Wednesday, February 07, 2007

New owners compare 'Liverpool Reds' to Boston Red Sox..

Liverpool fans are today coming to terms with the news that their board have agreed to recommend the proposed takeover by George Gillet and Tom Hicks. Former players Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson have given their blessing to the deal saying it's good news and that most fans only care about winning and not who owns the club, but they do not represent the hardcore fans who have followed the club from the terraces, and somewhat surprisingly we've seen little public evidence of the hardcore fans venting their collective spleens about this deal, especially given the reputation of the city's militant labour force who've been involved in so many industrial disputes down the years. However, David Moores stayed away from the club yesterday...

I actually think this deal happened so fast that many have been taken by surprise at the speed of events and I strongly suspect many fans would have been delighted if the DIC deal had gone through, it didn't and now the club are entering into a period of change and to a degree uncertainty about the new owners and what they will do.

First impressions of the new owners were actually quite good as the duo took full advantage of the opportunity to give a live public press conference. However, there was several toe curling moments and some cause of concern as the word 'franchise' cropped up rather a lot and at one point George Gillett compared the deal to buying the Boston Red Sox, it was just like one of those Budweiser adverts on tv - comedy gold.

Perhaps of more of a concern was when asked where the money is coming from to purchase the new stadium, Gillett shrugged and laughed: “We don’t know yet”!

To cap it all the new owners claimed that making money was nowhere near the top of their priority list. Frankly that has to be an insult to the intelligence of any Liverpool fan.

The new owners have also made it known that they aren't averse to stadium naming rights, personally I see nothing wrong with this form of raising revenue - especially if it helps keeps the price of tickets down.

So what sort of revenue would the new owners be looking for from any stadium naming rights? The 'Liverpool Reds' might look to use Arsenal as a benchmark. The Gunners have recently moved from Highbury (AKA the Library) into the new Emirates Stadium, a deal worth £100m which runs until 2020-2021 and includes an eight year shirt sponsorship deal.

The fact that Liverpool's shirt sponsorship deal with Carlsberg runs until the end of the season gives the 'Liverpool Reds' owners the flexibility of offering the same sponsorship opportunities as Arsenal, who sold both the naming rights and their shirt deal to one sponsor.

However, Manchester United signed a £56m shirt deal over only four years with AIG.

So there's no doubt about it, the 'Liverpool Reds' franchise is one to watch re future developments on and off the pitch.

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