Without further ado...
Well, lucky Liverpudlians, that terrible turn with American owners seems to be solved with...more Americans!! Thankfully, New England Sports Ventures have a much better track record than our departing duo ever had, collectively or individually.
There are quite a few parallels between the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC, so we can hopefully extrapolate what happened in Boston to what will probably occur with our Reds.
They're winners: The Red Sox were lovable losers, always finding a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, especially against their main rivals, The Yankees, who dominated the sport over various decades. They had an 86-year World Championship drought (makes the wait for the League look a bit easier...or more foreboding...) and this ownership group was one of the main reasons why it stopped at 86 years. Just to be braggarts, they also won the World Series in 2007, making it two titles in five years.
They Spend Money Wisely: John Henry, the man at the head of the ownership group, made his money as a commodities trader, first in the 70s with soy beans, and then later with full-blown futures funds. He created a prediction formula on his own (well, with a couple history books and a calculator, too) and made millions because he knew how to manage his money.
The same goes for the Red Sox. In 2004, they had the perfect mix of young, cheap talent, the right specialty players (a fast player who was a steals specialist, someone who could hit left-handers off the bench, etc.) a few big name (and big-ticket) stars, and a number of character guys who just wanted to work hard and win at all costs.
They Understand The Fans: Red Sox fans are a fairly masochistic bunch. Their constituency, roughly five states in the US, are utter lunatics. They live and die with every regular season game. They know every player on the roster both at the main club and in their farm team (read: reserve system). They see the rest of the league and know exactly what it is they do or do not need and are fairly "woe is me" about the whole situation, all the while having the strangest optimism every April that "this is the year" they're going to win. Sound familiar?
These same fans also treat the ownership group like heroes. The new group came in after a few decades of worthless spending, doling out big money on players that didn't amount to anything and refused to build up their young talent. NESV demanded the team be treated like a world-class winning organization, and soon they became that very thing.
But it's not all sunshine and lollipops....
They Don't ALWAYS Spend So Wisely: A couple years ago, there was a Japanese pitcher named "Daisuke Matsuzaka." He was in his mid-20s and dominated Japanese baseball like no other pitcher. A bidding war struck up between a few teams, but whenever it's Red Sox against Yankees, dollar signs go through the roof. The way the bid worked was much like football: you paid a transfer fee to the club, then had 72 hours to negotiate a deal. The Sox paid $51,111,111.11 to the club for the right to give him a six-year, $52 million dollar contract. He currently sucks ass.
And They Don't Always Spend Enough: The American baseball free agent market is the closest we have in sport to the capitalistic-as-all-get-out football market. You can pay any player anything your heart desires, so long as you'll be able to afford the contract. On a few occasions, however, the Red Sox were steadfast in not going the extra mile to sign players. One of the heroes from the 2004 team, center fielder Johnny Damon, was allowed to walk to the hated Yankees because the Sox refused to give him a four-year deal. Clearly, sentimentality comes second to business. Furthermore, they let a franchise free agent in Mark Texiera sign with the Yankees because they couldn't cough up another $3 or so million dollars.
The Sox believe in playing baseball on a budget, even if they are one of the top three in revenue year in and year out. This past season, they decided to sell the team on "defense!" and "pitching!" when in reality they decided to spend on one big free agent pitcher (and overpaid for his services) while plugging in cheap, decent players, hoping that the overall talent could make the team a winner. They missed the playoffs this season. When they spend and spend well, they win. When they don't, they're still a good, solid team, just... underwhelming.
Boy, Do They Like Making Money: Their home field, Fenway Park, was first built in 1912, which they still use. It's an ugly matchbox of a stadium that people now consider "quaint" because they're too nice to use "horribly outdated." Most ownership groups who wanted to purchase the Sox in '03 were going to tear it down and build a new stadium. But not these guys! They believed that the park was the franchise, so they decided to keep the old barn because they couldn't envision a franchise without it. (Editor's Note: Please ignore the use of the word "franchise." A can of worms better left closed.)
Then they whored that thing out as hard as they possibly could.
The place only holds roughly 35,000, while most comparable stadiums fit 55,0000, so seats were placed everywhere. On top of the Green Monster, the space-saving giant wall that is meant to simulate a wall 380 feet away, there are now rows and rows of seats (at $200 a pop). There are new expensive club seats, banners and ads all over the Green Monster and anywhere else you look, corporate sponsorships all over the place. After games, on their own TV network, the Red Sox cut their post game show in half so they could sell "exclusive" naming rights to two different companies, one to their "Red Sox Post Game" show, and one to their "Post Post Game" show. They have a fan club named Red Sox Nation that costs about $20 a year, and a couple years ago they had a novelty "name the President of Red Sox Nation" vote....that cost 99 cents per vote.
In closing... It seems like a really good fit. There are some very clear similarities between both clubs, as noted, and the people themselves are fairly similar. The Boston area has a good number of Liverpool supporters (headed by www.lfcboston.com) already, so they'll put the heat on the Yanks if they screw up like Hicks/Gillett did. There are some concerns, but their management style is very similar to that of Rafa: spend well, hopefully spend wisely, but sometimes it doesn't work out the way everyone hoped. Sure, they aren't Saudi sugar-daddies, but it seems to be a phenomenal match with Liverpool FC... even if they are the owners of my most hated rivals (think of Bitters buying out your second-favorite sports team – this is my nightmare). So over in the states, I'll be moping about, but all of you closer to Anfield should rest easy. Your nightmare is nearly completed.