Fenway Sports Group can lay claim to two of the highest payroll sports franchises in the world, with the Red Sox coming in 9th overall (17th by average annual value) at $187 million and Liverpool 16th overall (14th by average annual value) at $150 million in a recent survey by ESPN and Sporting Intelligence.
It's a list led disproportionately by European soccer and American baseball teams, with the top 10 spots in both overall payroll and average annual value monopolized by the two sports. That will come as no surprise given that both leagues employ lax methods of salary control (the luxury tax in baseball and UEFA's toothless "Financial Fair Play" policy in European soccer) and feature large rosters. The Nets are the first team to appear from another league, coming in 11th in average annual value, but given the small size of NBA rosters, they're all the way down at #70 on overall payroll.
The numbers have the Red Sox as FSG's favored child, at least by dollars, but there's a lot more to both franchises than just payroll. The Red Sox, for instance, just dropped $60 million on Yoan Moncada that this doesn't take into account, while Liverpool spent £113 million on transfer fees this past year (and received some £75 million back from the sale of a single player in Luis Suarez).
Really, though, years removed from John Henry and co. buying into the EPL, there's little reason to be pitting the Sox and Liverpool against one another. The Red Sox' problems in their down years have not been due to a lack of investment, and if there seems to be an organizational philosophy against signing the largest (and more importantly) longest contracts, that's evidently borne of a desire to avoid being hamstrung by albatross contracts rather than a desire to keep payroll low since, well, it hasn't been.
As with the Red Sox, their efforts overseas have been met with mixed results. Liverpool hasn't claimed any silverware aside from the League Cup in 2012 (a tournament which, to be frank, is a bit of an afterthought), but they've come close to a big win in the FA Cup, and made their return to the prestigious UEFA Champions League this past season after a four-year absence. And, as with the Red Sox, there's been plenty of money put into the team throughout.
Of course, the Red Sox are not the top of the top in baseball. That prize belongs to the Dodgers, whose $272.8 million payroll dwarfs even that of second-place Paris Saint-Germain ($227 million) and closer to home, the New York Yankees in third ($219 million). The Tigers and Nationals actually even manage to pip the Red Sox on average annual value while trailing overall, likely due to the Red Sox accounting for a few players not actually left on their roster.