LEBRON James has upped his stake in Liverpool Football Club after becoming a partner in their American ownership group Fenway.
The basketball superstar (36)owned a 2% stake in the English Premier League champions since 2011.
But United States reports say the NBA great has now also bought an undisclosed number of shares in Fenway Sports Group.
The company also own legendary baseball team Boston Red Sox. John Henry remains in charge at Fenway Sports with Tom Werner the second largest shareholder.
The pair approved a new
£540 million investment from RedBird Capital, who became the third largest shareholders in Fenway Sports Group.
FSG bought Liverpool in October 2010 from previous American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. The group have overseen Anfield renovations and built a new training ground as well as success on the pitch with Jurgen Klopp in charge.
James won his fourth NBA title last year with Los Angeles Lakers having previously won two with Miami Heat and one at Cleveland Cavaliers.
He earns around £30m a year from his contract with the basketball team. The Nike-sponsored athlete also helped launch Liverpool’s new kit with the US sportswear giants last August.
James said: “I’ll never forget the feeling of walking through the Shankly Gates, the atmosphere and the fans. It was an adrenaline rush and one of the greatest experiences I’ve had watching sports.
“Liverpool FC is admired across the world and I’ve learned firsthand that it’s the people who make the community special.
“Family and community are truly at the heart of everything they do. No matter where they are.”
James and his business partner, Maverick Carter become the first black partners in FSG history, as first reported by the Boston Globe.
James, who boasts over 80 million Instagram followers, will become a part-owner of the Red Sox as well as other FSG subsidiaries and adds another layer of potential to further aggressive growth being plotted by the company.
James took a 2% share in Liverpool in 2011, which was then worth £4,7 million. According to KPMG’s recent evaluation of the club, it is now worth over £37 million.
FSM, the consulting and marketing arm of FSG, has worked with James for more than a decade on marketing and endorsement ventures.
James’ increased role is part of a two-pronged dose of positive news for the growth ambitions of FSG.
After approving their $750 million private investment bid, which would make RedBird Capital Partners its third-largest partner, the Liverpool owners are set to see their overall spending power increase.
Coupled with James’ role, which is set to significantly enhance the brand value of FSG, the two moves are set to help the group expand its portfolio.
NFL and NBA franchises are believed to be on their shopping list, as well as another European soccer club plus teams from the NHL, MLS, WNBA and NWSL.
Sports betting, eSports and data analytics companies are also reported to be on the agenda after the cash infusion, which will give RedBird an 11% stake with an enterprise value estimated at
Whilst the immediate impact on Liverpool is unclear, and it appears unlikely the additional funds will initially be directed to Anfield, the moves mark a clear step in the growth ambitions of the group.
Increased arms of the ownership group could improve the resources available to the Reds in the long-run.
City Football Group and the Red Bull conglomerate represent similar examples and FSG are building a wide-ranging portfolio on both sides of the Atlantic.
The growing FSG ownership model is a fascinating empire and the success or failures of the latest expansion could have significant knock-on effects on Anfield and the Premier League.