Author Topic: The John W Henry Interview - Part One  (Read 95637 times)

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« on: October 29, 2010, 11:11:34 PM »
A week or so ago some of you contributed questions that you would like to ask our new owner.  Thanks to all of you who took time to do so, there were some great questions in there. So much so that the number of questions we sent over to him jumped from about ten to a rather weighty 23. 

Anyway, he has now been kind enough to send us the first batch of answers.  However, along with your questions a lot of you had things that you said that you would like to tell him. I passed many of these on.  The next post is the preamble to the questions along with your feedback.
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Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2010, 11:13:14 PM »
For the interview, we asked users to contribute questions that they would like to ask you if they got chance.  Many users also took the opportunity to leave feedback for you as well.  I have included some of the feed back below and then listed some of the more interesting questions.  Please feel free to answer as many or as few as you want and also feel free to use the reply to pass on any message that you might have for the fans, or ask any questions you might have for us.  Anyway to start us off here are some messages from fans:

"With modern football, in the UK at least, being ruled by owners with the deepest pockets, does he know that most level headed Liverpool supporters were looking for someone like him in charge, not necessarily the richest owner, but someone who, on first impressions, seems to be a quiet man, not willing to make crazy promises and grand statements about how we will be the biggest club in world football in 4 years?"

"I'd like him to know that most level headed Liverpool fans want an owner who allows the club to breathe, who slowly creates success on the pitch, which in turn creates success off it."

"I think I would respectfully ask if he can do his upmost to find another Sir John Smith to act as Chairman once Martin Broughton leaves.  The departure of Sir John; and his replacement by David Moores has lead us directly to the place we now are: stability comes from the very top - and that top man needs to be someone who is sufficiently distant from the players and management to make the impartial judgments that will be needed to turn the club around."
"I don't want any grand gestures early on, I want him acknowledging that he has some serious work to do. So far he's making all the right noises for me."

"I can't word it as a question, but I really would like to emphasise to him how important it would be to involve Kenny in our future in some capacity. He is the most precious human resource available to us."

"Please don't act like the previous owners and let us move forward into hopefully a few decades of success.  Don't underestimate the power of our support as fans."

"Please don't take your cues from the media. They are clueless and it will lead to our downfall."
"I hope it works out for you. If you are succesful here you will have some of the greatest nights of your life. "
"It's not a question that i want to put to him, it's a way for them to go about things.  And that's with respect. Respect us, the fans, respect our opinion, respect   our history (and with it, both the good times and the darkest of tragedies), respect our tradition, respect the city. If you can do that, the respect that we show you in return will be astronomical."

"Liverpool Football Club, above all else, has been built on excellence on the football pitch.  We don't care who you employ, where they come from, what language they speak - just make sure they're the best - chief executive, chairman, manager, players, coaches, tea ladies."
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Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2010, 11:21:52 PM »
So on to the questions, all these have come directly from fans on the site.  I have tried to group them into themed areas to make things easier.  I guess the first theme is Why Liverpool?

1. Given that financially there are far more reliable investments. What motivates you to invest in and buy sports clubs?
We are an organization filled with people who are driven to compete at the highest level.  There certainly are better investments than sports   clubs, but we know that everything we do has meaning to large numbers of   people.  And what we do has meaning for us.  We wake up every day   thinking about what we can do improve our chances of winning a championship.  It’s incredibly interesting and we really enjoy working together toward a common goal.

2. What was your motivation, individually and as a company, for buying Liverpool FC?  Was there one thing that sold the club to you?
We kept seeing the similarities to purchasing the Red Sox in 2002.    They’ve been recounted in the media.  But the most important issue for us was the ability to compete at the highest level in the world’s biggest sport.  Liverpool FC provides that opportunity.  I believe almost any sports fan would purchase a club, if they had the means.  We had the means – both financially and with regard to organizational   strength - to run one of the most coveted sports clubs in the world.    It’s a privilege.

3. It's naiive to think you made the decision to buy Liverpool FC without the input of any "football people". Care to name-drop those who   advised you during your due dilligence?
We did our own due diligence.  We don’t know English football, but we do know the sports business.  It’s been a very steep learning curve – but one that has been rewarding and interesting.  The structure of football in Europe is totally different from what we are used to.  It’s fascinating and challenging.  Now we are lucky enough to be meeting football people who can give us input.  Our biggest responsibility is to bring in the right people to the club on and off the field.


