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Robert Kraft, John Henry Among 50 Most Influential People In Sports Business

The Sports Business Journal has released its annual list of The 50 most influential people in sports business, and a pair of Boston owners made the cut.

SBJ admits that "This year, our philosophy in shaping the list was rooted heavily with an eye on labor and management relations" with an effort "to focus on the main negotiators." Which is likely why you see Roger Goodell in the No. 1 spot, with David Stern No. 3, Bud Selig No. 4 and DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFL Players Association, at No. 5.

The Patriots' owner, Robert Kraft, is No. 9, up four spots from 2009:

Robert Kraft has long been an influential owner, what with his three-time Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots and stints on the broadcast and labor committees. He is also incredibly connected in top social and political circles. Now, he appears to be positioning himself as the ownership vision of hope in the NFL labor talks, with his recent comments of optimism.

John Henry, owner of New England Sports Ventures, the parent company of the Boston Red Sox, came in at No. 26, also up four spots from a year ago.

With Fenway Park renovations now largely complete and the Red Sox, NESN and Fenway Sports Group each top-tier entities in their respective fields, John Henry in 2010 looked across the pond for further growth, leading NESV's high-profile $476 million purchase of Liverpool FC. Much needs to be done to revive the struggling soccer franchise and its outdated stadium, but early bets are Henry will find success where many American owners of EPL clubs have not.