THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Sox group tries to get a foot in soccer door

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / October 6, 2010

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Fenway Park hosted a soccer match between teams from Scotland and Portugal in July. Now it seems that John Henry’s interest in the beautiful game is going much deeper.

New England Sports Ventures, the holding company that owns the Red Sox, has made an aggressive bid to purchase an English Premiership League team, Liverpool FC.

The soccer team’s board of directors posted a notice on the official team website yesterday saying that “two excellent financial offers’’ were made. But Liverpool’s owners, Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett, are against the idea.

The board of directors is preparing for legal action to force a sale. Hicks, meanwhile, is seeking to have his son named to the board in an attempt to help block the sale.

According to a major league source, New England Sports Ventures is one of the bidders along with an Asian consortium. The finances of the deal are complicated by the amount of debt being carried by the team, a reported $445 million.

The competing bids are between $450 million and $475 million, according to news reports in England.

Henry did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Hicks, the financially troubled former owner of the Texas Rangers, purchased the team in 2007. He and Gillett have proven unpopular among fans of the Reds, as the team is called.

Forbes magazine ranked Liverpool the sixth most valuable soccer team in the world. The team, long a powerhouse, struggled in the 2009-10 season.

Henry, who has owned the Red Sox since December 2001, branched out into auto racing in 2007 when he purchased 50 percent of Roush Racing. The NASCAR group is now known as Roush Fenway Racing.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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