The people of Liverpool will have woken up this morning to the usual turn of events. Someone moaning as their car stereo had been stolen, footballers who are on away trips to Europe having their mansions ransacked, and men walking around with curly perms complete with tache to boot. What a lot of people weren’t expecting was the “Yanks Out” chants, that have been emanating from certain sections of Liverpool’s support almost since they took over, to come true. Well to a certain extent anyway.
George Gillett and Tom Hicks look set to relinquish their stake in one of the most successful clubs in the history of sports, let alone football, currently sitting in the Premier League’s relegation zone, to another set of “Yanks,” John Henry and the New England Sports Ventures (NESV). NESV owns the Major League Baseball franchise Boston Red Sox and everything that comes with it, much like Gillett at the Montreal Canadiens, and Hicks with the Texas Rangers – another baseball team it should be pointed out.
Nonetheless the fans remain incredibly optimistic of NESV as their saviours – the same fans who made a point recently of marching in protest against Hicks and Gillett, and where were they headed? The game that afternoon.
If Henry and his group do take over, there’s a number of stinging comparisons between the two franchises that should be taken into account. One, and maybe the most obvious of them, is that Liverpool also wear red socks. Whether or not the club will adopt baseball style jerseys for their players in future is unclear, but reports have it that Henry wanted a soccer team and the stipulation was that they had to already be sporting red socks. A change of name to the Liverpool Red Sox Football Club is thought to be another condition of the takeover.
Further to this you’ve got the two stadia in which the teams play. Boston have their quirky, outdated, some might even say dilapidated, I would say traditional, Fenway Park, situated on a plot of land where you could only really fit the stadium. Of course they’ve got the iconic green monster, Pesky Pole, and the fans are thought of very much as a member of the team.
This is very similar to the red side of Merseyside, who play at Anfield, where on a European night, if you listen to Joe Cole and the Liverpool-biased popular media, the crowd act as a twelfth man for the team – and god do they need it right now. Henry need not worry about building a green monster in the stadium though. One, because it would make no difference to soccer apart from the ball not being lost into the crowd – ever, and two as they already have The Kop – arguably the most iconic stand in all of soccer.
One last factor, which Henry would have had in mind when joining the Red Sox, and will now be faced with at Liverpool, is the title droughts the two clubs were on when he joined them respectively. Obviously Boston’s was a lot longer at the best part of 90 years, and they too had their fiercest of rivals winning titles left, right, and centre, but if Henry and his backers are willing to fund Liverpool like they did in Boston then stranger things have happened in the world of football.
Many in Liverpool will tell you that a wait of almost 20 years is way too long for a club of their caliber to wait for a title, and maybe the purchase by these investors from a successful sporting background might be just what the club needs.