Quick Thoughts on Liverpool Sale

John Henry and his sports group, New England Sports Ventures, purchased Liverpool Football Club this week. The sale has not been finalized by the Premier League and there is still a courtroom battle to settle about the authorization of the sale. Courtesy Webjedi, from Wikimedia Commons

By Kevin Koczwara

Liverpool Football Club’s sale could finalized as early as Friday, if court room battles and back room politics are settled. American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks feel the sale of Liverpool was pushed through, and the price John Henry and New England Sports Ventures paid for the club is far from the total worth. But do Gillett and Hicks really want to lose out to the Royal Bank of Scotland on Monday when they default on their loans? Or do they want to get some money back? I would think they would want some money back before the banks takes the club from their hands.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the sale:

  • I am a Red Sox fan, and I am a fan of what Tom Henry and his crew have done with the Sox since taking over. They invest wisely, rather than splashing cash for big names all the time. They figure out what wins in baseball, pitching, and then work around that by filling in the holes with players who do their job.
  • The hiring of Theo Epstein marked a turning point for the Sox. The team started focusing more resources on youth and the minors. Liverpool needs to start looking globally at younger talent and developing it. Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have done it. Lyon has mastered the transfer market by going after young talent, building it up and sticking to the tough transfer policies the team holds all the while becoming the dominant team in France and advancing in European competition. Can Henry and company follow the same models at Liverpool? I hope so. It only makes sense.
  • Message to Johny Henry: Do not alienate the fan base. Hicks and Gillett learned how ugly it can get when you alienate one of the world’s largest fan bases. Don’t lie or mislead the Liverpool supporters, they will get after you. Henry should relish being apart of another fan base like the Red Sox. Liverpool has tradition, and the fans love their club, so be one of them.
  • Henry has shown his support for the Red Sox by going to as many games as he can, tweeting about them, and speaking openly about the team. He should do the same for Liverpool. The model he uses in Boston will suit him well at Anfield.
  • Henry has done a great job with Fenway Park. He has got every penny he can from the oldest Major League Baseball stadium. He will have to do the same until he can build a new stadium or overhaul Anfield. I can see it happening and it working, much like it does here in New England. But he will need to act quickly.
  • The players should be happy, a new owner will take the pressure off their shoulders. Fans will be focused on their play now and the support should start ringing out from the Kop.
  • Americans aren’t all the same. Liverpool fans should give Henry a chance.

Kevin Koczwara is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at kevin.koczwara@thesocerguysonline.com.

Here is the  Full Statement from New England Sports Ventures on its Purchase of Liverpool Football Club:

New England Sports Ventures Statement on the Purchase of Liverpool FC

by NESN Staff on Oct 6, 2010 1:30:08 PM

The following is a statement from New England Sports Ventures.

New England Sports Ventures (“NESV”) can confirm that their bid for Liverpool FC has been selected by the Club’s Board of Directors and agreement has been reached with the Board to purchase the Club. NESV wishes to extend its appreciation to the Board for their diligence and their efforts on behalf of Liverpool FC and its supporters.

NESV wants to create a long-term financially solid foundation for Liverpool FC and is dedicated to ensuring that the Club has the resources to build for the future, including the removal of all acquisition debt. Our objective is to stabilize the Club and ultimately return Liverpool FC to its rightful place in English and European football, successfully competing for and winning trophies.

Since 2001, New England Sports Ventures has made successful investments in sports and entertainment properties. Our portfolio of companies, including the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park, New England Sports Network, Fenway Sports Group and Roush Fenway Racing are all committed to one common goal: winning. NESV wants to help bring back the culture of winning to Liverpool FC.

We have a proven track record, shown clearly with the Boston Red Sox. The team has won two World Series Championships over the past six years. We will bring the same kind of openness, passion, dedication and professionalism to Liverpool FC.

We are hopeful with regard to the pending legal and English Premier League procedures now underway, however, in light of these issues, we will respectfully refrain from comment or further actions at this time.

Background on NESV

Created in 2001, New England Sports Ventures is one of the largest sports, media and entertainment companies in the world with a proven track record of success for each of its subsidiaries. NESV’s portfolio of companies includes: 100 percent of the Boston Red Sox, a Major League Baseball club; 80 percent of New England Sports Network, a regional sports television network; 100 percent of Fenway Sports Group, a sales and marketing company; and 50% of Roush Fenway Racing, a NASCAR racing team.

NESV is led by Principal Owner John Henry and Chairman Tom Werner, who collectively have more than 30 years of experience as owners in Major League Baseball. This ownership group has been voted as the best in MLB by the readers of the Sports Business Journal in each of the past two years, and in 2009 Sports Illustrated selected this group as the number one ownership group in MLB.

NESV Achievements

From 2002 through 2009, the Boston Red Sox have had the second highest regular season winning percentage in MLB, have qualified for the postseason in a club record six of the past seven seasons, and have won more postseason games and World Series Championships than any other club. In addition to a commitment to winning, NESV has made a significant investment into extensive improvements to Fenway Park, resulting in additional seating, more concourse space, expanded concessions options, and an overall enhancement to the Fenway Park fan experience. The Red Sox have also been deeply committed to supporting the community. Since 2002, the Red Sox Foundation has donated more than $38 million to worthy charitable programs throughout New England, and the team through its Community Relations efforts has given away more than 27,000 autographed items and Fenway experiences to be used in fundraising efforts, and has helped facilitate more than 4,000 player and alumni appearances in the community.

New England Sports Network has had the highest rated MLB games for the past six seasons from 2004 through 2009, and in 2009 delivered the highest television household ratings among all regional sports networks in the United States. NESN has also created a large amount of unique and original television content and is at the forefront of the industry in terms of digital media.

In addition to assisting with sponsorship sales for both the Red Sox and NESN, Fenway Sports Group serves as the exclusive sales agency for other tier one properties and brands such as Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Boston College, and the Deutsche Bank Championship PGA Tour event; helping many of its clients grow sponsorship revenues by more than 20% annually. FSG also manages all non-baseball events hosted at Fenway Park, including the hockey events centered around the 2010 NHL Winter Classic, the Fenway Football Challenge, and major concerts. FSG provides specialized sports business consulting services for other professional sports teams, assisting the Miami Dolphins in selling the naming rights deal for Sun Life Stadium.

Roush Fenway Racing is one of NASCAR’s premier racing teams and has won 32 championships and more than 360 races in drag racing, sports car and stock car racing; as well as five championships across NASCAR’s three premier series.

John Henry, Principal Owner

Henry’s background includes finance and agriculture, and he is a former limited partner of the New York Yankees and sole owner of the Florida Marlins. He is in the Futures Hall of Fame. He sits on the Executive Council of MLB and manages the Roush Fenway Racing relationship. He is an active board member of Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) and specializes in digital media issues. Henry is passionate about soccer and lives in Boston, Massachusetts and Boca Raton, Florida.

Tom Werner, Chairman

Werner’s background includes Harvard, ABC, and Carsey-Werner, and he is the former owner of the San Diego Padres. He produced some of the biggest hit series in television history such as The Cosby Show, Roseanne, 3rd Rock from the Sun and That 70’s Show. His primary responsibility within NESV is the New England Sports Network (NESN). Werner maintains a residence in Los Angeles and Boston and is passionate about the business of sports.

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