Exclusive Interview With Liverpool Chairman Tom Werner
Since December 1, 2010, Tom Werner has been the new chairman at Liverpool FC. Along with John Henry, Werner leads Fenway Sports Groups, the investment assembly that purchased the ailing Anfield club last year. Since, the investors have brought in new personnel and are turning things around at Liverpool. EPL Talk scored an interview with the LFC executive and asked him about the possibilities of naming rights, a tour of America, and much more
Alex Fairchild (AF): How does the Anfield experience compare to that of Fenway Park?
Tom Werner (TW): There are actually a number of enormous similarities. Both Anfield and Fenway Park are iconic stadiums. When watching games at both places, you can feel the history oozing from their foundations. Both are also extremely intimate and the supporters create an intensity that makes them special places to play.
AF: Your first match in charge of the club was against Everton. How does the derby compare to the Red Sox vs. Yankees rivalry?
TW: The crosstown nature of the derby is quite unusual because it is more like the Yankees vs. Mets than the Yankees vs. Red Sox. I have talked to supporters of Liverpool that are so committed to the Reds that their children are not allowed to play with children whose parents support Everton. That is quite an amazing testament to the rivalry between Everton and Liverpool.
AF: What percentage of FSG’s time is spent on the Red Sox and what percent of time is spent on the Reds?
TW: We have outstanding colleagues who focus on each of these clubs. The Managing Director of Liverpool, Ian Ayre, as well as Head of Football Operations, Damien Comolli, are in constant communication with John and me everyday.
AF: You and John Henry recently visited Bayern Munich’s stadium, Allianz Arena. Are you looking for a corporation to purchase naming rights to Anfield? If so, which companies are in the running?
TW: We are indeed looking for a naming rights partner in the event that we build a new stadium at Stanley Park. At the same time, we are also examining a renovation of Anfield, but there are lots of complications if we go in that direction. Emotionally, I think our fans would like to see Anfield expanded, but in the end our interests lie in creating additional capacity one way or the other.
AF: To what extent is your experience transforming the Red Sox into a MLB powerhouse helping you turn LFC around?
TW: I have said in the past that John and I are better owners at the Red Sox because of the experiences we had at the San Diego Padres and the Florida Marlins. I expect that our knowledge of running a first class baseball organization will give us useful experience that can apply to LFC.
AF: How does the European transfer market compare to that of MLB?
TW: While they are different conceptually, they both offer opportunities to dramatically improve your club. I feel that LFC is blessed to have Damien Comolli overseeing our activity in the transfer market and I think he has already made enormous strides in bringing in players such as Suarez, Carroll, Downing, Henderson, Adam, Bellamy, and Coates.
AF: Judge Damien Comolli’s performance over the summer. How would you compare him to Theo Epstein? Are you happy with the summer signings?
TW: As I said, these two are enormously gifted and I am delighted with the way that the two have gone about their business. Theo has been at this for almost 10 years and the results are clear. I would hope that 10 years from now, Damien will have performed as well at LFC and brought our fans a championship or two.
AF: Is an American tour in the near future? Will LFC play at Fenway Park?
TW: We have not yet made any final decisions about our plans next summer but we are hopeful that Liverpool will play at Fenway Park. Last year there was indeed a soccer match at Fenway and it was a well-received event. Imagine how exciting it would be if Liverpool played in Boston.
AF: Will plans to upgrade Fenway Park be suspended due to a lack of funding caused by the large amount of money spent at LFC since FSG’s takeover?
TW: We look at both LFC and the Red Sox as stand alone businesses managed by terrific professionals at each club. Nothing at the Red Sox is determined by money spent at LFC and vice versa.