Choose Wisely – Liverpool v Union Saint-Gilloise’s Transfer Strategies
In this post, we examine the transfer models of both Liverpool and their Irish-influenced Europa League opponents Union Saint-Gilloise.
How To Watch Liverpool v Union Saint-Gilloise
When: 8 pm, Thursday, October 5th.
Where? Anfield, Liverpool
TV Channel: TNT Sports 1
Liverpool v Union Saint-Gilloise Odds
|Liverpool v Union Saint-Gilloise Betting Odds|
Here at BoyleSports, we are urging bettors to not just bet but to choose wisely. Betting is all about choices and so is football too. And that is especially true when it comes to transfer market signings.
Choose Wisely – Transfer and Development Strategies
Liverpool and Union Saint-Gilloise take to the Europa League stage again on Thursday Night at Anfield. Both teams have been widely acclaimed for their business choosing wisely in the Transfer Market in recent seasons, but who has been wiser?
In the red corner we have Liverpool Football Club.
Fenway purchase Liverpool
Liverpool has been owned by Fenway Sports Group, since taking over the club in October 2010, a consortium run and owned by John W. Henry a US businessman most famous for his ownership of the Boston Red Sox.
Despite their success as a group elsewhere, the early years were not an example of the gluttony of success that would soon follow. However, from 2010 to 2015 aside from a League Cup victory in the 2011-2012 season, Liverpool were merely an afterthought among the trifecta of a Sir Alex Ferguson-led Manchester United, big spenders Chelsea and new financial heavyweights on the block Manchester City.
Klopp Key Found
Jurgen Klopp who had previously found success with Borussia Dortmund was announced as Liverpool manager on 8 October 2015 replacing Brendan Rodgers. Thus, this turned out to be the smartest choice the club would make in decades.
El País reported that Liverpool co-owner John W. Henry did not trust public opinion to decide who the manager would be. Thus, he decided to use a mathematical model as they did with their Moneyball method to guide the Boston Red Sox to success
The modeller turned out to be Cambridge physicist Ian Graham, who was used to not just select Klopp but also the players needed to win the Champions League. In his first interview he promised success in his first four years and called himself ‘The Normal One’ in a parody of José Mourinho’s famous ‘The Special One’ statement in 2004.
Even for the author of this post (who is a Manchester United fan who dislikes Klopp immensely), it would be unfair to call Klopp’s tenure at Liverpool a massive success since his appointment in 2015.
Liverpool in the last eight seasons have won eight trophies including, The Premier League in 19/20, FA Cup in 21/22 and the Champions League in 18/19. It could’ve been even better though having lost four finals including the Champions League in 17/18 and 21/22. That is before you mention their Premier League dominance only to fall victim to the imperious cash-rich Manchester City.
Since Klopp took charge in October of the 15/16 season, eight full seasons have taken place with the club’s average league position being 4.125 in the league.
The bedrock of Liverpool’s success these last eight seasons or so under Klopp has come from consistently choosing wisely in the Transfer market. That’s no surprise given the fact that John W. Henry was a practitioner and follower of the Moneyball method with his Boston Red Sox team.
(For reasons later in this article, this post will look at their transfer business from 19/20-23/24).
Per TransferMarkt if you examine the current Premier League club’s Transfer Activity the Five Years every club has made a financial loss from their transfer business aside from Brighton who’ve made a net profit of €92.26m. However, Liverpool are substantially the best financial performer aside from Brighton having made a relatively mundane loss of €14.18m from their transfer business.
Don’t let that fool you, since Klopp’s been in charge of Liverpool he has been allowed to sign 37 players for the club, for a total transfer outlay of:€933,500,000 for an average transfer fee per player of €30,112,903. Which can’t be considered a non-significant sum of money by any reckoning.
Wise Wage Structure
While Transfer fees gain the bulk of public attention, the single biggest indicator of success in football is a football club’s wage budget and not the transfer fees they spend on players (unless you’re Manchester United that is).
If you look at the data available, Liverpool in the 22/23 season who finished fifth in the table following an excellent second half to the season was the fourth best-paid team in the league. Per FootyStats their Average Salary was €7,997,113 per annum with a Total Payroll of €151,945,150 this was only less than Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.
The club finished where they should’ve (more or less).
However, Per Spotrac (the most recent available data) Liverpool’s wage bill this season is 5/20 teams with an Estimated Total Salary – of £155,331,244. Currently second in the table, if they continue their blistering start to the season, the wages will have been wisely spent.
So what about their opponents in the Europa League this Thursday?
In the blue corner we have Union Saint-Gilloise.
