Liverpool fans’ concerns over ownership a common bond with Red Sox fans
“We were led to believe they made a massive difference in the Red Sox and they’re the best thing since sliced bread now,” one fan at The Park pub said. “I didn’t realize [the Red Sox] wasn’t doing very well, I thought it was doing really good.”
There’s been speculation that the closure of Henry’s investment firm might mean the 63-year-old Red Sox owner would lack the financial resources to support both the local baseball team and Liverpool. Henry and Werner have denied that allegation, but there are some fans who think the owners need to choose one franchise or the other.
“I think they should put all their money into Liverpool,” one diehard LFC fan said outside Anfield. “I think they should sell the baseball team and whatever they’ve got, put it all into Liverpool Football Club.”
Henry didn’t initially realize the impact the Liverpool purchase would have on Red Sox fans when he bought the club in Oct. 2010.
“Since we bought Liverpool, there has been this continual back and forth in Liverpool about the money we spend in Boston, and in Boston about the money we spend in Liverpool,” Henry told WEEI in September. “I don’t think we anticipated that. I think that’s been the biggest issue. There hasn’t been a financial issue, but there’s really been an issue between fan bases about where money is spent.
“Of course, right after we spend $476 million to buy Liverpool, which many people think is a bargain price, I guess, we spent how much on Adrian [Gonzalez] and Carl [Crawford]? That provoked such an outrage in Liverpool. We were shocked about that. The fact that we went out and signed these free agents caused that. Then we went out and spent $150 million or so on buying players in Liverpool, and it provoked that here. That’s really a mistake on our part, not to recognize that that was going to create issues with both franchises.”
The issue of spending remains a hot topic in Merseyside.
“John Henry, all I want to say is can you get the checkbooks out in January?” one fan proclaimed regarding the upcoming transfer window. “If you don’t get the checkbooks out, I don’t want to know … and buy some players, some forwards.”
Werner said the club is committed to spending more to improve the Liverpool squad next month.
“Our intention is to strengthen, but actions will speak louder than words,” Werner said in November. “We are playing better and better each week. Obviously, we have made some mistakes in the past, but our intention is to deliver, strengthen the squad and move forward.
“We know that January is a challenging time and I don’t want to say we’ve got x or y but, hopefully, the fans will be pleased with what we do accomplish.”
Both Red Sox fans and players noticed the declining day-to-day involvement of ownership at the ballpark last season. But in Liverpool, the issue looms larger because Henry and Werner are based in the US and rarely make the trip overseas to see the matches.
Last season, Henry and Werner were ripped in the British press for missing the FA Cup semifinal match against crosstown rival Everton, having flown back to the United States to catch the Red Sox’ home opener instead.
“The owners don’t come as often as we like to see them,” a fan said before the start of an LFC match against Anzhi. “I don’t think they fully understand the club and Liverpool is a massive, massive club, they don’t fully understand, I don’t feel anyway, if they did, they’d put a bit more into it.”
How much more time and money Henry and Werner have to put into the Sox and Liverpool is the big question. It’s difficult to be in two places at once.
“They need to make more of an effort and come to the smaller games,” one fan at The Albert said. “It’s all very well and good to come to the big games like Man City and Man United, but they need to be coming to the smaller games as well and they certainly need to be putting their hands in their pockets ... I think they should sell the Red Sox and put all of their money into Liverpool.”
Henry and Werner continue to deny all reports that indicate they might be putting the baseball team up for sale.
So whether fans like it or not, for now, the balancing act will continue.