Liverpool today announced that from the 2012-13 season; Warrior Sports will become the clubs kit provider. The deal is reportedly £25m per season, a record for an EPL club. This figure is about twice what Adidas currently pay Liverpool and more than Nike currently pay Man United (£23.4m).
I’d never heard of Warrior Sport until today. The media here are reporting they’re based in Boston, but their website says Warren, Michigan (though they are a subsidiary of New Balance, who are based in Boston, and who recently signed a deal with the Red Sox). Warrior makes Lacrosse and Hockey apparel and equipment, so it appears that Liverpool will be their first foray into the football market. It could prove to be lucrative business for them too, German market research company, PR Marketing, found that Liverpool have the 4th best shirt sales globally, with only Man United, Real Madrid and Barcelona selling more. With only Real of those teams in the Adidas stable, Liverpool’s defection will be a big loss.
The reception here in Liverpool has been mostly sceptical. People are concerned that Adidas are a well-known brand with a proven track record and going with Warrior means taking too big a leap into the unknown. People seem to be under the impression that shirt sales will suffer due to having a ‘new’ brand providing them.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never bought a kit based on who the manufacturer is. I buy Liverpool kits because it’s a Liverpool kit, not because Adidas or Reebok made it. So I can’t see how the doubters who believe shirt sales will suffer as a result of changing the provider. Ok, the shirts will no longer be available in Adidas stores, but there are many other places you can buy them from and I’d bet that many people just buy online anyway.
What may be advantageous to Liverpool is that with Liverpool being Warrior’s first football team, all of their energies should be devoted to Liverpool, whereas a brand like Adidas who have deals with many clubs, are spread more thinly. Warrior will want to use Liverpool as an example to show to other clubs that they can deliver, so will pull all of the stops out to make it a success.
I don’t see that there’ll be problems with distribution. Warrior has over a year to get the distribution networks in order, and I’m sure Liverpool wouldn’t have signed unless they were sure that Warrior could deliver.
The big attraction of course is the money. John Henry said that Liverpool will only spend money it generates, which with the Financial Fair Play regulations coming into force soon, is a good thing. Unfortunately, with Liverpool facing an uphill struggle to qualify for Europe next season, most of the money will probably be used to cover the shortfall in revenue that having European football brings, but hopefully next season things will be better on the pitch, so this money will be used to build the club.