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FSG avoided big mistake after Liverpool Champions League final win

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Fenway Sports Group would never claim to be perfect in their ownership of Liverpool.

Less than a fortnight ago, Reds chairman Tom Werner admitted the club had made a "mistake" by briefly seeking to use the Government's job retention scheme after placing some non-playing staff on furlough in April following the coronavirus outbreak.

There have been other high-profile errors during their near-decade in charge at Anfield.

More often than not, though, FSG have made the right call, particularly during the last few years.

And their increasingly progressive steps and profitable forward-planning ensured they were ideally placed to reap the rewards when, 12 months ago today, Liverpool claimed the Champions League with victory over Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid.

Certainly, there was to be no repeat of the blunders that hampered the Reds capitalising on past successes.

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Infamously, the club souvenir shop was closed when Liverpool won their fifth European Cup in Istanbul in 2005.

The Reds were slow to make the most of that opportunity, a time when they were still reluctant to fully embrace the commercialism that irks the traditionalists but has become an accepted part of modern football.

Not so this time. For a start, the commercial side of the club was primed to capitalise on the increased demand for merchandise.

The long-term approach in the transfer window meant Klopp was able to keep his team together, pick up the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, and move Liverpool to within two wins of the Premier League title.

Liverpool were proactive rather than reactive. And then there were the grander gestures.

Tom Werner, Mike Gordon and John Henry of Liverpool with the Champions League trophy (Image: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

John Henry, Mike Gordon and Werner were all at the Wanda Metropolitano last year and would have been aware Reds supporters far outnumbered their Tottenham counterparts in the bars and squares around the Spanish capital.

And they'll have seen the estimated 750,000 who lined the streets of Liverpool to welcome home their all-conquering heroes.

Yet this season, Tottenham have a higher average home attendance than Liverpool, as do Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and even West Ham United.

Events in and around Madrid, though, persuaded FSG to give the green light to plans to redevelop the Anfield Road End and push the capacity up to 61,000 and give Liverpool the third-biggest club stadium in England behind Old Trafford and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Current events have delayed the start of construction by 12 months, but the desire is obvious. And in the meantime, the new training facility at Kirkby is approaching completion.

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FSG have also agreed, albeit after a court case, a lucrative new kit deal with Nike that will further increase the presence of the brand. Liverpool will complete the campaign wearing New Balance before the change is made.

Defeat on the return to Wanda Metropolitano in February went a long way towards ending Liverpool's defence of the Champions League.

That, though, has been a rare step backwards in the forward progress during the past year.

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