Bob Hohler’s explosive autopsy for the 2011 Boston Red Sox included a brief allusion to Fenway Sports Group’s other business interests, chiefly NASCAR and Liverpool F.C. It might be a bit unfair to say the Guardian’s David Conn was overly charmed by Red Sox / LFC principal owner John Henry (above), though the latter isn’t exactly challenged when claiming, “hopefully the fans of both clubs will eventually see what we see clearly – that there is nothing to fear from the existence of the other club and that Fenway Sports Group is much stronger financially because of Boston and Liverpool.”
Liverpool’s outlay includes £35m on Andy Carroll, £20m each for Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing, as well as £22m for Luis Suárez and £6m for José Enrique, the latter two generally felt in football to represent fair value. The Boston Red Sox, the baseball team Fenway owns, took on $300m (£191m) in new payroll commitments on two players, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, before this season, which nevertheless ended in dramatic collapse for the Red Sox.
Asked whether Liverpool achieved value in the transfer market or overpaid for Carroll and the other players signed at Liverpool, Henry suggested they felt they needed to show fans of both clubs they were prepared to make signings for big money: “There was a lot of criticism in Boston that we weren’t going to spend money on the Red Sox after we did the LFC transaction. We spent something like $300m in the off-season in Boston, and then there was the fear we wouldn’t spend in Liverpool.
“It is really surprising, ironic, to be now accused of overspending. Usually owners are accused of the opposite.”
Asked if the signing of Crawford, the left-arm outfielder contracted for $140m in wages over seven years, whose performances were disappointing this season, represented overspending, Henry defended the 30-year-old, saying the player had only “had a bad year”. Then he acknowledged: “Choosing players in any sport is an imperfect science. We certainly have been guilty of overspending on some players, and that can be tied to an analytical approach that hasn’t worked well enough.”