Describing his dalliance with a failed European Super League as “the disruption I caused,” John Henry issued an apology to Liverpool fans, manager Jurgen Klopp, CEO Billy Hogan and the club’s players early Wednesday morning.
The principal owner of Liverpool Football Club and the Boston Red Sox through his Fenway Sports Group posted a video statement to the official Twitter account @LFC. Henry spoke for just shy of two and a half minutes, expressing his regrets for a scheme that threw European football into two days of chaos.
“It goes without saying, but should be said, that the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans,” Henry said. “No one ever thought differently in England.”
Liverpool were one of six English clubs poised to break ranks with the Champions League and establish a permanent continental schedule that featured no qualification process. Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham also signed on. The project was met with near universal condemnation from fans and pundits alike, with several current and former Liverpool players speaking out against it.
“Over these 48 hours you were very clear that it would not stand,” Henry said. “We heard you. I heard you. And I want to apologize to Jurgen, to Billy, to the players, and to everyone who worked so hard at LFC to make our fans proud.”
Klopp was left fuming while answering questions about the Super League before and after the club’s 1-1 draw at Leeds United on Monday. Liverpool’s luxury coach to Elland Road was met by protestors calling players and staff members scum and traitors for being part of a club connected with the Super League plans. So much of Liverpool’s history and current commercial value comes thanks to the six European championships it has captured, the most recent coming in 2019.
“I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days,” Henry said. “It’s something I won’t forget. It shows the power fans have today and rightly will continue to have.”
Club captain Jordan Henderson, city native Trent Alexander-Arnold and several other Liverpool players tweeted a united message expressing their displeasure with the project. Club legend Kenny Dalglish, a three-time European and six-time English league champion with Liverpool, also voiced his disapproval. Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, a member of the 2005 European champions and now a pundit on Sky Sports in England, questioned whether or not there was a way forward for Henry and his ownership group after such a grave misstep.
“Our work isn’t done,” Henry said. “And I hope you’ll understand that even when we make mistakes, we’re trying to work in your club’s best interests. In this endeavor, I’ve let you down.
“Again, I’m sorry.”
JP Morgan was retained to underwrite financing for the project, which was set to guarantee roughly $4.5 billion to the participants. Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus made up the six European clubs who were prepared to join the English contingent. Chelsea and Manchester City were first to announce they were pulling out of the deal — the rest followed swiftly in kind.
“We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen,” Henderson said in a statement. “This is our collective position. Our commitment to this football club and its supporters is absolute and unconditional.”
Henry and his former New England Sports Ventures purchased the club from fellow Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett for $477 million in October 2010. Later rechristened FSG, Henry’s ownership group resolved the club’s outstanding debts and oversaw a decade of growth that included the capture of a first English title in 30 years in 2019-20. Forbes estimated Liverpool’s current value at $4.1 billion as of April 2021.
Henry’s pursuits drew attention at Fenway Park following a 4-2 victory by the Red Sox against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night. Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts thumped the deciding three-run homer and appeared at his postgame Zoom conference wearing a red Liverpool match jersey. Bogaerts insisted his wardrobe choice was coincidental but, as an avid European football fan, said he didn’t understand the need for such reforms to the continental order.
“I don’t play soccer, but I like it the way it is,” Bogaerts said. “Why would you put so many of those awesome teams in one league?
“I saw one of the guys say the other day it’s special when Liverpool plays Real Madrid maybe one time a year or one time every four years in the Champions League, but now you’re going to play them every year? It’s kind of more special if it happens occasionally.”
Follow Bill Koch on Twitter: @BillKoch25