The next group of questions are unfortunately your inheritance from the previous owners.

4.  How have NESV funded the £300m acquisition?
This simple answer is that we paid cash for LFC and left £37 million of stadium debt in place – even though there is no stadium in place – just a lot of expensive plans etc.  We view stadiums as separate from clubs.  They are separate entities.

We have some very successful partners – some of whom are big EPL fans – and we are well-financed internally.  But NESV has always had debt from the first day we purchased the Red Sox.  We have some partners who look at   Internal Rate of Return and almost demand that we have debt as a consequence.  Debt increases IRR.

I recently read the New York Yankees have $3.5 billion of debt, but I’ve never heard a Yankee fan complain about it.  I’ve never heard a Red Sox fan complain about the usage of credit.  Credit is probably more acceptable in American   culture than elsewhere.  But you have some people that are good at borrowing money and poor at investing beyond that.  There are others – and we feel we are in this camp – have lines of credit etc., that are good at running businesses prudently and invest in those businesses.

In nine years of operation our partnership has yet to make a profit distribution.  We’ve only made tax distributions.  We’ve invested a quarter of a billion dollars into Fenway Park.  We’ve invested in players – second among thirty MLB clubs – over the last nine years.  We’re invested now in LFC and there is work to be done on the stadium front there as well. Other than the stadium debt mentioned above, there is no debt on LFC.  This   has greatly reduced interest payments which I believe were running close   to £40 million per annum.


5.  Is there a contractual commitment that non of the acquisition debt will be placed on the club?
No, none was needed.

6.  How does NESV intend to extract money to make a profit on this transaction?
That’s a good question.  With the club struggling, money I can’t foresee any profits being “extracted.”  Hopefully someday LFC will be worth more than it is today.

7.  What is the capital structure and cashflow of NESV, and how does it service its debt?
It’s a private company and we do not release financial information.  LFC, however, does release financial information annually.


The next batch are all about your plans for the club now that you have your feet under the desk...

8.  All of the questions I would want answered are to do with things he really needs to reflect on awhile. I'd be interested at this stage however, to know what his five key milestones for the next three years would be.
We are focused on getting the club positioned to win trophies within the Financial Fair Play rules that are being imposed next year.  That means off the field we are intent on increasing LFC revenues worldwide.  On the field we have to be smarter.  Arsenal and ManU have depth that is young and capable.  We do not.  We have a lot of work to do there.  A lot of work.  And we will, but we have to be smart about it.

9.  Liverpool FC needs a sustained period of stability.  Liverpool supporters will be patient as long as we can sense that we are moving in the right direction. How long are you planning on staying? Are we a long-term (10 years+) or a shorter term project?
Long-term.  Everything we do is for the long-term.

10.  Mr. Henry & co. - Liverpool Football Club has one of the largest fanbases in the world with passionate Reds in every corner of the globe. With the greatest of respect, the sport of baseball in which your team has achieved great success is a major sport in Northern America but is not comparable to Liverpool Football Club or the Premier League in terms of fanbase / viewing figures etc etc.  How do you plan to market the club globally and expand and enhance the club's profile worldwide in the future?
This requires a long answer.  Perhaps I should take a break and answer this and the other questions in the next installment.

©  RAWK and SaveLFC 2010
« Last Edit: October 30, 2010, 08:09:23 AM by Veinticinco de Mayo »
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Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2010, 11:37:06 PM »
Clearly we will post up the answers to the remaining questions as soon as we have them. 

I would however like to publicly thanks John W Henry for taking the time to come up with those honest answers to the first nine questions.  I would also like to thank Smithdown Andy once again for keeping the channels of communication open. 
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Offline Hazell

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2010, 11:40:33 PM »
Thanks for that. Good to have him engaging with the fans (I know he's done it in other ways as well).
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Offline SP

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2010, 11:47:50 PM »
Thanks for all concerned in pulling that together. Already the difference in class between our owners is shining through. I think this is the start of a beautiful journey together.

