Liverpool’s kit will face a major overhaul next season, as they will no longer be made by Adidas. They will instead be made by a company few in the UK will have heard of, Warrior Sports Inc. A quick look at their website shows that their main interests lie in ice hockey and lacrosse, although they have just launched their brand new website just for football.
Now forgive me if I am being dumb, but surely this was something that most Liverpool fans already knew. I mean I seem to recall way back before the season started that we were already going to be having a kit made by Warrior Sport, and that news actually came out before the new third kit was released. The reason I remember that little fact is that there were a number of people saying that Adidas were taking the piss with their last design for Liverpool by making it white with blue trim. Of course that third kit does hark back to the first kit Liverpool ever wore, but that was kit left over by Everton. The kit also, perhaps unsurprisingly, matched our new sponsors’ colours too, but can you blame Standard Chartered for at least asking?
So it came as a bit of surprise that this was brought up again in the last couple of days. It was somewhat frustrating as it was taking away attention of some fans from more important things. Then as I was trawling through various websites I came across a link to the Mirror article about Adidas saying that Liverpool were not good enough for them to renew their deal. Interesting opinion there Adidas, because you seemed to focus on one factor alone and that was Champions League football. True Liverpool were not in Europe this season, and they may possibly miss out next season, but at the end of the day surely the key factor is kit sales. After all, if you make the kit you want your kit to be selling heavily. That is after all where you make your money.
Now a quick read of this article, shows that Liverpool are (or at least were) Adidas’ second best shirt seller. If you then read this article, you will then note that Liverpool actually outsell Real Madrid when you take into account all the other Adidas gear sold (“other kit, boots, tracksuits and other clothing, bags and even club-branded balls”). So the lack of Champions League football really didn’t hurt sales that much it would seem. Of course if we then consider the fact that Liverpool have by and large only released a new home kit every 2 years, and you would figure the home kit to be the biggest seller, then this makes it seem even more impressive, as a number of other teams bring out a new kit every season. It is of course possible that the lack of European football make have dwindled those numbers, and therein may lie the problem for Adidas.
The deal Adidas had was to a certain degree a probably not the best for Liverpool. Sure at the time it was a decent deal with 12.5 million a season, but Adidas had the rights to all funds from overseas sales. I suppose for them that meant that people like myself, buying the shirt in Asia, were more important that those buying it in the UK. (That last bit does actually make me happy in the knowledge that my purchase of Adidas Liverpool stuff in no shape or form went to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum). So maybe, the lack of European football may have dented sales or Adidas may have thought it would dwindle sales. Of course there are plenty of “fans’ in the world that will support the most successful team at the time, so maybe there were a few shirt sales lost there. However, the fact of the matter remains that overall, Liverpool were still one of the best sellers.
What I think it really boiled down to is the fact that the new owners found themselves coming in at a good time in terms of the kit deal. They came in at the end, and they were able to look at the fact that overseas sales were doing nothing for Liverpool and decided to change that. I would assume that with American owners taking charge, they see their home market as a huge untapped market. Now, with their sporting connections there I would think they will do everything possible to bring the brand of Liverpool Football Club over to Boston and the rest of the US. If they were looking to make the most of that, a new deal would have to be struck whereby Liverpool Football Club at least got some money out of shirts being sold abroad. Adidas on the other hand no doubt felt that they liked the position they were in. They may possibly have agreed to doubling the amount per year, but it seems unlikely they would agree to both.
The new owners already have a team that uses Warrior Sports, and no doubt to a company like Warrior Sports they also see the potential here. As the MLS gets more and more popular in America with players like Beckham, Henry and Robbie Keane playing there, it is bound to have a knock on effect on the popularity of the EPL there. Some fans who maybe only watched MLS, may now be thinking about these players coming over from another league and thinking it may be worth watching. Now if an established US sportswear making company could also link themselves to one of those teams it gives them an extra edge. A fan of MLS football looking to start watching the EPL may decide (s)he wants to pick a team to support. They may not really know much about the teams, but there will be a number of factors that can play a small part in the team that they select to support.
Those factors could be anything from location of the team (I’ve heard of London I’ll pick Chelsea); team colours almost matching that of their own team; or possibly even success. However, there is also the factor of patriotism. Here is a new fan and he sees that one team has a US player in the team, or that the owners are the same as his baseball/hockey/football team and they think that’s the team for me. So maybe, just maybe, they’ll have their Warrior ice hockey gear, and when they go into the Warrior sport next time they’ll see that Liverpool shirt hanging up and they’ll think I remember watching those guys on TV in the EPL, and they buy the shirt.
It’s not all that far fetched, and with a market as big as the US, it could be outstanding for Warrior Sports. On top of that, short of them completely messing up the shirt and offending the majority of Liverpool fans they will sell the shirts purely because of the badge on the front. I mean look at how many people slated the 3rd away kit for having blue trim, yet sales for that kit have been decent enough. Hell, I’ll even admit to thinking it looks alright when I see it on TV.
So, thanks but no thanks Adidas. It was nice of you to come in with your impressive offer, but time has come for Liverpool to look after Liverpool and move on. There’s really no need for sour grapes, and if you are going to cry about it maybe next time think of a better reason…. and for the love of God please please try to bitch about it when the news was news and not months down the line. It’s almost like you’ve sat there in an office crying over it, and suddenly months down the line you’ve suddenly thought of a way to make it seem like you were doing it for the good of Adidas.