Last June, Forbes said Liverpool was the eighth-most valuable soccer team in the world at a value of $1.49 billion. But the trip to the UEFA Champions League final will guarantee an award of more than $100 million to Liverpool. One sports investment banker told ESPN that given the team’s rise to prominence combined with its history, which includes the second-most titles in English soccer (18), the team could be sold today conservatively for $1.6 billion. That means James’ investment has grown nearly five times ($6.5 million to $32 million) in seven years.
Sources said James received a 2 percent stake in Liverpool in April 2011, when his marketing firm, LRMR, agreed to a joint venture with Fenway Sports Partners. Fenway Sports Partners is owned by Boston Red Sox owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner, who bought Liverpool for a bargain $477 million in October 2010. The Liverpool owners at the time, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, were looking to get $954 million for the highly levered club. Sources said James’ 2 percent piece, which he still retains, was given to him in lieu of roughly $6.5 million.
NBA superstar LeBron James has promised Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and his teammates an unforgettable holiday in Las Vegas along with good friend and pop star Kanye West, but only if the Reds manage to win some silverware this season. The Miami Heat ace recalled a conversation with Gerrard in the summer about how he could reward a successful campaign. “I spent some time with Steven Gerrard and he is passionate about his team. Everybody in sport needs incentive and if the guys at Liverpool win something this year I will give them the best weekend of their life in Vegas. Kanye is in and trust me, nobody does Vegas like LeBron and Kanye,” the Sun quoted James, as saying. “We will take them to places in Vegas 99 per cent of people don’t even know exist. There is Vegas and then there is Vegas,” he added.
If he declines to confirm the exact size of his small stake in Liverpool, James warms to the idea that, like him, the club is in passionate pursuit of a long-lost championship. It has been over 20 years since Liverpool won their last league title; while James is still chasing his first NBA championship ring after eight seasons. “It definitely gives me another incentive to be part of that team. They’re striving to be a champion and I’m striving to do the same. It would be great if we could do it in the same year.”
Last week, LeBron finally paid a visit to the club’s headquarters to meet with gaffer Kenny Dalglish, star Steven Gerrard, and gothic monster Dirk Kuyt. It was mostly a photo op, except James also paid tribute to his pseudo-employees by giving everyone Beats by Dre headphones. Those things aren’t cheap, but then again, footballers aren’t exactly hard up for cash. The weirdest part, though, is that he gifted several signed “James” Heat jerseys. That’s normal, I suppose, except that Gerrard returned the favor with a personalized LIverpool kit. Why was LeBron so impersonal? Did he not have the time to make a No. 8 Gerrard Jersey? Or would the NBA not give him one during the lockout?