LeBron James now owns a piece of one of England’s legendary soccer clubs. James has reached a deal with Fenway Sports Group (FSG), the majority owner of Liverpool FC, essentially merging his marketing company into FSG’s marketing arm and being paid a part of the club for doing so, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The deal between Mr. James and Fenway Sports Group will give Mr. James a minority stake in the soccer club Liverpool, which FSG owns. FSG, which also owns the Boston Red Sox, is partnering with Mr. James’s sports-marketing firm, LRMR Branding & Marketing to become the exclusive world-wide representative for Mr. James. The deal marks the first time that a professional athlete at the top of his game has taken an ownership interest in a team with the size and reach of Liverpool, which is one of the most popular and powerful sports franchises in the world
Right now there are a handful of very conflicted Liverpool fans in Cleveland.
While Manchester United is the biggest international name out of English soccer, Liverpool is right there in the second tier with Chelsea and Arsenal. Liverpool is a powerful brand name and the English Premiere League is an international brand of its own, maybe the most popular soccer league world wide (even if the German Bundesliga has the best soccer right now). That makes this a smart investment move by James in his quest to be a global business icon.
Liverpool has not done quite that well in the standings as they are currently a disappointing sixth (Liverpool fans have Lakers fans level expectations, so you can imagine how well sixth is sitting with them). Liverpool isn’t making a late charge up the standings with Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson out for the rest of the season. Liverpool finished seventh last season, so there is a pressure to turn things around.
The reaction to this move among the working class Liverpool faithful could be interesting.
FSG also owns the Boston Red Sox, but they are not directly involved in this deal. FSG and principal John Henry just bought Liverpool last October for $488 million (from Tom Hicks, former owner of the Texas Rangers). Part of FSG is Fenway Sports Management, which has sold advertising marketed venues before but LeBron becomes its first person as a client.