SBD/Issue 38/Franchises

Henry Reveals That NESV Has Paid Off Majority Of Liverpool's Debt

Henry Has Engaged Liverpool Supporter
Groups Since Buying Club Last Month

EPL club Liverpool Owner John Henry in a detailed e-mail said that he has "paid off" $323M (all figures U.S.) of the club's debt, leaving it with only $60M "owed to Royal Bank of Scotland for development work on a proposed new stadium in Stanley Park," which New England Sports Ventures is now reviewing, according to David Conn of the GUARDIAN. Henry: "The simplest thing to say is that we removed all debt but the stadium debt. LFC is not servicing debt other than stadium debt." RBS confirmed that the $323M "has been paid off" and that NESV "has not saddled Liverpool with any new debt to replace it." Henry in the e-mail revealed that Liverpool Chair Martin Broughton did not ask NESV "for a 'contractual commitment' not to load their own costs on to the club." But he added that NESV "does not intend to extract money from the club to pay its own costs." Henry said that the group plans to "put money in, as they have at the Boston Red Sox, where they have taken no dividend in nine seasons of ownership." Henry also said that NESV is "not looking to take money out of Liverpool in the short term ... but to increase the club's value by building it up." Henry: "This is the wrong business to get into for profit. Some day (hopefully a long time from now) these clubs and businesses will probably be worth more than we paid for them, but only if we do the right things day-to-day for the long term." Conn noted Henry met with the Spirit of Shankly and Share Liverpool fan groups "immediately after his takeover; and he has spoken positively about engaging with supporters, although he has yet to decide his preferred way to do so." Both groups "are asking NESV for a partnership, in which a supporters' trust would hold a meaningful stake in Liverpool and be represented" on the club's BOD (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 11/2).

NEXT TO JOIN THE CLUB? The GUARDIAN's Matt Scott cites sources as indicating that EPL club Arsenal investor Stan Kroenke is expected "ultimately to push his 29.9% stake in the club past the 30% threshold that would trigger a mandatory bid." There are "understood to be serious talks under way with at least one interested party" for former Arsenal investor Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith's 15.9% stake in the club. The share was taken to market by financial services firm Blackstone in April. Blackstone yesterday "declined to comment" on the identity of the interested party, and one source said the process is "ongoing" (GUARDIAN, 11/3).

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