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A success story only America produces
by Paul Kennedy, October 7th, 2010 12:45AM

TAGS:  england, soccer business


[ENGLAND] The news that Liverpool has been sold to New England Sports Ventures, which owns the Boston Red Sox and is headed by John Henry, should come as good news to suffering Liverpool fans.

Henry is a success story as only America produces. He never finished college -- he got sidetracked touring with a rock band -- but made his fortune by creating a mathematical formula to predict commodity prices. (One of his stock funds make a 91 percent return in 2008 when the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index plunged 38 percent.)

A man about town, Henry and his close business friends were known as the Cirque du Rire — the circus of laughs -- until he remarried in 2009.

Henry is a hard-core night owl, staying up until early in the morning to check the Asian markets. Asked why he stays up so late, he famously replied, "Going to bed before that is like leaving in the fifth inning of a ball game."

Henry's ownership group includes former television executive Tom Werner and baseball executive Larry Lucchino. New England Sports Ventures also owns sports network NESN, the home of the Red Sox, and is also involved in NASCAR racing. Its Fenway Sports Group has dabbled in soccer, partnering with Fulham and putting on the Celtic-Sporting Lisbon exhibition in July.

But its most famous property is, of course, the Red Sox, winners of World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 under NESV's watch after an 86-year drought dating back to the Sox's sale of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1918 so their owner, Harry Frazee, could, as the legend goes, finance his Broadway musical, "No, No, Nanette."

For a while, it looked the Red Sox would move from Fenway Park and build a bigger stadium elsewhere. But they chose to renovate and add to cozy Fenway.

With 631 straight sellouts at Fenway Park, the Red Sox are one of the toughest tickets in American sports.

Henry is revered among Sox fans. His new wife, Linda, was not a baseball fan when they met and she did not understand how strong the connection was until they were touring the Louvre in Paris and were stopped by four men, all Red Sox fans, on the verge of tears when they ran into Henry and Linda.

Growing up on his father's farm in Arkansas, Henry admired Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals. He first owned the Florida Marlins, tried to buy the Anaheim Angels but sold the Marlins when the Red Sox became available.

Henry says there's nothing like the joy of owning a baseball team. Interviewed by the Boston Globe two years ago, he said, "Where could you go after this? You'd have to retire."

Or buy a soccer team.

  1. C. Zee
    commented on: October 7, 2010 at 8:18 a.m.
    Liverpool FC has been a sinking ship for the last decade. Even while they won a trophy or two, the rot was there with a bucket load of bad purchases and the squandering of revenues. A serious "dry docking" might save the ship from being scuttled. If that means relegation or a fire sale of players - then by all means - Henry should do it.
  1. Tom Jedrzejewicz
    commented on: October 7, 2010 at 9:43 a.m.
    This is great news for Liverpool fans, they just don't know it yet. NESV will hire good soccer people, stay out of the day-to-day operations, provide sufficient money, and will absolutely not be a distraction.

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