The longest running saga in sports business has come to an end.
New England Sports Ventures (NESV) completed its purchase Friday after previous American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, removed the temporary restraining order they had obtained from a Texas court blocking any sale. NESV, who owns the Boston Red Sox, can now add another side with a proud history who play in red to its portfolio with the$480M acquisition. That’s generally perceived to be a bargain buy which is why Hicks and Gillett have vowed to pursue $1.6B in damages from the soccer club, claiming the deal is “illegal” and an “extraordinary swindle.”
Crucially for Liverpool fans (one of the best-supported teams in world soccer), this deal was done just an hour before a deadline which potentially could have placed the club in administration. This would have meant a nine-point penalty imposed on the team, plunging the side even further into relegation danger after making one of the worst starts in its history.
“I am proud and humbled,” said NESV head John W Henry. “I can’t tell you how happy I am. We’re here to win.” Henry has a track record of recent success, most famously taking the storied Red Sox from its 86 year World Series drought and delivering not one but — so far — two championships to the Nation. The parallels with Liverpool couldn’t be more poignant: the team hasn’t won the English title since 1990 (a veritable drought when you consider Liverpool’s history) and the fans have had to watch rivals such as Manchester United and Chelsea dominate the upper echelons of the league.
Liverpool’s new world begins this Sunday with the opposition, deliciously, being neighbors Everton (only a park separates them). When asked whether he would be in attendance, Henry replied that it would mean more to watch the team at home. In a sense then, it’s already John W Henry 1-0 Previous regime.