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SBD Global/August 1, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Liverpool Considers U.S. A Growing Market As More Companies Invest In Football, EPL

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Liverpool faced EPL rivals Man City at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Preseason tours are about growing a club’s fan base and establishing new partnerships or strengthening existing ones. They are also about preparing a team for the upcoming season. For Liverpool and CCO Billy Hogan, it is all about finding the right balance between both. “It’s obviously not a perfect science,” Hogan said. The Reds are currently on a preseason tour across the U.S. with stops in Boston, Chicago, N.Y., Charlotte and potentially Miami. The EPL side, which is owned by Boston-based Fenway Sports Group, says it has more than 20 million fans in the U.S. Former Liverpool player Robbie Fowler told SBD Global that it was great to see Americans embracing football during the World Cup. Fowler, who is an official ambassador for the club and currently traveling with the team, said, "It was refreshing, I’ve never witnessed it before over here, and when you come over here you can witness it firsthand." And it is not just the public. With U.S. companies starting to invest in football, and in particular in the Premier League, Hogan sees a tremendous amount of business opportunities for the club. “We do target those markets where we do have a significant fan base,” he said. “Partnerships are something that we are focused on and are more easily established when you have a significant fan base in the country.” Liverpool’s current sponsorship portfolio includes a number of U.S. companies like Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts. The deal with Dunkin’ Donuts, which was unveiled in January, shows not only the growing importance of football for U.S. companies, but also how beneficial it is for Liverpool to have an American ownership.
Billy Hogan
“The fact that we are part of the Fenway Sports Group is a major reason why Dunkin’ Donuts would choose to partner with Liverpool over other clubs that they might be considering,” Hogan said. The chain has longstanding partnerships with other FSG properties such as the MLB Boston Red Sox and regional sports network NESN. While Liverpool has no intentions of following other European clubs such as Bayern Munich or AS Roma in opening local offices, the club has staff working out of the FSG headquarters in Boston. Hogan said that this Liverpool-dedicated staff provides the club with a foothold in the U.S., and frankly in North and South America. Outside of the U.S., Liverpool looks toward Asia for commercial opportunities. The Reds have several regional and local partnerships with companies throughout Asia, with official training kit sponsor Garuda Indonesia being the most significant.

NOT NEW, BUT MODERN: As the team battles top European competition in the Int’l Champions Cup preseason tournament, back home in the U.K. the redevelopment of Anfield moves along. While the stadium expansion remains subject to planning permission, it is one of the most important projects that the club has undertaken in the last several decades, Hogan said. The £260M ($439M) Anfield project would increase the stadium’s capacity to 58,800. Though it is still less than ManU’s Old Trafford (75,000) or Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium (60,000), Hogan said the redevelopment will increase the club’s match-day revenue as well as providing opportunities for branding and partnerships. He added that the club is not looking for a naming-rights sponsor in the traditional sense. “I think that trying to rename Anfield would be difficult just because it’s part of the nomenclature of the club,” Hogan said. However, the club is looking to bring in a naming partner for the new main stand, for instance. FSG will try to take some of the lessons it learned from redeveloping another historic stadium, Fenway Park, across the pond to Liverpool. Hogan said that the goal is to keep the iconic nature of Anfield but at the same time add modern amenities.
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