A name very familiar to followers of the Premier League Brighton Owner Tony Bloom was officially announced as having taken over Belgian club Saint Gilloise (the country’s third most successful club) on the 21st of May 2018 in what proved to be the turning point in the club’s fortunes following years in the doldrums.
On the day the deal was confirmed, Saint Gilloise president Jurgen Baatszsch said: “We are delighted to welcome Tony Bloom as a new investor to the club.
“Tony has a tremendous passion for football and a great understanding of the game. His investment comes at an exciting time for the club as we prepare to move back into our newly renovated stadium.
To say the club has improved its fortunes under Bloom would be a catastrophic understatement. Following the end of the 2020-2021 season the club were promoted for the first time in 48 years. Following their promotion, they finished 1st as newcomers in the regular season before finishing 2nd in the Championship round. Fast forward a year and they remained battling at the top of the table along with reaching the Quarter Final of the 2023 Europa League.
However, following Brighton’s Europa Qualification, UEFA regulations meant Bloom had to step back from the club resulting in him becoming a minority shareholder. However, there is an Irishman involved at the club, who will ensure success continues at the club. Limerick Native Chris O’Loughlin.
SCOUTING SERIES 2 WEEK 3: Sporting Director
Name: Chris O'Loughlin
Current Role: Sporting Director
Club: Union Saint-Gilloise
Previous Roles (Selected):
Supersport United (acad)
Melbourne Victory Assistant
Charlton Athletic Assistant pic.twitter.com/shgvl21q8N
— Irish Football Blog (@BlogIrish) October 1, 2023
Chris O’Loughlin was born in Limerick to a father from Belfast and a Scottish mother he moved to South Africa when he was a young child. However, he subsequently returned to the island playing for Cliftonville and Larne youth sides before injury cut his playing career.
While he didn’t have an initial interest in coaching, while working in a bank he completed his UEFA B license before later working for his A license with the Northern Ireland FA. He subsequently held coaching positions in South Africa, Australia, England and Belgium before being appointed as Sporting Director of Royale Union Saint-Gilloise on 24 May 2019 and he has been an integral part of their re-rise as a football club in the last four years.
Thinking Differently in the Transfer Market
The club are very shrewd in their transfer business before Loughlin took on the role of Sporting Director in 19/20 their record transfer fee paid and received were both in and around the 480K which is nothing compared to the astronomical fees we see involved today.
In terms of their business, they’ve operated an all-most one-in, one-out policy where they buy cheap and young and sell slightly older for substantially more.
Transfers Record 19/20-23/24 season
Arrivals – 68 – 13.6 Per Window – Cost €21.2 Million – Average Age – 23.04
Departures – 77 – 15.4 Per Window – Income €54.7 Million – Average Age – 24.6
The fruits of their wise business have paid homage in the 23/24 window where the club were able to generate a net profit of over €20 million. Their club strategy is nothing short of brilliant, recruiting from the likes of League 1 in England, the fourth division in Germany, Free Agents and more it’s clear they think of things differently.
“data is used but emphasis is put on qualities not seen on spreadsheets…We’ve a value system” Loughlin notes players who’ve overcome adversity like tough injuries or players who have risen through the divisions as noteworthy.
What about wages?
Union aren’t just shrewd with their transfer fees and signings.
The same principle extends to wage bill.
Before Union got promoted they didn’t have the highest wage bill not to mind in the Pro League.
Union preaches financial stability as well as their values off the field. pic.twitter.com/GTgZWZ3QDl
— Irish Football Blog (@BlogIrish) October 1, 2023
As stated above, wages are the single biggest indicator of success, and this is where the club shines brightest! Before the club were promoted to the Pro League, their wage bill wasn’t near the biggest spenders in the division.
Following their promotion, they’ve remained arguably the shrewdest wage spenders in Europe. PerFootyStats Annual Salaries by Teams in the Pro League, Union only have the 11th highest wage bill from the 18 teams in the division, an Average Salary of €182,029 per annum and a Total Payroll of €4,732,745. While qualifying for the later stages of Europe last season along with competing at the top of their division.
While Liverpool is the bigger club, competing in a league with more money involved and far larger economies of scale, it’s all about relativity when comparing the two clubs. Both teams are competing at the top of their leagues, both teams are competing in Europe and both teams’ fortunes have considerably changed through wise decision-making. But Union have a payroll of roughly €151 million less than Liverpool!
Verdict: Liverpool are wise, but Union Saint-Gilloise are even wiser!
If you have enjoyed this post, you’ll probably enjoy our post “Choose Wisely – A Look At Man United vs. Brighton’s Decade of Spending”
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