Can likely new Liverpool owner deliver?

John W Henry, the prospective owner of Liverpool Football Club, is not a benefactor in the mould of Sheikh Mansour or Roman Abramovich.   If he had been placed in the recent 4-4-2 rich list he would have come in 27th.  What he does have at Boston Red Sox is a track record of reviving a tired brand with a great past.

John W Henry, the prospective owner of Liverpool Football Club, is not a benefactor in the mould of Sheikh Mansour or Roman Abramovich.   If he had been placed in the recent 4-4-2 rich list he would have come in 27th.  What he does have at Boston Red Sox is a track record of reviving a tired brand with a great past.


What is in some doubt is his approach to the crucial new stadium issue.  Liverpool’s matchday revenue in the 2008-9 season was £42.5m.  Chelsea, with a smaller ground capacity, but more corporate facilities, made £74.5m.  Manchester United took £108.8m, the equivalent of their latest operating profit.


The Main Stand at Anfield houses the directors’ box, the dressing rooms, some corporate lounges and the media faciliies.   Rebuilt in 1973, it is very outdated.  The club failed to invest sufficiently in corporate boxes.  It has just 31 and has nothing as exclusive as the dining clubs that exist at Old Trafford, the Emirates or Stamford Bridge.   The absence of such boxes was seen at the time as consistent with the spirit of the club, but it was an expensive mistake.


New England Sports Ventures (NESV) is considering refurbishing Anfield rather than building a new stadium at Stanley Park.   It was an option explored by George Gillett, but was put off by the realisation that the Main Stand would have to be closed for at least a season, depriving the club of some £30m in revenue.  However, NESV have experience at refurbishing an old stadium at Fenway Park, although a couple of colleagues who went there when I was in Boston the other week were not too impressed by the plastic seats.  Also, the capacity there was increased by just 3,500 which would be completely insufficient at Liverpool.


The leader of Liverpool City Council, Joe Anderson, hopes that the refurbishment option will not be pursued.   The Stanley Park stadium is a key element in the City Council’s plans to regenerate North Liverpool.   Moreover, one of the difficulties in re-developing Anfield is its proximity to densely built residential areas.


In case the NESV bid collapses, an Asian consortium, believed to be based in Singapore, is waiting in the wings.   It wants to be subjected to the same series of Premier League ownership tests that NESV has already passed.

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