Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fans Feel Estranged From Club, Reveals J. Henry

Liverpool owner John Henry has revealed initial talks with supporters' groups brought to light the feelings of 'disenfranchisement' many Reds fans have towards the Anfield club. Henry met with supporters and local MPs to discuss the future of the club in the wake of last week's takeover by New England Sports Ventures (NESV). Having replaced the unpopular Tom Hicks and George Gillett at Anfield after a protracted buy- out which was dragged through the courts, Henry is keen to start making an impact as soon as possible, and today's talks were deemed a success by the American.
'We met with supporter groups. We didn't give any assurances - we're here to listen and to learn from them, and we learned a lot,' Henry told reporters at the conclusion of the talks. 'I think the biggest issue was the sense of disenfranchisement and their sense of not being a part of their own club, so that's what we discussed. This was a big first step.' Henry is under no illusions about the task which awaits him and NESV after their £300million takeover. The 61-year-old, who as part of the NESV group of 17 investors is owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise, was at Goodison Park on Sunday to watch Liverpool's 2-0 Merseyside derby defeat. But it is unlikely the team slipping to 19th in the Barclays Premier League, on the back of one victory in eight matches, will have made much difference to his planning.
'What am I thinking? How much work this is going to be. How steep the learning curve is going to be. This is not going to be easy,' he said after the match. 'We realise the challenge that lies ahead if we are going to go toe to toe with the other big clubs. 'We are not asking for a long honeymoon. This is a contact sport we are in and the going can get rough sometimes. We realise that. We are not going to make any promises but we are going to listen and consider.' NESV, Liverpool and their major creditors Royal Bank of Scotland were accused of an 'epic swindle' by Hicks, claiming the club had been severely undervalued. Henry, whose history with the Red Sox suggests there will be significant investment to come over the coming months, denied that was the case. And although he may not be the wealthiest new owner in the world, he is basing the business plan going forward on making money and not wasting it on interest payments as the previous owners did.
'There were big financial issues but in the end we made a decision we really wanted to compete at this level,' Henry told the Liverpool Echo. 'I know some people are saying this was a cheap price. There is no way we look at this as a cheap price for this club. 'I don't have "Sheikh" in front of my name but we look at revenues in sports as being the ability to send out a strong team on the field.' He added: 'When we looked at Liverpool, the first thing that struck us was there are opportunities here to really build a winner. The revenue potentials around the world - it is a global football club - and especially with the financial fair play rules, it is really going to be revenue that drives how good your club can be in the future. That is one thing that we think we are good at.'

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