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Liverpool’s principal owner John W Henry has taken full responsibility for “disruption” caused by the Reds’ involvement in the proposed European Super League and has apologised to the club’s fans for letting them down.
Henry addressed supporters in a video message posted by the club on Twitter on Wednesday morning, after the Merseyside outfit and the other ‘big six’ Premier League sides announced on Tuesday night that they have withdrawn from the hugely controversial project.
The American businessman acknowledged the breakaway competition would only have worked with fans’ full support and said he alone was responsible for the “unnecessary negativity brought forward over the last couple of days”.
“I want to apologise to all the fans and supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the disruption I caused over the last 48 hours,” he said.
“It goes without saying but should be said, the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans.
“No-one ever thought differently in England. Over these 48 hours you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you. I heard you.”
Henry spoke of the “hurt” being felt and also apologised to manager Jurgen Klopp, his staff and players “and to everyone who works so hard at LFC to make our fans proud”.
“They have absolutely no responsibility for this disruption,” Henry said. “They were the most disrupted and unfairly so. This is what hurts most.
“They love your club and work to make you proud every single day. I know the entire LFC team has the expertise and passion necessary to rebuild trust and help us move forward.
“More than a decade ago when we signed up for the challenges associated with football we dreamed of what you dreamed of and we’ve worked hard to improve your club.
“Our work isn’t done and I hope you understand that even when we make mistakes, we’re trying to work in your club’s best interests.”
Henry said he took full personal responsibility for “the unnecessary negativity” and that fans had displayed their “rightful power”.
“In this endeavour I’ve let you down and I’m sorry and I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the last couple of days,” he said.
“It’s something I won’t forget and shows the power the fans have today and will rightfully continue to have.
“If there’s one thing this horrible pandemic has clearly shown, it’s how crucial fans are to our sport, and to every sport – it’s shown in every empty stadium.
“It’s been an incredibly tough year for all of us, virtually no-one unaffected, and it’s important the Liverpool FC family remain intact, vital and committed.
“From what we’ve seen of you globally, with local gestures of kindness and support, I can promise you I will do whatever I can to further that. Thanks for listening.”
Former defender Jamie Carragher welcomed the apology but questioned whether it would make much of a difference to the fanbase Henry has now alienated.
Fenway Sports Group managed to recover from an unsuccessful bid to raise ticket prices in 2016 – abandoned after fans protested – and last year’s furloughing of staff without too much damage to their reputation.
However, Carragher thinks this latest move may be one step too far.
“I don’t see where they go from here, the owners,” he told BBC Radio Merseyside.
“They apologised: that may make a difference but I even think long term it will be really difficult for them.
“It doesn’t meant everything is forgiven and we forget everything that has happened but maybe it is a small start.
“It’s how that goes with the supporters in the future, how they feel about him owning their club.
“They have made mistakes along the way but this being the biggest one it’s just whether supporters can ever forgive them for it.
“At the end of the day it is his business, he owns it. He’s not just going to walk away. I think it will take a very long time for this to heal.”
Liverpool supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly, who waged an instrumental campaign against FSG’s dysfunctional predecessors Tom Hicks and George Gillett, refused to accept Henry’s apology.
“Spirit of Shankly have always asked for honesty, integrity and transparency from club owners FSG, but the arrogance and deception they have shown behind this money-grab is frightening. But not surprising,” said a statement.
“We have noted John Henry’s apology, but this PR exercise is too little too late. These crocodile tears will not wash.
“Our owners have thrown everyone under the bus, supporters, manager, players and staff, and humiliated themselves through sheer greed and arrogance.
“This debacle must be a catalyst for real change, not an exercise in damage limitation.
“We need a fundamental change in football governance, one that is fair for the whole football pyramid, not just the rapacious elite.”