SBD/April 22, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Liverpool Inks EPL-Record Kit Sponsorship With Warrior Sports

Warrior Sports will begin producing Liverpool shirts for the '12-13 season
EPL club Liverpool has landed the "biggest kit deal in the history" of the league, securing a US$41.3M-a-year contract with Warrior Sports, according to Andrew Kennedy of GOAL.com. The agreement doubles the US$19.8M deal the club currently has with adidas, which "opted not to match the offer." The deal also surpasses the previous British record of US$38.5M annually paid by Nike to Manchester United. Warrior Sports, a subsidiary of Boston-based New Balance, is "prominent in the lacrosse world." The company "will take over production of Liverpool shirts in time for the 2012/2013 season, with the agreement believed to a be a long-term contract" (GOAL.com, 4/22). In London, Ben Smith notes Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s owner, has in recent months become "increasingly close" to New Balance Chair Jim Davis. New Balance earlier this month announced a multiyear partnership with the Red Sox. The Liverpool agreement with Warrior "would appear to have solved the short-term cashflow problems caused by failure to qualify" for the UEFA Champions League. Liverpool’s "defection has come as a huge blow" to adidas. According to German market research company PR Marketing, Liverpool is the "fourth-biggest replica kit seller in football." About 900,000 shirts are sold annually; only Real Madrid sells more jerseys for adidas (LONDON TIMES, 4/22).

FRESH START: In London, Tony Evans writes under the header, "Anfield Exults In American Idols After Idle Americans." Liverpool last year was "riven with dissention and debt" under former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. The "erratic owners, a lame-duck manager, clueless executives and unhappy players gave Anfield an air of decay and chaos." But in the six months John Henry and FSG have had control, the "landscape has changed." The "malign elements behind the scenes have been discarded and those with energy and ability promoted and utilised." The Warrior kit deal "proves FSG can get things done" (LONDON TIMES, 4/22).
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