John Henry issued a video apology to fans and employees of the Liverpool Football Club early Wednesday morning, saying he alone as principal owner was responsible for thrusting the team into the ill-conceived and now abandoned European Super League project.
In a video accompanying the text of a letter posted on the LFC website, the principal owner of Fenway Sports Group sat in a down vest and plaid shirt with a bouquet of yellow and purple flowers behind him, speaking directly to the camera about his mistakes that sparked a revolt from the historic club’s diehard fanbase.
“I’m sorry, and I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days,” said Henry, who also owns the Boston Globe. “It’s something I won’t forget. And shows the power the fans have today and will rightly continue to have.”
Henry made it clear that it was the fans’ angry protests that dealt the plan its death blow.
The concept for a 20-team annual tournament that guaranteed bountiful revenues for its 15 founding members was also greeted with disdain from coaches, including Liverpool’s own Jurgen Klopp, players, and the sport’s powerful governing bodies, who threatened to kick out clubs and ban their players from international competitions.
Henry apologized to Klopp, CEO Billy Hogan, other employees, and the players.
“They have absolutely no responsibility for this disruption,” said Henry. “They were the most disrupted and unfairly so. This is what hurts most. They love your club and work to make you proud every single day.”
Henry conceded the plan was dead on arrival.
“It goes without saying but should be said that the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans. No one ever thought differently in England. Over these 48 hours you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you. I heard you.”
Before one last apology, Henry moved to a more upbeat note, signaling that the club is not done striving to improve.
“I know the entire LFC team has the expertise, leadership, and passion necessary to rebuild trust and help us move forward. More than a decade ago when we signed up for the challenges associated with football, we dreamed of what you dreamed of. And we’ve worked hard to improve your club. Our work isn’t done. 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.”
Wrapping up, Henry again spoke to the fans and promised them he would never forget what they mean to his team and every team.
“If there’s one thing this horrible pandemic has clearly shown, it’s how crucial fans are to our sport and to every sport. It’s shown in every empty stadium. It’s been an incredibly tough year for all of us; virtually no one unaffected. It’s important that the Liverpool football family remains intact, vital and committed to what we’ve seen from you globally, with local gestures of kindness and support. I can promise you I will do whatever I can to further that.
“Thanks for listening.”
Michael Silverman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.