SBD/August 16, 2012/Franchises

Fenway Sports Group Facing Organizational Challenges With Liverpool, Red Sox

Henry (l) and Werner both say Liverpool needs to be more competitive in EPL
EPL club Liverpool Owner and Fenway Sports Group co-Chair John Henry said that the team faces a “huge financial challenge to compete with the very best” as it “continues to pay the price for the failings of the previous regime,” according to Alastair Himmer of REUTERS. Henry said that FSG remained “committed to restoring the Reds to the top of the English game but warned not to expect a change of fortunes as rapid as the one achieved with the Boston Red Sox.” Henry: “When you look at the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United, Liverpool isn't holding up its side of the rivalry. That is the way it was with the Red Sox and the (New York) Yankees. The Yankees were just completely dominant when we arrived” (REUTERS, 8/16). FSG co-Chair Tom Werner said that the “key to strengthening the squad going forward is continuing to improve on the club’s commercial performance.” Werner: “I think that we knew from the very beginning that it was important to increase commercial revenues. People have talked about this idea of virtuous circles. The stronger we are commercially, the stronger this club can be. I think we have made great stride.” He added, “The sales from the new Warrior kit have surpassed our expectations, we announced a new deal with Chevrolet, we have announced a deal with an Indonesian airline. ... We are very aggressive in how to raise the revenues commercially. We are working on stadium solutions because we know that match day revenues have to increase” (North Wales DAILY POST, 8/16).

In Boston, Scott Lauber notes Henry in an e-mail “rebutted” an article about a July 26 meeting in which Red Sox 1B Adrian Gonzalez and 2B Dustin Pedroia reportedly “led a contingent of players in advocating” for the firing of manager Bobby Valentine. Henry confirmed a meeting took place, but said, “No one in that meeting at any time took the position that Bobby should be or needed to be replaced.” He added, “What is important for Red Sox fans to know is that ownership, players and all staff especially Bobby Valentine are determined to turn around what has thus far been an unacceptable, failed season” (BOSTON HERALD, 8/16). Also in Boston, Nick Cafardo writes, "A major issue for upper Sox management is concern over the sources cited in the story and their motivation.” Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino said, “We are very concerned about a breach of confidence in this matter because [in the 10] years we’ve held these meetings, we’ve never had information leak like this.” Valentine, when asked whether the clubhouse drama was “beginning to weigh on him or the team.” Valentine: “I don’t know if it’s weighing on me, but the guys are upset that every time we win a game, something else pops out of the bag of tricks.” He added, “I guess this guy was sitting in the story for about three weeks and decided to wait right before the Yankees series to pop it out there. Great stuff, really good stuff” (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/16).
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