Liverpool and the business of 'hope'

When you're not winning - you need to sell sponsors something else...

BY Joseph Conroy 14:50 Thursday 2 February 2017, 14:50 2 Feb 2017

Dave Thompson AP / Press Association Images

Liverpool may have given up their chance of winning this year’s Premier League, but the club remains one of the largest in the world in terms of commercial, and particularly sponsorship opportunities.

It’s been owned since 2010 by the US Group, Fenway Asset Management, owners also of the Boston Red Sox Baseball team.

John Clarke, Senior Vice President, Sales with Fenway is responsible for  the group’s sponsorship activity he joined Vincent Wall on Breakfast Business.

"I've always used a phrase - you sell winning or you sell hope," he told Newstalk.

He comments that the owner's goal is to develop a relationship with sponsors and followers which means that financial and fan support remains constant whether the club is winning or losing.

"It's not like the stock market for us," Mr Clarke added, as he said that sponsorship prices for Fenway's teams do not rise and fall based on on-field success and championship victories.

However - he does concede that often, "Winning cures all" in the sports business.

According to the Deloitte Money League - Liverpool is the 9th richest club in the world. It comes ahead of the likes of Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan.

Manchester United climbing back to the top of that league reflects that fact that commercial income is playing a bigger and bigger role in the business of football - regardless of how a team is performing.

When it comes to bringing in cash John Clarke says that the club cannot become too dependent on individual superstars and that it is selling, "the front of the jersey not the back" when approaching companies.

However, he highlights Liverpool's recent campaign with Nivea, which involved some of the club's top stars, as an example of when star power can be used effectively by both the club and a brand.

Mr Clarke also revealed that Liverpool is in talks with a number of parties who are interested it the naming rights for Anfield's new main stand.

When asked whether Asian buyers were still  interested in a stake in the club he replied that he couldn't comment and that the issue is "well above" his pay grade.


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