Liverpool came very close to being owned by another American businessman a few years ago, but Robert Kraft, a man who has overseen the resurgence of the New England Patriots in the NFL over the last decade, didn't buy the club because he felt that there were too many flaws with the way soccer was run in England to make it worthwhile.

In particular, he has identified the lack of a salary cap in the Premier League as a major factor in his decision not to buy the club. Kraft feels it makes the league a somewhat boring proposition in sporting terms, with teams unable to break the stifling grip of the top four clubs, something he perceives as basically unfair for the dedicated fans of remaining outfits.

"I wanted to do it," he told British daily The Times. "I met with David Moores [the former Liverpool owner], who is a fine gentlemen, and we came very close to buying it very close. But in the end, my instinct was that, without a salary cap, I wouldn't do it.

"I'd like to see a salary cap come to the English Premier League. If it did, I'd buy a team in a minute. We think we know how to run a sports franchise, and if were playing by the same rules, then it's not just about who has the most [money].

"I loved the fans. Just like Patriot fans, they are loyal, passionate, which has zero book value on your balance sheet but is worth a lot. I wasn't sure how we'd build a stadium, but we built one in Foxboro [Massachusetts] in 18 months so we know how to do it. But the more important issue was the salary cap. If the salary cap was there, then we would have done it.

"Green Bay, Kansas City or Arizona who went to the Super Bowl last year have to believe that they can win. In the Premier League you can see that there will always be a few teams that are dominant, and I don't know that it's fair to the passionate fans in the other cities."

As it turned out, Kraft's fellow countrymen George Gillett and Tom Hicks ended up buying the Reds, to the chagrin of a significant section of the Anfield support, who feel that the debts the duo have run up since their purchase represent a severe weakening of the club.

Nevertheless, Kraft revealed that he could be tempted by another club, if they became available.

"I would be interested in other teams in the Premier League, but Liverpool was a unique franchise, with a great following," he added. "The coach of my Major League Soccer team is Stevie Nicol, who played up there. We sort of have stuff sent to us all the time, but I think, deep down, until there's some sort of salary cap structure, I'm not sure it's a great business deal.

"I don't like to go into a team because of real estate. If you buy a team in a sports league, winning is the bottom line. You win, everything else comes. I want to be in a position to compete equally to win."

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