Liverpool owner John Henry 'ecstatic' by FSG decision amid search for Jurgen Klopp's replacement
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Fenway Sports Group (FSG) principal owner John Henry is said to be 'ecstatic' that Theo Epstein has returned to the business.
It was announced earlier this month that Epstein had rejoined FSG as a senior advisor. His background is in baseball as he guided the FSG-owned Boston Red Sox to two World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 respectively when serving as general manager. The first triumph broke the "Curse of the Bambino" that ended the Red Sox's 86-year wait for a title.
Epstein then became president of baseball operations at the Chicago Cubs in 2011. He engineered the Illinois-based outfit's first World Series title in 108 years when they claimed the crown in 2016.
Recently, Epstein has been serving as a consultant for the MLB and joined Arctos Sports Partners - a minority partner of FSG - in 2021.
But he's returned to FSG at a crucial juncture. Not only have the Boston-based group expanded their portfolio, having spearheaded a consortium called the Strategic Sports Group to invest in golf's PGA Tour, but they face pressure to deliver on both sides of the Atlantic. The Red Sox have missed out on the MLB play-offs for the past two years and fans' frustrations are growing.
Meanwhile, FSG have the huge task of replacing Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager. In January, Klopp announced the shock news that he will leave the Anfield hot seat at the end of the 2023-24 season. In his eight-and-a-half years in the role, Klopp has overseen the Reds' return to the European elite, having won six major trophies including the Champions League and Premier League.
FSG president Mike Gordon is leading the recruitment hunt. The Athletic reports that Epstein will likely 'be consulted by Gordon and Liverpool leadership on Klopp’s replacement'. Epstein was still at the Red Sox when FSG (then New England Sports Ventures purchased the Reds for £300 million in 2010 from much-maligned duo Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
And his return has delighted Henry, Gordon and FSG chairman Tom Werner. Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy told The Athletic: "Given the desire to win everywhere, we viewed this as tripling down on our commitment to winning.
“If our teams and clubs aren’t winning, there’s nothing to talk about. No one knows better how to win than Theo.
“It took him some time. And he started to get excited about building a new skillset as an ‘executive coach’ of sorts, getting involved in multiple sports and as an owner. He became excited about it. John, Tom and Mike were ecstatic about the concept of having him."
Xabi Alonso is the current frontrunner to succeed Klopp. The former Liverpool midfielder, who helped the club win the Champions League in 2005 against AC Milan - dubbed the Miracle of Istanbul - is presently in charge of German outfit Bayer Leverkusen. Last weekend, Die Schwarzroten earned a 3-0 victory over Bayern Munich - who have won the past 11 Bundesliga titles - to move five points clear at the top of the table.