Liverpool are Premier League champions. The football club’s first English title in 30 years was secured after second-placed Manchester City lost 2-1 away to Chelsea on Thursday night.
The current world club and European champions had taken a runaway 25-point lead in the top division of English club football in March this year. The suspension of fixtures caused by the coronavirus pandemic, however, threatened to halt its charge towards a long-sought triumph.
Weeks of careful negotiations led to strict heath and hygiene protocols being introduced that allowed play to resume last week.
Having previously been on course to lift the trophy in record time, it is the latest date in the year that any club has won the Premier League. Every other season has concluded in May.
Liverpool’s 19th English championship is the result of patient planning in the five years since the German coach Jürgen Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers.
“Without the players I could do nothing, but of course from time to time you help with a few words,” said Klopp. “It’s such a big moment, I’m completely overwhelmed.”
This season, the team has shown ruthless efficiency, winning a high number of games by a single goal. The team has secured 13 more points this season than a team with their goal difference — the amount of goals scored, minus that conceded — would typically achieve.
The club has also benefited from the long-term approach of their owners Fenway Sports Group. The sports investment company, controlled by US billionaire John W Henry, acquired the club for £300m in 2010.
“This was a season for the ages and for the faithful of Liverpool football club,” wrote Mr Henry on Twitter. “It has been an incredible year of magnificent achievement culminating tonight in capturing the Premier League title.”
The owners have insisted on a data-driven approach to football’s multibillion-pound transfer market. The club’s analysts have identified undervalued players from pools of talent relatively untapped by their rivals.
Liverpool have signed footballers from bottom-half Premier League teams, such as Sadio Mané from Southampton and Andrew Robertson from Hull City, both of whom have been central to success.
In recent years, the club has also spent big on star players such as forward Mohamed Salah, defender Virgil Van Dijk and goalkeeper Alisson Becker. Collectively they cost around £200m in transfer fees.
This outlay is possible because Liverpool is one of the richest clubs in the world, benefiting from its share of the Premier League’s multiyear broadcasting worth £9.2bn, more than any other domestic competition in Europe. Annual revenues rose by nearly £78m to £533m in the year ending 31 May 2019.
Still, Liverpool is outperforming its competitors relative to spending. The club has the third-highest wage bill in the Premier League behind Manchester City and Manchester United. Academic research has shown that overall spending on player salaries is the best indicator of a team’s final league position.
“This is not just a one-off,” said Kenny Dalglish, the last Liverpool manager to take the English championship — in 1990 in the old First Division.
“Last year they came within a point of [winning the Premier League title] . . . Onwards and upwards. I think there are a lot more happy days for the club.”