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2010, 11:49:32 PM »
Are we allowed to ask about the manager and voice 99% of fans concerns ?

The fact that you seem to think you represent 99% of fans automatically disqualifies you from the role of sane spokeperson on fan issues. 

Seriously though, please don't.  It is not the way to do it.  There are myriad threads on here and on other forums where threads can express their doubts and concerns about the manager.  Let's keep this one on topic.  ie let's debate NESV, their willingness to talk to us and the answers given to the specific questions.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 11:51:17 PM by Veinticinco de Mayo »
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Offline SP

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2010, 11:49:49 PM »
Are we allowed to ask about the manager and voice 99% of fans concerns ?

I would suggest not in this topic. The interview questions were about NESV and the acquisition, no the manager. There are countless Roy topics to vent your spleen in.

Offline shanks_legend

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2010, 11:54:01 PM »
This is no slight on Mr Henry or NESV, but I find it staggering that theres no contractual obligations stopping them from at some point in the future, loading the aquisition debt back onto the club.
If he retires I'll eat my fucking cock.

Offline kindalen

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2010, 11:55:08 PM »
thanks to j henry, am sure your having a look at the responses...
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Offline Stussy

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2010, 11:56:33 PM »

Well in, VdM.

Appreciate him answering the questions.
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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2010, 11:57:24 PM »
Well done all involved and encouraging to see Mr Henry engaging with the man on the street. :)

Very much looking forward to seeing how NESV reconstitute the top end of the club and also how their promise of being "smart" translates into player recruitment.

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2010, 11:57:55 PM »
This is no slight on Mr Henry or NESV, but I find it staggering that theres no contractual obligations stopping them from at some point in the future, loading the aquisition debt back onto the club.

I think that the point he was making is that to do so would be counterproductive as it would mean that the club was once again unable to compete.  If the club cannot compete then it will not make the most of the commercial opportunities and will not accrue in value in the way that they would like (or the way the Redsox have for instance).  In short it is in their own best interest not to do so.
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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2010, 11:58:14 PM »
VDM,

Thanks for getting the questions to the owner...it's good to see he is being pro-active and making an effort to reply. In all honesty, most wouldn't bother but he did and that is brilliant of him to do so.

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Offline Stussy

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2010, 11:59:30 PM »
This is no slight on Mr Henry or NESV, but I find it staggering that theres no contractual obligations stopping them from at some point in the future, loading the aquisition debt back onto the club.

He says that NESV purchased the club with cash. Presumably, that means there is no acquisition debt, as such.

Also, it would go against the model with which they are trying to grow the club.



« Last Edit: October 30, 2010, 12:01:07 AM by Stussy »
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Offline Ben_

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2010, 12:03:22 AM »
Continues to sound good.

"Smart"
The match kicks off in 30 minutes ya silly twat


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Offline kaffy

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2010, 12:04:31 AM »
This is brilliant. Great work by all those involved and many thanks to you all for doing this. I'm impressed by Mr Henry already - long may it continue.
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Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2010, 12:04:42 AM »
Right folks. Please don't derail this into a manager thread.  I'll only have to delete it all in the morning. 
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Offline shanks_legend

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2010, 12:05:02 AM »
He says that NESV purchased the club with cash. Presumably, that means there is no acquisition debt, as such.

That £300 million has to have come from somewhere. The 'cash' has to have been sourced from somewhere, the equity taken out of some asset, somewhere along the line. He talks of NESV always having carried some debt. I'm just playing devils advocate here - What if theirs, or one of their primary investors' cirumstances were to change? What if there was another economic downturn 5 years down the line? What if there was a world war? Surely it would have been prudent having just come out of what we've come out of, to have something concrete put in place to ensure the club itself remained, for the most part, debt free.
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Offline TSC

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2010, 12:06:34 AM »
Decent stuff.  Be interesting for him to come back on Q10 after a period of reflection.

