Henry backed to be success at Liverpool

LONDON, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Potential new Liverpool owner John W. Henry has been given a ringing endorsement by two names in American football who said Reds fans, bruised by their current trans-Atlantic arrangement, should welcome him with open arms.

The Premier League club have accepted a 300 million pounds offer from New England Sports Ventures (NESV), who also own the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

"The fans of Liverpool should be excited," Dave Checketts, owner of Major League Soccer (MLS) team Real Salt Lake, as well as NHL St Louis Blues, told the Leaders in Football conference on Wednesday.

"What this group did with a legendary franchise, the Red Sox, which was moribund when they bought it, with an outdated stadium.

"They put $150 million into the stadium, they spent on players, they made the team competitive.

"From a business perspective they've done a superb job. From a PR perspective - superb - and they got success on the field.

"I think they'll repeat the model at Liverpool and I think they'll be outstanding."

MLS commissioner Don Garber was similarly upbeat about Henry, whose takeover still has several hurdles to clear before any deal is completed.

"They (NESV) have a tremendously robust understanding of the sports business and how to protect and enhance the legacy of the historic brand," Garber told reporters at the Leaders conference.

"There is something called the Red Sox Nation, a brand supported by fans going back generations, similar to Liverpool supporters. The ownership has not only graced that but enhanced it and renovated the stadium, they have brought modern technology to improve the fans' experience.

"Fans thought they would never see success but they love these guys. They have put championship teams on the field and managed their enterprise with an eye to profitability."

Current Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who have launched legal action to try to block the takeover, have long been unpopular with the club's fans and Checketts said it was easy to understand why.

"I don't think they built relationships with fan groups, I don't think they listened," he said.

West Ham United chairman David Gold took a similar view of the duo, who rarely appeared at Anfield and whose governance of the club has led to widespread demonstrations.

"You neglect the fans at your peril. That's clearly been one of their problems, you never see any kind of interaction, and I think they are paying the price for that," he said.

"The fans are absolutely against them... they didn't deliver on their promises.