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High-level foot in the door

As sale proceeds, Henry visits pub

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / October 13, 2010

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It was no coincidence that Red Sox owner John Henry stopped in for a drink at the Phoenix Landing in Cambridge yesterday afternoon.

The pub in Central Square is a haven for supporters of Liverpool FC, the English Premier League soccer team that Henry is trying to purchase.

When Henry arrived with nightclub impresario Ed Kane and another friend, Phoenix Landing owner Kevin Treanor was stunned. Until Henry sat down, those seated at the bar were more occupied with the Ireland-Slovakia match on television.

“It was surreal,’’ Treanor said. “He sat right down and had a pint.’’

Henry, dressed casually in a blue jacket, stayed for roughly 90 minutes, leaving only when a television crew from England arrived and turned on its camera.

Treanor, a Liverpool supporter, also has Red Sox season tickets and is eager for Henry to take control of the team.

“I’ve been a Liverpool fan for 40 years and these are bad times,’’ Treanor said. “I saw what he did for the Red Sox. From a pure business standpoint, he’s what we need.

“It was great to see him. I had never met him before. He just wanted to be left alone. I think he was sizing things up a bit.’’

Henry should learn more this morning about the state of the $477 million bid put forth by New England Sports Ventures last week. Liverpool’s independent board of directors accepted the offer, but team owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett objected, saying it is not close to the actual value of the club.

The sides argued their cases before London’s High Court yesterday. The Royal Bank of Scotland, which financed the team’s purchase by Hicks and Gillett in 2007, joined the board of directors in pressing for a sale. A ruling is expected today.

But as the case was being heard, Singapore business mogul Peter Lim announced that he would pay $569 million for Liverpool. His offer included $63 million for the purchase of new players to strengthen the struggling team.

A hedge fund in the United States with ties to the current owners also claimed it made a bid for the team and was ignored by the board of directors.

While Henry and his partners would seem to have an advantage, the process has been full of unexpected twists. Henry told patrons at Phoenix Landing that he was “hopeful’’ of getting the team.

Earlier in the day, Henry took to Twitter for the first time in more than a year, posting five messages regarding his pursuit of Liverpool.

After a cheery “Hello LFC supporters!’’ to get started, Henry wrote, “Everyone is hoping for the best. There have been enough twists and turns. Hopefully all gets sorted out soon [and] LFC moves forward.’’

He later wrote it would be “inappropriate and presumptuous at this time to respond to questions.’’

In Cambridge, they’re rooting for Henry after he made a good first impression.

“I’d take him,’’ Treanor said. “He seemed to be a good man.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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