SBJ/Nov. 8-14, 2010/This Week's Issue

FSG sees potential in Liverpool

Fenway Sports Group plans to take an active role with sponsorship sales for its new sister operation, Liverpool FC.

While New England Sports Ventures, parent company for both entities as well as the Boston Red Sox and New England Sports Network, is still assimilating the English Premier League club into the corporate portfolio, FSG sees a big sales opportunity with the soccer team.

“There’s definitely going to be a tremendous amount of two-way leverage coming out of this,” said Sam Kennedy, FSG president and one of several executives on the deal team for NESV’s $480 million acquisition of the club last month.


GETTY IMAGES

NESV’s John Henry (left) and Tom Werner
will not get involved in club operations.

Kennedy drew comparisons for the potential with Liverpool to FSG’s work with the PGA Tour Deutsche Bank Championship. FSG represents the event in a sales and marketing capacity.

“We gained additional sponsors for the Red Sox, such as State Street Corp. and EMC, out of that relationship, and they each now have title sponsorship rights to areas within Fenway Park,” Kennedy said. “It’s definitely gone the other way around, too, where we’ve brought Red Sox sponsors to the Championship. That’s the type of collaboration we try to foster, and we see that happening certainly with Liverpool as well, and now on an even more global scale. … Having Liverpool is unquestionably a big, powerful and important asset to have as we talk to blue-chip companies.”

A high-profile jersey deal, however, will not be needed. The club this past summer began a four-year deal with London-based bank Standard Chartered worth more than $30 million annually.

Despite FSG’s intent to become involved with Liverpool’s corporate sales efforts, club operations will remain under its England-based management, including commercial director Ian Ayre. Similarly, FSG and NESV have not added or assigned any American personnel to work solely on Liverpool matters.

Kennedy, FSG managing director Billy Hogan and NESV executive Joe Januszewski will take the lead on the FSG side in working to support Ayre’s efforts.

“Ian has done a tremendous job in his short time there of revamping the commercial operations,” Kennedy said. “He and his team have dramatically increased revenues since his arrival just three years ago.”

Kennedy, echoing earlier comments from NESV’s John Henry and Tom Werner, said no decision has been made whether to pursue a rehabilitation of Liverpool’s aged home stadium, Anfield, or pursue a new facility.

“This now is very reminiscent, very analogous, to 2002 and the early days of our looking at Fenway,” Kennedy said, referencing what ultimately became a nearly decade-long, $285 million renovation effort. “Part of our immediate job with Liverpool is to examine all of our options, and it’s going to take some time to do that homework. It’s definitely way too early to say whether we’ll renovate or build.”

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