In an interview with the Liverpool Echo, Sir Martin Broughton spoke about the dark days in 2010 when Liverpool FC came close to financial collapse. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool Football Club is likely to be worth around £2bn, the man who brokered the deal to save the club from collapse a decade ago has said.
Sir Martin Broughton was installed as chairman of the club in April 2010 by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) as it tried to wrest control away from US businessmen Tom Hicks ands George Gillett in a bitter boardroom struggle.
He eventually brokered the deal which saw the club sold to Fenway Sports Group (FSG), owned by another US tycoon John W Henry, in a £300m deal. They joined the Boston Red Sox baseball team as part of the FSG stable.
In an interview with the Liverpool Echo, Sir Martin talked about those dark days and how close Liverpool FC came to collapsing into administration, almost unthinkable for a club with such an illustrious history.
Hicks and Gillett owed RBS £237m and the loans were being renewed on a weekly basis. Sir Martin explained: “That is almost unheard of. It was a serious financial crisis. However, the reason it was being renewed on a weekly basis because Hicks and Gillett understood, and the banks understood hat to put Liverpool into administration would make front page headlines… there was no willingness to pull the trigger.”
FSG completed the takeover in October 2010 and set in motion a new era of growth and stability for English football’s most successful club. Investment in top players such as striker Mo Salah, defender Virgil van Dijk and goalkeeper Allison Becker, and the inspired appointment of manager Jurgen Klopp, have seen the glory days return.
Having won the Champions League for the sixth time in 2019 with victory over Tottenham, Liverpool are now just a few points away from clinching their first league title for 30 years and their first-ever in the Premier League era. FSG have also overseen the rebuilding of the main stand.
Sir Martin said FSG was a perfect for Liverpool. He added: “For me, the fact that they understood sport, understood the tradition, understood the history, understood what it meant to fans, had been there, done it, invested, built a serious winning team (Red Sox). That really showed me there looked like they had the cultural fit.
“I think they have been very astute in their market dealings . They’ve brought in an outstanding array of players but they have been bringing through an outstanding array of players, as well.”
Sir Martin is regarded as a hero by many Reds fans given his role in rescuing the club from Hicks and Gillett and he says it is one of the best deals he has ever been involved in. He believes the estimated £2bn value some have placed on the club is probably about right.
“I would have thought that kind of valuation would be reasonable in today’s market,” he said. “These things can go in cycles… Fenway got their timing absolutely right.”