Everyone is talking about Liverpool and who might be taking over them. With quotes coming directly from the CEO of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) that it wouldn’t be a surprise if they buy a football club soon, there are a lot of people believing that QIA must have their eyes on Liverpool.
But there’s not much more about QIA here. So we thought we’d put together a quick article to help our readers understand a little bit more about the organisation.
What is QIA?
Qatar Investment Authority is a sovereign wealth fund for the State of Qatar. Their website says that “diversification is key to our approach and our investments span many different markets, asset classes, sectors and geographies. We partner with leading institutions around the world to seek out global growth opportunities that will create value for the State and future generations.”
Who owns QIA?
As with most sovereign funds, the QIA is wholly owned and subject to supervision by the Government of the State of Qatar. That means that the ultimate owner of QIA is the emir (leader) of Qatar – in this case, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Is this the same organisation who owns Paris Saint Germain (PSG)?
PSG are owned by another sovereign fund – Qatar Sports Investments (QSI). QSI’s leader is their Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi; known to most football fans as the President of PSG Football Club.
Despite both being ultimately owned by the State of Qatar, QSI and QIA are different funds altogether. This means that they have different people running the different funds and are completely different organisations in their own right.
Another example of this type of business structure is through Unilever. Unilever owns multiple different brands including the likes of Wall’s Ice Cream, Dove, Ben & Jerry’s, Lipton and many more besides. Each of these companies have their own organisational structure but still are owned by the same parent company at the top.
So PSG and Liverpool wouldn’t have the same owners?
If QIA took over Liverpool, then the ownership would not be the same as that of PSG. So the club directors would be completely separate and not be sharing their ownership model with each other.
This is different to what Manchester City have through the City Football Group, whose corporate structure does mean that they completely own the likes of Manchester City, New York City, Melbourne City and Girona FC to name but a few. So the case of what Manchester City’s owners have created would be different to what the State of Qatar would have if QIA brought Liverpool.
QIA have been linked to Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Why would they be more interested in Liverpool?
Liverpool would be a more appealing proposition to the QIA compared to the other two clubs for differing reasons.
In the case of Manchester United, there are two primary issues at hand. The first is the massive debt that the club has. As of writing, Manchester United Football Club are in over £500m of debt. That’s a huge amount of money owed to outside parties compared to Liverpool, who have very little debt in relative terms. The second is that there would need to be a lot of investment in parts of the club outside of the first team including the training squad, training facilities, stadium upgrades and other infrastructure (things that both the likes of Gary Neville and Cristiano Ronaldo have pointed out recently).
In terms of Tottenham Hotspur, there are also two primary issues. The first is that Spurs need a huge outlay on signings for their first team squad in almost every position. Liverpool already have world class players in the squad that Tottenham do not have, outside of Harry Kane. Furthermore Liverpool as a brand are massive compared to Spurs’ relatively smaller reach, with Liverpool FC known pretty much around the world as a premium footballing organisation.
In both cases, Liverpool have substantial appeal compared to the other two clubs in separate ways.
How complex would it be for QIA to buy Liverpool?
It’s common knowledge know that Fenway Sports Group (FSG) are looking to sell the club to new owners. So in theory, the sale wouldn’t be that complex if QIA offered FSG the amount that they are looking for. As long as both parties are happy with the terms and conditions of sale, there wouldn’t likely be many complexities in the purchase.
There would be the Premier League’s fit-and-proper-person test that would need to be done. So there is potential that this could be a reason for a holdup. However, there’s very few organisations that fail this test. So even if there are a few hurdles likely here, there isn’t anything that we think would be too complex.
Will it be a full or partial takeover?
Both of these are options on the table right now. There are rumours on both sides of the argument and we’ve seen multiple different takeover methods in the Premier League before.
For example, at Arsenal and Manchester United, the current owners (Stan Kroenke and the Glazer family) initially were minority stakeholders before they purchased majority shares. That is something that could happen and would mean a partial takeover.
However, if you look at most investment into the Premier League from the Middle East, they’ve tended to be more of a complete and full takeover as seen in the likes of Manchester City and Newcastle United.
So we would assume that it would be the same in this instance.
What would be the cost for QIA?
That would really be a question for FSG. However, with Chelsea being sold for around $3bn, you’d expect Liverpool to sell for more than that. So we’d expect around $4bn would be needed for that conversation to get going.
We hope that article helps you understand who QIA are, why they’re interested in Liverpool and how it can happen. Feel free to share your thoughts on QIA potentially taking over Liverpool in the comments box below.