Red Sox Owners In Deal For English Soccer Team

Oct 7 2010 | 11:53am ET

Hedge fund honcho John Henry and his Boston Red Sox partners are poised to buy English soccer team Liverpool Football Club.

New England Sports Ventures, the Red Sox holding company, has agreed to buy the debt-ridden team for US$477 million. But Liverpool’s current owners, including private equity veteran Tom Hicks, have vowed to fight the sale.

Hicks and co-owner George Gillett, who each own half of Liverpool, say they have canned two of the directors who approved the deal and replaced them with people close to Hicks who will reject it. Liverpool Chairman Martin Broughton, however, says the two—who have rarely agreed on anything else—don’t have that authority.

“The board decided to accept NESV’s proposal on the basis that it best met the criteria we set out originally for a suitable new owner,” Broughton said. “NESV’s philosophy is all about winning and they have fully demonstrated that at the Red Sox.”

The sale, if it goes through, will cap an awful year-and-a-half for Hicks, beginning when his sports team holding company defaulted on more than US$500 million in loans, which was first reported by FINalternatives. Hicks has since sold his Texas Rangers baseball team and is seeking a buyer for his Dallas Stars hockey team.

Henry, who runs Boca Raton, Fla.-based managed futures shop John W. Henry & Co., bought the Red Sox in 2002 and has since led them to a pair of World Series championships—the team’s first since 1918. NESV also owns a NASCAR racing team and Fenway Sports Group, a sports-marketing firm that owns a minor-league baseball team and counts the English Premier League’s Fulham Football Club as a client.


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