Growing up my two sporting loves were the English Premier League and the NBA. Always having a soft spot for greatness, it’s natural that Liverpool FC and Lebron James are two of my favourite participants. When I heard the news that Lebron was going to be involved in ownership at Liverpool, I just had to know more.
Does Lebron James own Liverpool FC? In 2011 NBA superstar Lebron James invested in Liverpool FC. He paid $6.5 million dollars for a 2% share in the legendary English Premier League club. Forbes currently value the club at $2.2 Billion, the 8th most valuable Soccer team in the world. Making James’ 2% share worth approximately $44 Million.
How involved is Lebron James in Liverpool FC?
Despite only being a minority share holder at 2%, Lebron clearly see’s this as more than just a financial investment. During the 2019 European Cup Final, where Liverpool secured their historic 6th European Cup title he was Tweeting throughout. This showed his passion, his nerves, his understanding of the culture (#YNWA) and his congratulations when they finally won. Lebron James is more than just a part owner in Liverpool FC, he’s a legitimate fan.
James’ completed this transaction through his marketing firm, LRMR, going into business with Fenway Sports Partners. The year before in 2010, Fenway Sports Partners had bought Liverpool FC for $477 million, which even at the time was seen as an absolute steal. Fenway Sports Partners is owned (as you might guess) by Boston Red Sox owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner. After the sale of rivals Manchester Utd to the Glazers is 2005, and the immediate saddling of the club with debt, followed by the relative lack of team success since. There was a lot of scepticism about this takeover. Given Liverpool’s meteoric rise on the pitch and subsequent sky rocketing in value, those fears seem unfounded. They are however, yet to return to the glory days of the early 90’s and win their next League title.
How did the deal come to be?
The specifics of the deal are not entirely clear. It is centred around the rights to Lebron James global representation and marketing. The deal which saw Lebron gain 2% of Liverpool FC also saw a partnership created by Fenway Sports Partners and Lebron’s marketing firm LRMR.
Press released at the time expressed the mutual benefit all parties involved would gain from their partnership.
“We believe this will be a powerful collaboration between FSM and LRMR and LeBron. There are very few athletes who can match his global reach, appeal and iconic status, we are very excited that LeBron will be part of the Liverpool FC family. LeBron and Liverpool each has a powerful presence internationally, with particular strength in Asia, but we feel the business opportunities for both working and being identified together in emerging international markets will result in unforeseen opportunities that neither would have been able to realize alone.” – Tom Werner on the deal in 2011.
“I am thrilled to be working with John Henry and Tom Werner. These guys, like me, have a passion for sports. You can see the drive and commitment they have for their teams. For me, this is about being in business with an organization that loves sports as much as I do.” – Lebron James, 2011
“Tom and John have created an innovative company that owns some of the greatest clubs and biggest brands in all of sports. Like LRMR, it is a fast-growing organization with incredible energy and passion for what they’re doing. This partnership will allow us to dramatically expand our reach and opportunities, not only in the U.S. but in markets around the world.” – Maverick Carter, LRMR CEO, 2011.
Whatever the true nature of the deal, estimated value of the shares at time or what future opportunities the partnership has yielded so far. It’s clear, that since joining forces in 2011 all parties concerned have gone from strength to strength in all their endeavours.
Has Lebron James ever watched a Liverpool game at Anfield?
Yes. Lebron wasted no time in attending a match at Liverpool. In 2011 before the deal was even complete, he was lucky enough to watch Liverpool draw 1-1 with their biggest rivals Manchester United. He spent 2 days in and around the club and city, gushing about the passion of the fans and history of the club. Comparing them to the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees. He clearly believed there was plenty of winning left to do at Anfield and with the club present in the last two European cup finals, winning one he has been proven right.
What other NBA stars own major sports clubs?
The most obvious is Thee GOAT, Michael Jordan, who owns his home town NBA franchise the Charlotte Hornets. Becoming part owner in 2006 and majority owner in 2010 he now gets to call the shots. His first order of business was getting their name back. So long Bobcats.
In 2013 THE Big Diesel himself, Shaquille O’Neal, purchased an approximate 3% share in the Sacramento King’s. He hasn’t been able to help them achieve the same level of success he did on the court though. He famously got tripped up in 2017 for not knowing who was on their 27 win roster. Can you blame him? In his prime he’d have had 27 wins before Christmas.
In 2012 Magic Johnson along with Peter Guber, Stan Kasten, and Mark Walter invested in the LA Dodgers. It is also believed that he is a minority owner in the Lakers.
Yao Ming is the owner of the lesser known, Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. He is extremely wealthy and prior to them being taken off the market had shown interest in investing in the Clippers.