There wasn’t any place in the world as depressed as Liverpool F.C.’s Anfield on Feb. 21. The English soccer club suffered an enormous defeat in the round of 16 of the Champions League to its Spanish rival Real Madrid, which scored five goals within 90 minutes. Even though the second leg of the game will take place at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium on March 15, many people believe that Liverpool’s Champions League journey this season has already finished.
It hasn’t been an easy season for Liverpool. The Scouse team now ranks sixth in the Premier League, 21 points away from the current top team, Arsenal. The Reds have only won 11 out of 24 games and were eliminated from the FA Cup by Brighton. Considering that as recently as 2020, Liverpool won its 19th Premier League, soccer fans can’t help but ask: What happened to this team? What has so drastically changed within only two years?
Maybe we could find the answer on Twitter. The terrible performances brought Liverpool fans’ longtime dissatisfaction towards club owner John W. Henry and his company Fenway Sports Group (FSG) to a head. The hashtag #FSGout trended on social media in February. And in fact, this is not the first time Liverpudlians have been outraged: In 2021, fans protested at Anfield, hanging banners reading “Enough is Enough” and “Henry, You Have Blood on Your Hands.”
But, what is FSG? And why are the fans so desperate to drive FSG out of their beloved club?
FSG is an American multinational sports holding conglomerate first founded in 2001. Later, with the joint forces of its investors, it became the owner of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox and the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins. In October 2010, it successfully bought Liverpool F.C. from its previous stingy owners, George N. Gillett Jr. and Tom Hicks.
When FSG bought Liverpool, its principal owner Henry made his high ambitions for the team’s future clear.
“We’re here to win,” Henry said. “We are committed first and foremost to winning. We have a history of winning, and today we want Liverpool supporters to know that this approach is what we intended to bring to this club.”
Fairly speaking, FSG did bring some changes to Liverpool, including winning the 2012 League Cup — the first for the Reds since 2006. However, as the saying goes, “History always repeats itself.” Like Liverpool’s former owners, FSG also hasn’t invested sufficiently.
According to The Times, Liverpool’s net spend is the lowest among the Big 6 Premier League clubs (Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham) since the 2016-17 season. The Reds only spent around 240 million pounds in total, hugely contrasting its deadly foe Manchester United, which spent an astonishing 780 million pounds.
Under such circumstances, the transfer window is always a tough ordeal for Liverpool. Take this season’s windows as an example: While teams such as Manchester United and Chelsea spent an extraordinary amount of money on talents such as Antony and Enzo Fernandez, Liverpool could only afford one transfer deal each window — namely, striker and left winger Darwin Nunez in the summer and attacker Cody Gakpo this winter.
The club’s tight budget doesn’t allow them to buy more players in order to solve the team’s ongoing problems. A qualified midfielder has been urgently needed since last season, but the club simply doesn’t have enough money to make a bid. And this partially leads to Liverpool’s failures on the field.
Therefore it’s no wonder why Liverpool fans want to get rid of FSG as soon as possible. There was a tiny hope this winter when rumors whispered that there would be a potential takeover for FSG. However, Henry recently confirmed that he will not sell Liverpool this year. After his declaration, some fans reacted pessimistically. “Let’s be real, we’re never going anywhere with FSG”, wrote a Liverpool supporter on social media. What and where is the future of Liverpool? Maybe only time will tell.