Liverpool owner John Henry could be about to sanction his biggest-ever acquisition

Henry has a close relationship with current Boston Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck.
-Credit: (Image: 2018 - The Boston Globe)

Fenway Sports Group (FSG) founder John Henry may have found his next investment opportunity after the Boston Celtics became available for purchase.

Henry, who now owns a whole portfolio of sports teams including soccer club Liverpool FC, has been eager to own an NBA team for over three decades and now has the perfect opportunity to do so. Henry has a major business interest in the Boston area, and after forming FSG (formerly known as New England Sports Ventures) the group purchased MLB team Boston Red Sox in 2002.

FSG later acquired The Boston Globe newspaper in 2013, and now has the opportunity to own the other biggest team in Boston, the Celtics. It was announced on Monday by the Celtics that the majority ownership group was looking to sell all team shares, hoping to agree with new buyers by early 2025.

Henry has been keen on owning a basketball team for decades and entered negotiations with the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, and New Jersey Nets during the 90s. This may be the best chance both he and FSG will get to own a current organization, but there is still major speculation an expansion franchise could be the primary focus.

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New England Sports Ventures (NESV) was founded in 2001 by Henry and Tom Werner, although it was later renamed to FSG as the group ventured out of the Boston Area. As a sole businessman, Henry had fleeted with the idea of owning an NBA team and both minor and major league baseball teams, but had a clean slate when forming FSG.

The Red Sox was the first purchase, and Henry soon took a major leap and took control of Premier League soccer team Liverpool. in October 2010. Three years later FSG acquired The Globe, and the most recent major purchase has been NHL team Pittsburgh Penguins, to which the investment group purchased a majority stake in December 2021.

While the vision at FSG is to keep adding, they sold a minority stake at Liverpool while retaining control to clear debts. The sale raised between $100 million-$200 million but was not reinvested, it was used to pay off outstanding fees FSG has incurred. While it was seen as a smart business decision, it also hinted that a fresh, larger investment could be coming.

Liverpool owner John Henry has been linked with a future NBA expansion, but could scrap plans for Boston.
Liverpool owner John Henry has been linked with a future NBA expansion, but could scrap plans for Boston. -Credit:Getty Images

Henry has a net worth of $4 billion according to Forbes, and has been looking to finally break into the NBA market. One of the greatest NBA players of all time, LeBron James, is an investor on the FSG board and has been an ambassador of Liverpool since joining the ownership group.

But the long-term vision was for LeBron to help with FSG's efforts when negotiating with the NBA. Henry has a poor track record when it comes to entering talks with active franchises, but his association with Boston could boost negotiations with the Celtics if a formal approach is made.

The Celtics have just won their 18th NBA championship, and the organization is valued at $4.7 billion according to Forbes. The location makes total sense for Henry and FSG, due to the ties it already has with the area, but there may already be a project in the works.

Las Vegas already hosts the NBA Summer League and has a successful WNBA team.
Las Vegas already hosts the NBA Summer League and has a successful WNBA team. -Credit:K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

FSG is one of the leading investment groups linked with owning an expansion franchise, with Las Vegas and Seattle the leading candidates. The prospect of FSG owning a Vegas franchise, with LeBron the face of all team marketing, seems like an ideal situation.

"We know they're getting the Vegas NBA team, that's happening. I don't know how many more times I can tell people that. LeBron's involved. That's happening," American sports podcaster and The Ringer founder, Bill Simmons, said on his podcast back in 2022.

Vegas was an avoided sports location until the NHL awarded an expansion in 2016, and by 2020 the formerly known Oakland Raiders moved its NFL team over to Vegas. The Oakland Athletics MLB team is set to follow, and the WNBA team Las Vegas Aces are dominating in women's basketball.

The NBA Summer League is already hosted in Vegas, and if FSG doesn't approach the Celtics, they're likely waiting on NBA commissioner Adam Silver to confirm the inevitable expansion. "We want to figure out what our media relationships are going to look like, but then we will turn to expansion," Silver said last year.