By Rob Harris
---- — Liverpool owners have been hit by a set of “painful” financial results that highlight the cost of investing heavily in players who have failed to re-establish the club as a force in England or Europe.
The debt at Liverpool was revealed Monday to have risen by a third to 87.2 million pounds (about $131 million), while losses of 40.5 million pounds (about $61 million) were accrued during the 2011-12 season.
“I take comfort in the fact that the work we have done, some of which costs us a lot of money in this period and beyond, looks pretty painful at the time,” managing director Ian Ayre said. “But as long as you invest in it and manage it in the right way, then hopefully it bears fruit as we go forward.”
There’s little prospect of Liverpool reaping riches from the Champions League next season, however, as the team languishes in seventh place in Premier League, outside of the top four qualification places.
The downbeat financial results demonstrate the minimal impact of having reached two domestic finals last season and ending a six-year title drought by winning the League Cup.
The five-time European champions were strong performers in the Champions League before slumping out of the group stage in 2009.
It was the eighth-place finish last season in a topflight division the club has won 18 times — a haul only surpassed by Manchester United — that bit so hard in the Anfield balance sheets and led to Kenny Dalglish losing his job as manager, replaced by Brendan Rodgers.
The cost of firing Dalglish was included in 9.5 million pounds (about $14 million) of “exceptional payments” during the 10 months to May 31, 2012 covered by these accounts.
Liverpool’s losses of 40.5 million pounds in the accounts covering a 10-month period were in line with the losses in the previous full year.
There was only a modest increase in turnover of 5 million pounds (about $7 million) from the 184 million pounds (about $275 million) reported for 2010-11. Man United’s revenue by comparison in 2011-12 hit 320 million pounds (about $480 million).
Heavy spending before the 2011-12 season — including more than $50 million on Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson — wasn’t replicated with an upturn in fortunes on the pitch.
Ayre accepts the club must “improve revenues and manage our cost base effectively.”
Principal owner John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group, which rescued the club from fellow Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. in 2010, injected 46.8 million pounds (about $70 million) into the club last season.
Liverpool also said Monday that it is in talks with Standard Chartered bank about extending its shirt sponsorship deal, which is worth about 20 million pounds a season ($30 million) and expires at the end of the 2013-14 campaign.