Liverpool Football Club today confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets of this season when they made their upcoming deal with Adidas official.
Adidas and Reebok are close to becoming the same company once all the legal formalities are complete, but even without that being done the club have confirmed that their shirt sponsors will change from July onwards.
The club statement, on the official website, read: “Liverpool Football Club and adidas have confirmed a new sponsorship deal which comes into effect from July 2006. Under the terms of the agreement, adidas will become the Official Sportswear Supplier to the Club. The partnership is a natural alliance between the number one football brand and the current UEFA Champions League winners, and will see Liverpool FC provided with the latest, most advanced sportswear.”
Liverpool’s chief executive Rick Parry says of the deal: “We had a very successful partnership with adidas in the 1980’s and are delighted to be teaming up with them again. Adidas has a fantastic football heritage and we know that we will work well together. We are looking forward to producing a range of products that the fans will be proud to wear.”
The Adidas brand president and CEO, Erich Stamminger said: “Adidas has a long tradition of working with the top football clubs globally, and Liverpool has always been one of the World’s leading teams. Most fans will know our previous proud heritage with the Club and that we have delivered some of their most iconic shirts to date. We are delighted to have the opportunity to reignite this relationship and build a long and dynamic partnership going forward.”
Ever since the August announcement of the Adidas-Reebok merger there have been rumours about Adidas taking over the Liverpool FC deal. Liverpool’s current deal with Reebok had been expected to be in place for some time – when the Reds launched the new Champions League kit in the autumn it was said it would be the kit used by Liverpool for European games for two seasons, but rumours before Christmas seemed to contradict this.
Despite earlier feelings that Liverpool would continue to wear Reebok until the shelf-life of the existing Reebok kits had come to an end, talk of Adidas starting to supply Liverpool started to be rumoured. The Liverpool home kits were due to change at the end of this season in any case, having been in use for two seasons, and away kits always change on an annual basis, with the previous away kit being “relegated” to a third-choice kit. As long as the Adidas-Reebok merger was completed before new kits had to be released then there was only the European kit to worry about, and so talk of a new kit deal started to emerge.
Liverpool had gone one step further than waiting for the kits to “expire”, and in addition were protecting their own interests by demanding a better deal if they were to change all their kit from Reebok to Adidas. A new deal had been agreed that Adidas would be the new brand name to appear on Reds shirts from season 2006-07 onwards, with the rumoured figure constantly bandied about for the deal as £130million. Whether this figure is true or not it’s likely to be dependent on success, but even so it’s not an insignificant amount.
Pictures of the new kits have been widely circulated already on the internet, believed to have come from a trade exhibition in the Far East. The pictures show both playing kit and training kit, along with some images of leisure items. If these are to be the new Liverpool kits, Liverpool of course retain the red shirt as their home kit, with yellow coming back again as the away kit.
One of the big criticisms to hit the commercial side of the club this season has been the failure to supply adequate numbers of the special European kit, but with the kit now set to be retired at the end of the season it perhaps explains why the Reds decided against making any extra quantities available.