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SBD/April 16, 2012/Franchises
Both Of Owner John Henry's Clubs Marked By Recent Failures, Not Successes
Published April 16, 2012
Red Sox and EPL club Liverpool Owner John Henry's teams are "united not in towering success but in stunning collapse," according to Jere Longman of the N.Y. TIMES. The Red Sox finished 7-20 last September and "missed the playoffs," while the '12 season has brought a "nervous start" with the team off to a 4-5 record. Meanwhile, Liverpool has won only 3 of its 14 EPL matches in '12. In eighth place in the EPL, Liverpool will "miss out on next season’s European Champions League, considered the world’s best club competition," for the third consecutive season. The absence "could lead to the loss" of $45M or more in revenue and to a "decreased willingness of top players to join the club." The Red Sox and Liverpool have "struggled recently from the extravagant acquisitions of players who have underperformed." Henry "remains a respected owner in both" Boston and Liverpool, but in Boston, there is some "itchy concern in the news media that Henry may be paying too much attention to soccer and not enough to baseball." Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy said, "He’s had the appearance of being distracted, absent, focused elsewhere." Longman noted the portrayal of Henry in England is as an "attentive, even ruthless, owner who has a clear strategy for success and is impatient with failure." But Henry and Fenway Sports Group Chair Tom Werner "received mixed reviews for Liverpool’s handling of an episode last October," when F Luis Suarez "directed racial taunts at Manchester United’s Patrice Evra." Suarez was suspended for eight games, and in a later game "refused to shake Evra's hand in a pregame ritual." Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish and some of the club's players "wore T-shirts in support of Suarez, a gesture that drew widespread criticism." Suarez "apologized for the handshake snub in February, an act of contrition that Henry and Werner were credited with orchestrating." Still, they were "criticized for not acting sooner and more forcefully" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/15).