John Henry becomes familiar face in UK media

John Henry’s cigar-chomping celebrations after Boston’s World

Series victory in 2007 figured prominently in British newspapers

Thursday after the Red Sox owner emerged as the prospective new

owner of Liverpool football club.

While newspapers welcomed the possible departure of Liverpool’s

current American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. after a

turbulent three-year reign, the media offered a generally positive

view of Henry and his New England Sports Ventures.

”These new Yanks will knock your Red Sox off” was a headline

in The Daily Mail, one of a number of papers praising the sporting

track record of Henry and his two NESV principals, Tom Werner and

Larry Lucchino.

The Times’ back page had a black-and-white picture of Liverpool

captain Steven Gerrard, except for his socks which were kept red –

the club’s colors. The paper also said NESV would be a better fit

at Liverpool than Hicks and Gillett because the Boston group

brought two World Series titles to the Red Sox since taking over in

2002.

”The most significant highlight on the CVs of the new trio of

wannabe Reds is that they have experience of taking over creaking,

old and once successful sporting institutions and bringing back the

good times,” The Times said.

Both The Times and The Sun compared Boston to Liverpool in a

host of cultural areas – New Kids on the Block vs. the Beatles and

Boston baked beans vs. lamb stew – as well as their respective

records on the field.

The Independent described Henry as ”a businessman first, a fan

second. And that’s worked out just fine for the Boston Red

Sox.”

”We all know what Henry is at Anfield for,” The Daily

Telegraph said. ”It’s not to sate some childhood passion for

Liverpool Football Club … If Henry and his business partners want

to reap a rich harvest they must tread carefully, distancing

themselves from their loathed compatriots Tom Hicks and George

Gillett.”

But there remains a sense of caution, with some of the papers

claiming Liverpool fans fear things won’t change under new American

owners.

The banner headline in the Guardian’s sports section read:

”Exit Americans. Enter Americans.”

”Better the devil you know, it is widely observed, than the

devil you don’t,” columnist Richard Williams wrote.

The takeover still faces a legal challenge from Hicks, who is

fighting the proposed 300-million pound ($477 million) sale of the

debt-ridden club in the High Court. Hicks wants about twice that

much.

There was little sympathy for the current owners, with The Sun’s

back-page splash reading: ”Gillett and Hicks had one final chance

to walk away with their heads held high. Now they leave

humiliated.”