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Inside Lebron James' Liverpool and FSG deal that spawned a soccer investment rush from the USA

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers wearing a Liverpool FC jersey and Maverick Carter attends the game between Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks at Crypto.com Arena on March 8, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.
-Credit: (Image: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)


LeBron James is now far from the only US athlete with an investment in UK soccer. But when he first took a stake in Liverpool in 2011, it was a major novelty.

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Agreed shortly after FSG had become the owners of Liverpool, James was awarded a two per cent stake in the club as part of a marketing deal with the Boston-based group, per The Athletic. At the time, it was valued at around $6m (£4.7m/€5.5m).

He technically got rid of those shares in 2022, trading them in for a one per cent stake in the overall FSG empire, including the Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Penguins and a share in the NASCAR team RFK Racing. The Mirror reported that his Liverpool shares had increased in value by approximately $45m (£35m/€31m) by the time he divested himself of them.

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Taking up the stake in FSG alongside long-time business partner Maverick Carter, LeBron has balanced his business interests with his continuing playing career in the NBA. But that could be the site of an even deeper connection with the Liverpool owners in future, amid long-running plans for the basketball legend to front an expansion franchise in Las Vegas on behalf of John Henry's group.

In the meantime, James has increased his stake in FSG by an unspecified amount. This again came as a result of a marketing partnership, with Fenway Sports Management extending its deal with LeBron into a lifetime arrangement. That gives the Liverpool owners the right to 'secure exclusive, global marketing and sponsorship opportunities' for the US sports icon.

LeBron has been a more visible part of the Liverpool operation in recent years, with the club releasing two 'LFC x LeBron' merchandise ranges alongside Nike. Featuring soccer and basketball gear with crossover branding, it has proved to be a commercial hit.

And plenty of others have now followed his example. At Birmingham City, Tom Brady offers much the same star power — although his stake is much more nominal, with his 330 'Class B' shares worth just 3.3 pence (2.6 cents). The club just suffered relegation to the third tier of English football.

JJ Watt also saw his team relegated this season. He and his wife Kealia, once of the USWNT, have a stake in Burnley. Meanwhile, the Leeds side that narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League is now backed by a host of famous names from both Hollywood and US sports, including Jordan Spieth and Russell Westbrook.

Since LeBron upped his stake, FSG have also led a massive investment into the PGA Tour, as well as a virtual golf competition set up by Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. When he first got that two per cent in Liverpool in 2011, James surely could not have foreseen how the relationship would evolve.

Liverpool.com says: James' involvement with Liverpool and FSG has proved mutually beneficial. The club has certainly made the most of his massive name recognition in recent years in an attempt to further crack the US market, while LeBron himself has done well financially out of the association, as well as bolstering his personal brand in the UK.

The next chapter with FSG looks likely to be an NBA franchise. And with the Liverpool owners' sports management wing having secured that lifetime deal with James, we can expect the partnership to continue flourishing for a long time to come.