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SBD Global/February 13, 2013/Franchises

John Henry Defends Against ''Concerns'' That Owning Liverpool Is A Distraction

John Henry said there are concerns in the U.S. about his role as Liverpool FC owner.
MLB Boston Red Sox & Liverpool FC Owner John Henry insists that "owning Liverpool is no distraction but admits there are concerns" in the U.S. about his involvement at Anfield, according to Dominic King of the London DAILY MAIL. Liverpool’s principal owner "has come under fire" for the way the Red Sox, Fenway Sports Group’s other major sporting investment, have performed. He has also "come under scrutiny from Liverpool fans, who think Henry is more concerned with restoring the Red Sox to former glories than rebuilding Liverpool." But Henry renounced the rumors and "stressed he is committed to a long-term project on Merseyside, along with his Red Sox vision." Henry said, "Everything affects you, but the things that have been said, repeated over and over again, are fairly ludicrous." He added: "The last time I was in Liverpool I think was in May of last year. I don’t know where this fraction comes from. You can say every major league owner is distracted if you want to try and make a case for it because they all have other businesses, other endeavors. I would say some of [FSG's limited partners] are not OK. They read the same stuff, and probably some think that we are distracted. Last year's (Red Sox) losses weren't the result of Liverpool" (DAILY MAIL, 2/12). Henry said that FSG's ownership of Liverpool has affected its "perception much more than its or the team's performance." He added, "There’s no doubt in my mind that we had a core philosophy for a lot of years and we moved away from that philosophy and it’s hurt us" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 2/12).

PERCEPTION VS. REALITY:
In Boston, Scott Lauber wrote, "Fairly or not, Henry’s image has taken a pounding." Henry at best is perceived as "being preoccupied by his other ventures," and he is at worst "mocked as a cartoonishly eccentric and reclusive billionaire who is hopelessly out of touch with the frustrated fan base" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/12). In N.Y., Brian Costa wrote the Red Sox have "recommitted themselves to player development." The "collapse of 2011 is over." The "epic debacle that was the Bobby Valentine era is done." For the "first time since Henry bought the team, the Red Sox are rebuilding." Costa: "Unlike some other big-market owners, Henry doesn't cringe at the sound of the word" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/11). Henry said of the competitive landscape for wealthy teams such as the Red Sox and Yankees, "It's gotten more difficult. There are a lot more restrictions on spending now. There are more restrictions on the draft. So the Red Sox and Yankees have to be smarter. It used to be you could just out-spend everyone, and that's much more difficult to do these days" (N.Y. POST, 2/12).
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