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Glory and fury – Liverpool, Boston and a tale of two teams

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John Henry sits on a stool on stage at a Boston Red Sox fans' event alongside three other club officialsJohn Henry sits on a stool on stage at a Boston Red Sox fans' event alongside three other club officials
Henry (far left) faces up to Boston Red Sox fans at an event in January

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The boos came as soon as John Henry started his answer. “It’s expensive to have baseball players,” said the 74-year-old in his soft, raspy accent.

On the evening of 20 January, it would not be the first, or last, time that jeers would fill the air of a Massachusetts casino.

After being pitched a question about why Boston Red Sox tickets were so expensive, Henry had to pause three times to allow the dissent to subside and finally explain his thoughts.

The die-hard Red Sox fans, who had turned up at the team’s annual ‘Winter Weekend’ event to hear from players and officials, were not shy in making their feelings known as Henry sat on a bar stool on the stage.

The Red Sox have won four World Series titles in the past 20 years – more than any other team in Major League Baseball over that time – but the fanbase is far from content. And Henry, principal owner of Fenway Sports Group – which owns the Red Sox and, among other things, Premier League football club Liverpool – was the target of much ire.

The next day, across the Atlantic, Liverpool played out a dour 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Anfield. It was the Reds’ only Premier League point during a terrible January, which wrecked their hopes of a top-four finish.

They were knocked out of the FA Cup at Brighton the following weekend, and a 6-2 aggregate defeat by Real Madrid brought the end of their Champions League campaign and their last hope of winning a trophy.

For a constituency of Liverpool fans, blame for the disappointing season lay with FSG.

The owners have been on the front foot on both sides of the Atlantic.

In an exchange of emails with the Boston Sports Journal in February, Henry said there was a “false narrative” around the Red Sox and FSG’s spending on the team.

A month later, he spoke to the Liverpool Echo.

“Our efforts every day have been and continue to be focused on the long-term health and competitiveness of the club,” Henry said.

“Investment in the club is never for the short-term.” He added: “Our commitment remains stronger than ever.”

It hasn’t convinced everyone.

Liverpool and Boston may be separated by an ocean but are united by a common complaint from a section of supporters – that miserly ownership is holding their team back.

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Much has been made of similarities…

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