On Friday, it was revealed that Liverpool will be signing a new kit deal with American firm Warrior Sports when their current supplier’s contract with Adidas expires in 2012/13. The biggest revelation from the deal is that the Reds will be getting £25m a year, taking over Manchester United’s deal with Nike (£23m a year) as the biggest kit supplier deal in British football.
Liverpool are currently the fourth largest replica shirt sellers in the world, with 900,000 sold per year, only trailing behind Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid. The Reds deal with Warrior Sports will be the first football shirt deal for the American company, who are little known outside of the United States.
So who are Warrior Sports? There were set up in the 1992 by former champion Lacrosse player David Morrow. Since, they have been at the forefront of new Lacrosse equipment and jerseys, becoming the first supplier to develop titanium shafts for Lacrosses sticks. They eventually branched out into Hockey, but they have yet to breakthrough into any other sports.
So how, you may ask, could they afford to outbid global giants Adidas for the right to make Liverpool replica shirts? In 2004, they were taken over by American Sportswear firm New Balance. New Balance have been going since the early 1900s, and are most famous in the US for developing footwear for athletes. New Balance grew steadily as a company and is now worth over $1billion, which is still only a tenth of the size of both Nike and Adidas. The American company, in addition to acquiring Warrior, has also bought out Dunham, PF Flyers, Aravon and Brine Sporting Goods.
The connection to New Balance for Warrior is crucial though, as they are a New England based firm, which will certainly have heavy business connections around Boston. It is no coincidence that the Liverpool deal, quickly followed one that saw Warrior Sports take on the role of manufacturing kits for the Boston Red Sox.
It seems then that Fenway Sports Group connections to American businesses was crucial in this bumper deal. There is a no real connection between a Lacrosse kit supplier firm and Liverpool other than FSG, and the massive marketing potential of Liverpool, and the exponential rise in their brand awareness around the world, must have been enough for Warrior to cough up the record £25million a year.
Although New Balance and Warrior Sports are small compared to Nike and Adidas, the fact the Reds will have no competition from other football teams, means the benefits could be hugely mutually beneficial. While the Reds get a massive kit supplier deal with a big firm fully behind them, Warrior Sports will get a massive benefit from their name being spread throughout the world by Liverpool FC.
Tremendous credit must go to FSG and the Reds marketing team for pulling off such a deal; a deal which would not have been possible a year ago.
David Tully is the editor of Live4Liverpool.com
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