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #20 on: October 30, 2010, 12:06:37 AM »
I think, in all seriousness mate, if there is a world war then we will have other things on our minds.
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Offline Slick_Beef

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #21 on: October 30, 2010, 12:06:39 AM »
Thanks for that, it's wonderful to have a line of communication open with the owner and good of him to take the time to answer, I hope we can keep this up over the years. Looking forward to part 2.
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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #22 on: October 30, 2010, 12:07:34 AM »
he's impressing me 



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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #23 on: October 30, 2010, 12:09:49 AM »
That £300 million has to have come from somewhere. The 'cash' has to have been sourced from somewhere, the equity taken out of some asset, somewhere along the line. He talks of NESV always having carried some debt. I'm just playing devils advocate here - What if theirs, or one of their primary investors' cirumstances were to change? What if there was another economic downturn 5 years down the line? What if there was a world war? Surely it would have been prudent having just come out of what we've come out of, to have something concrete put in place to ensure the club itself remained, for the most part, debt free.

I think it is very difficult to get a legally binding arrangement that no debt can ever at any stage be placed on the club. All we can hope for is that they, as they have said,  are fully committed to winning.  Also, as he mentions, the new fairplay rules would prevent the club having debts like we had under the previous ownership.
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Offline Lucas21

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #24 on: October 30, 2010, 12:10:42 AM »
Thanks VdM,

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #25 on: October 30, 2010, 12:12:32 AM »
Thanks for posting, it's very encouraging that he's happy to engage with fans.

Offline Stussy

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2010, 12:15:40 AM »
That £300 million has to have come from somewhere. The 'cash' has to have been sourced from somewhere, the equity taken out of some asset, somewhere along the line.

I understand that.

In the best case scenario, presumably the arrangement for the capital either does not require any debt to be accrued, or for the raising of the capital to be restructured by being placed on the club in the manner in which H & G loaded up on loans and shifted them straight onto the books. However it has been raised, it hasn't been done by going in hock as the previous owners did. Also, their model for increasing the value of the club depends on the debt not being a burdensome factor in that matter.

("That’s a good question.  With the club struggling, money I can’t foresee any profits being “extracted.”  Hopefully someday LFC will be worth more than it is today.")

Its right to be asking these questions though.
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Offline Skuzzlebutt

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2010, 12:15:48 AM »
Well done everyone involved. Massive thanks should also be given to John Henry for taking the time to answer our questions. It means a lot to us to be listened to. Can't wait for part 2 now.
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Offline SmithdownAndy

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2010, 12:16:48 AM »
This is no slight on Mr Henry or NESV, but I find it staggering that theres no contractual obligations stopping them from at some point in the future, loading the aquisition debt back onto the club.
I'm in the process of recounting the meeting we had with Mr Henry, and the events leading up to it, and will answer that in due course, but like Kev mentioned earlier I don't think it's in the interests of NESV to load purchase debt on the club for the reasons Kev gave, the answer he did give us to that was very interesting.
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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2010, 12:20:34 AM »
That £300 million has to have come from somewhere. The 'cash' has to have been sourced from somewhere, the equity taken out of some asset, somewhere along the line. He talks of NESV always having carried some debt. I'm just playing devils advocate here - What if theirs, or one of their primary investors' cirumstances were to change? What if there was another economic downturn 5 years down the line? What if there was a world war? Surely it would have been prudent having just come out of what we've come out of, to have something concrete put in place to ensure the club itself remained, for the most part, debt free.

Why play devils advocate? All the "what if's " serve only to muddy the waters when JWH is trying to be transparent.

The club was purchased from the combined resources of the NESV investors. Might be wrong here but think their group consists of 17 people who put their own money in?  Naturally people are wary of debt after the last 3 1/2 years but Henry has stated several times that no debt was used to purchase the club. He made a point of mentioning a few weeks back that NESV initially considered a bid of debt + cash but eventually dropped the idea.

