Thrift key as new owners look to revive Liverpool
LIVERPOOL, England—John Henry has cautioned that his Boston Red Sox ownership group will not throw cash at reviving fallen English giant Liverpool.
Henry met with supporters and local lawmakers Monday and afterwards confirmed that New England Sports Ventures would first seek to repair the ties between the club and the community that were damaged while Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr., the previous owners, were in control.
"We met with supporter groups. We didn't give any assurances -- we're here to listen and to learn from them, and we learned a lot today," Henry said. "I think the biggest issue was the sense of disenfranchisement and their sense of not being a part of their own club, so that's what we discussed. This was a big first step today."
The urgency of the task facing Henry was underlined Sunday -- two days after New England Sports Ventures completed its $476-million takeover of Liverpool -- when the team lost 2-0 at neighbor Everton. The result kept the Reds marooned in the Premier League's relegation zone on just six points from eight games.
But Henry has warned that NESV will be frugal owners, quipping: "I don't have 'Sheikh' in front of my name."
"When we spend a dollar, it has to be wisely," the American tycoon said. "We cannot afford player contracts that do not make long-term sense. We have to be smart, bold, aggressive."
So if manager Roy Hodgson wants funds to strengthen a squad that is currently heading toward the second tier, the commercial department will have to get busy.
"When we looked at Liverpool, the first thing that struck was there are opportunities here to really build a winner," Henry said. "The revenue potentials around the world -- it is a global football club -- and especially with the financial fair play rules, it is really going to be revenue that drives how good your club can be in the future. That is one thing that we think we are good at."
Red Sox fans across the Atlantic can testify to that.
"When we arrived at the Red Sox (in 2002), the New York Yankees were a juggernaut and it wasn't that much of rivalry," Henry said. "We turned it into a rivalry where we have gone toe-to-toe with the Yankees even though they have got a much higher revenue.
"They keep going up but we have gone up faster. We have got to the point where if you look at our wins and losses against the Yankees over the last nine years, we are almost dead even. ... If you think Boston is somehow on a par economically with New York, that's simply not true."