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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Liverpool confirm Michael Edwards returns in new role – with sporting director plan in place

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Football

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Michael Edwards has sealed his return to Liverpool FC after being appointed as CEO of football for Fenway Sports Group.

The former sporting director, who left Anfield in 2022, will take charge of football operations in a restructure and will be charged with appointing a new sporting director – expected to be Richard Hughes – as Liverpool plan for life after Jurgen Klopp.

Edwards, who will resign from his sporting consultancy Ludonautics on 1 June, has rejected offers from clubs including Manchester United and Chelsea in the last two years.

But he was always owners FSG’s first choice to return to Anfield and discussions began after Klopp’s January announcement that he would stand down in the summer while talks were held in Boston last week.

Edwards will take over responsibility for day-to-day decision making on football matters from FSG president Mike Gordon, who remains on the board but intends to reduce his involvement in football.

While the next sporting director will be charged with finding Klopp’s replacement – with Bayer Leverkusen’s Xabi Alonso the favourite – it will represent the biggest decision in Liverpool’s immediate future.

But Edwards’ job could also entail taking charge of a second club with FSG allowing him to identify a second club to add to their portfolio.

Liverpool believe Edwards will bring a continuity of philosophy that, together with his knowledge of the club and his role in the past, will help smooth the transition to life after Klopp.

FSG wanted to bring back a trusted executive with a track record of success while, as part of their restructure, Theo Epstein has been reappointed advisor for Boston RedSox and their expanding sports portfolio.

Edwards’ relationship with Hughes dates back to their time at Portsmouth, when they were data analyst and midfielder respectively. Hughes announced last week that he would leave his post as Bournemouth’s director of football.

Upon the announcement of his return, Edwards said:

“I am very grateful to Mike, John, Tom and the ownership group for offering me the opportunity to take on this new leadership role within FSG. I was humbled by the desire and persistence they showed in wanting to work with me again. This is definitely not something that I take for granted given their track record across sport and business.

“It was vital for me that, if I did return, it had to be with renewed vigour and energy. In practice, this means having fresh challenges and opportunities. As such, one of the biggest factors in my decision is the commitment to acquire and oversee an additional club, growing this area of their organization. I believe that to remain competitive, investment and expansion of the current football portfolio is necessary.

“With Liverpool, I will oversee the required reinforcement of football operations, with a number of essential leadership positions needing urgent attention. I know from personal experience what a wonderful job Mike Gordon has done with day-to-day oversight on behalf of his fellow owners. Going forward I’m looking forward to working with FSG’s Board of Managers. Also, in assuming this role, I fully understand that it comes with great expectations, and I therefore intend to identify, hire, and subsequently empower leaders who meet and embody the club’s values and ambitions.

“Having served the club previously I need no reminder of how much emotional investment is made by supporters in the city itself, as well as across the UK and the world. I am looking forward to getting started.”

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