Re: the reference to using debt, it's part and parcel of what makes the modern world tick. Every well run business utilises credit. What hampered the club in recent years was diverting the clubs own income to service interest on other peoples debt (i.e. G&H).
« Last Edit: October 30, 2010, 12:24:41 AM by Gareth »

Offline SmithdownAndy

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #30 on: October 30, 2010, 12:22:01 AM »
Well done everyone involved. Massive thanks should also be given to John Henry for taking the time to answer our questions. It means a lot to us to be listened to. Can't wait for part 2 now.
Our thanks have been passed on to Mr Henry for taking the time to answer our questions honestly and openly, well the first 9 anyway, I'm sure he'll be back with the rest soon, but he is a busy man as I'm sure we all know. We never would have had this with the last owners though so I'm sure we can all appreciate him taking the time to do this.
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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #31 on: October 30, 2010, 12:31:06 AM »
This is brilliant! Thanks to VdM, SmithdownAndy, anyone else who aided, and, of course, Mr. Henry. It is extremely encouraging to see how willing they have been to engage with supporters. I hope this continues and can't wait to read the next portion of the interview. Thanks again to everyone!
Justice For The 96

Offline Terry de Niro

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #32 on: October 30, 2010, 12:32:55 AM »
Excellent work lads. Looking forward to reading the rest of it.
"If you can't support us when we lose or draw, don't support us when we win"

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Offline Seebab

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #33 on: October 30, 2010, 12:34:18 AM »
Our thanks have been passed on to Mr Henry for taking the time to answer our questions honestly and openly, well the first 9 anyway, I'm sure he'll be back with the rest soon, but he is a busy man as I'm sure we all know. We never would have had this with the last owners though so I'm sure we can all appreciate him taking the time to do this.

Nice one. Good job. Thanks for posting VdM
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Other folks get it anyway anyhow

Offline NornIron!!

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #34 on: October 30, 2010, 12:34:51 AM »
Good read
As poppy petals gently fall
Remember us who gave our all
Not in the mud of foreign lands
Not buried in the desert sands

In Ulster field and farm and town
Fermanagh lanes and drumlin'd Down
We died that violent death should cease
And Ulstermen might live in peace.

Offline Stanno06

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #35 on: October 30, 2010, 12:39:22 AM »
I must say that the way they have conducted themselves so far leaves me optimistic for the future. We shall see.
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Offline liddellpool

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #36 on: October 30, 2010, 12:43:45 AM »
Brilliant work by all.

Two things interest me.

6.  How does NESV intend to extract money to make a profit on this transaction?
That’s a good question.  With the club struggling, money I can’t foresee any profits being “extracted.”  Hopefully someday LFC will be worth more than it is today.

An admission (?) that his group won't be taking a dividend (but does anyone from a Football Club?). But that one day he may sell at a profit. I am happy with that, given that if he builds us up into a power once more, we will be worth more. And I want us to be a power.

Secondly,

8.  All of the questions I would want answered are to do with things he really needs to reflect on awhile. I'd be interested at this stage however, to know what his five key milestones for the next three years would be.
We are focused on getting the club positioned to win trophies within the Financial Fair Play rules that are being imposed next year.  That means off the field we are intent on increasing LFC revenues worldwide.  On the field we have to be smarter.  Arsenal and ManU have depth that is young and capable.  We do not.  We have a lot of work to do there.  A lot of work.  And we will, but we have to be smart about it.

On the field we have to be smarter. This screams of a Director of Football figure, not to build the club in the guise of it's manager, but to have the first team manager work within the ethos of the club. And for a man clearly well versed in the art of simple understatement, I do like the phrase 'young and capable'.

Offline 12/10

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #37 on: October 30, 2010, 12:43:50 AM »
great post vdm , agree with every word of your opening statement , welcome mr henry and nesv . i,m looking forward to a long happy relationship with you . as to shanks legend,s concerns - realise 1 key point shanks nesv = 17 members each contributing approx 17 mil each  i dont see any circomstances where they,ll feel the need to re-voke their investment given their individual wealth . this is and will be a very rewarding investment for them emocionally and financially , hopefully they,ll experience some of the truelly remarkable nights we have spent watching our team in the very near future , leading to what we have! -----  LFC coursing thru our vains   ;D

Offline Demandred

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #38 on: October 30, 2010, 12:48:02 AM »
Just wanted to say thanks for this to all who were involved.
So far I'm very optimistic, with a hint of cynicism learnt from the past. I can't wait until that leaves me!

Offline humph77

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Re: The John W Henry Interview - Part One
« Reply #39 on: October 30, 2010, 12:49:33 AM »
Great work and thanks for getting this info from our owner(s) fellahs - interesting read and encouraging for the future.

Don't know what I take most pleasure in, this or the previous owners final squirming lying interview.