to Europe's big guns, Liverpool themselves activating a release clause in the contract of Takumi Minamino while Haaland secured a big money move to Dortmund.

    The effort and money put into making RB Leipzig a success sees them at the top of the tree, the rest filtering into the model, the likes of Timo Werner being cashed in on while they are sure to do the same with Dayot Upamecano in the not too distant future.

    For Liverpool they would very much sit at the summit of any such venture by RedBall and FSG. It seems a natural progression as football edges it way towards a new era.

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