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Volume 6 No. 217

Marketing and Sponsorship

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.

Cristiano Ronaldo "is also known to fans by the shorthand CR7, prompting the company behind his line of sleek underwear to target a Rhode Island man who has trademarked the letter-number combination," according to Andrew Chung of REUTERS. In a complaint filed Monday in Rhode Island federal court, 43-year-old fitness enthusiast Christopher Renzi said that "he had received letters from lawyers for the Danish company JBS Textile Group demanding he give up the trademark because it had 'imminent plans' to enter the U.S. market with Ronaldo's CR7 underwear." JBS "has also asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel Renzi's trademark, according to court documents." Renzi "is seeking the court's declaration that he owns the trademark." Renzi's attorney Michael Feldhuhn said, "We just want them to leave us alone." Renzi "registered the moniker in 2009" (REUTERS, 7/30).

Malaysian bank CIMB has made teenagers Irfan and Ikhsan Ahmad -- the sons of former Singaporean football player Fandi Ahmad -- its "first signings" as the bank marked its maiden venture into football sponsorship, according to THE STAR. The 17-year-old Irfan and Ikhsan, 15, "inked a one-year deal, believed to be a six-figure sum, with CIMB." The sponsorship deal "will enable the two brothers to complete their studies and football training in Santiago, Chile." Irfan and Ikhsan "are now with 10-time Chilean Premier League champions Universidad Catolica" (THE STAR, 7/31).

The Baku 2015 European Games Operation Committee announced McDonald's as an official supporter of "next year's historic sporting event on July 31," according to Nigar Orujova of AZER NEWS. The partnership will see co-branding within McDonald's restaurants and marketing campaigns "tailored to deliver messages about the inaugural European Games throughout Baku and the whole of Azerbaijan." In addition, McDonald's "will promote the European Games across Azerbaijan through in-store messaging, Games-related competitions, and a specially designed Baku 2015 European Games variety menu." The in-store marketing campaigns in all of the McDonald's restaurants in Azerbaijan "will reach out to approximately 750,000 customers per month." Baku 2015 "will be the first ever European Games" (AZER NEWS, 7/31).

The Polish FA has finalized "a commercial partnership" with betting company Star-Type Sport. The deal will kick in at the start of August and will run until after Euro 2016, "taking in Poland’s qualification matches for the tournament" (SOCCEREX, 7/31). ... Sporting goods company Gilbert announced an extension of its partnership with Super Rugby side Melbourne Rebels and the Victorian Rugby Union. This new agreement will see Gilbert become the official and exclusive ball and equipment supplier across all representative levels of Victorian Rugby for the foreseeable future (Melbourne Rebels). ... Tire firm Black n Rounds has signed up to become the home shirt sponsor of League Two side Oxford United this season. Witney-based firm Isinglass is on the away kit "for the second successive season." There "will also be new logos on the back of both shirts, with the firms due to be announced shortly" (OXFORD MAIL, 7/31). ... The Women's British Basketball League announced Molten as its official ball sponsor for the inaugural '14-15 season. As part of a range of benefits, Molten will provide balls from its G-Series to WBBL clubs for use in all WBBL competitions as the new league prepares to tip off (WBBL). ... Liverpool and online Forex trading company InstaForex announced a two-year partnership that will run until the end of the '15-16 season. InstaForex will become an official partner of the club in Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The new alliance will see InstaForex offer LFC experiences to its customers who are fans in these markets, including tickets to see the Reds play at home in Anfield (Liverpool).

Bundesliga club FC Nuremberg has signed a new shirt sponsorship deal with furniture producer Wolf Möbel. In addition to having its logo featured on the teams' jerseys, Wolf Möbel will receive ad space on boards in camera view and cam carpets. The deal was brokered by the club's marketing partner Sportfive (FC Nuremberg). ... German Hockey League (DEL) club Hamburg Freezers agreed to a deal with hockey equipment retailer Schanner until the end of the '16-17 sesaon. Schanner will provide helmets, pants and gloves to players as well as goaltender gear and bags starting this season (Hamburg Freezers). ... The German Golf League (DGL) has extended its title sponsorship deal with Kramski GmbH for another year through the end of '15. Kramski has been the league's title sponsor since '13 (DGL). ... Second Bundesliga club FC St. Pauli renewed its sponsorship deal with energy drink Relentless for another year. Relentless has been the club's energy drink partner since the '10-11 season (FC St. Pauli). ... Second Bundesliga club Fortuna Dusseldorf has extended its partnership with the Tulip Inn Dusseldorf Arena for another two years. The hotel, which is located inside the Esprit Arena, has been a partner of the club since its opening in '07 (Fortuna Dusseldorf).