Luis Suarez: How His Ban Affects Liverpool's Future and Philosophy
There can be little doubt that the Uruguayan has been magnificent for the Reds this season. Along with Manchester United's Robin van Persie and Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale, Suarez is seen by many as one of the English Premier League's leading players.
Should Liverpool Sell Luis Suarez?
His loss to the team for 10 games is his second lengthy ban in just two years. The first came after he was found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
Suarez has taken over as Liverpool's talisman from club legend Steven Gerrard. He has become the focal point for all that is good about the Reds. The Uruguayan is viewed by many as being a world-class talent, but he is also a world-class problem.
The obvious place to start is on the pitch, where his absence will create huge complications. Suarez has been electric in Premier League action this term. He has waded in with a superb 23 goals, which account for 38 percent of Liverpool's EPL total. He is the Reds' main threat and will not be easily replaced.
However, where his ban will be felt most is on the balance sheets.
The first financial point to make is that Luis Suarez signed a new four-year contract on August 8, 2012. The initial deal was worth £80,000 per week, but under the terms of the contract, his wages jumped to £100,000 per week after his goal-scoring exploits.
Now that Suarez is facing a 10-game ban, Liverpool will have to pay out £1 million to a player who is sitting in the stands and contributing nothing to the club.
The losses are further compounded by the fact that the Reds still have a realistic chance of qualifying for the Europa League next season. Liverpool is currently in seventh place in the Premier League, just five points behind an Everton team slowly realizing all their efforts to qualify for the Champions League were for naught.
According to Deloitte, a worldwide financial advisory firm, missing out on the Europa League could cost the Reds somewhere in the region of £4-7 million depending upon their progress. Liverpool could yet qualify to play in the Europa League in 2013-14 if they win the UEFA Fair Play League.
The financial burden of Suarez's actions will be seen mostly at the end of the 2013-14 season, when Liverpool does not qualify for the Champions League.
The Reds are in debt to the tune of £87 million, having made a pre-tax loss of £41 million in 2011 and then having received a bailout loan from FSG to the tune of £47 million. The yearly interest on the Reds' debt comes to £4 million. This is roughly the figure of Suarez's lost wages and the missed Europa League capital.
Now factor in missing out on the Champions League, and the club with the fifth highest wage bill in the EPL will drop further into debt. This will be bitter news for fans who thought the days of Liverpool trading in the negative were well and truly gone.
Qualifying for the group stage of the Champions League alone guarantees £6 million. Then between matchday revenue and UEFA bonuses for winning matches, clubs could potentially earn £20 million before the knockout stages begin.
From there, clubs can potentially win £10.5 million in appearance money alone before reaching the final.
Looking at the current Liverpool squad and their progress under Brendan Rodgers, it was entirely feasible that the Reds could finish fourth next season with a few tweaks to the team.
With Suarez out for the first six games, potentially the first two months of the new season, Liverpool will not finish fourth under any circumstances with this current squad.
Add in the fact that the 26-year-old will need games to get up to match fitness, and the Reds could be missing a 100 percent fit Luis Suarez for almost 10 games. Liverpool, as a club and in its current state, simply cannot afford this.
The Reds do not have the finances to go out and buy a guaranteed goal-getter without moving Suarez on first.
Fenway Sports Group will not want to have pumped almost £50 million into the club they only took over in October 2010.
They appointed Brendan Rodgers in May 2012 to lead the club in a new philosophical way. The ex-Swansea man, hailed as an outstanding coach by Jose Mourinho, was brought in to guide the club to a new era where football style, sophistication and intelligent recruitment were to the fore.
Suarez's ban has affected Liverpool's chances of qualifying for the Champions League in 2014-15. As such, their financial and football philosophies have been set back severely.
Not finishing fourth next season could cost the Reds a cool £25 million when all and sundry is accounted for.
While Suarez is an outstanding player, there can be little doubt that FSG must be considering this potential financial loss, despite Rodgers' misplaced defense of the player.
Liverpool will have to do a lot of soul searching over the summer and examine exactly what they want to achieve as a club.
If the Reds harbor any real ambition to finish fourth next season, they will consider selling Luis Suarez. Suarez is currently valued around £40 million. Liverpool should sell him to a club who are guaranteed to qualify for the Champions—like Juventus, who are believed to be interested in his capture.
Once Liverpool sells him, they will be in a position to sign his replacement. If they worked the deal properly, they could even swap the Uruguayan for two or three top-class players.
His 10-game ban has not only affected his own career and standing in the game but also Liverpool's standing as a club. Once again, their great name has been dragged through the mire for the wrong reasons.
Luis Suarez has never been red carded as a Liverpool player, yet he will have served 19 games of suspension.— SuárezStats (@SuarezStats) April 24, 2013
Despite being a world-class talent on the pitch, Luis Suarez has provided Liverpool with a world-class problem off it.
The time to sell him is now.
Statistics provided by uefa.com and www.whoscored.com.
You can look me up on Twitter @WillieGannon
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