Liverpool FC win High Court battle against New Balance

25 October 2019, 12:29

Liverpool won the battle against the American sportswear giant
Liverpool won the battle against the American sportswear giant. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Liverpool FC won a High Court battle with American sportswear giant New Balance over a multi-million pound sponsorship deal.

The Premier League club refused to honour its reported £40 million-a-year deal with the company, which expires in May next year.

New Balance has made and designed the current European Champions' kit since 2011 and was entitled to renew its sponsorship if it matched the terms of a rival firm's offer.

The north-west team were offered a £30 million-a-year deal with Nike in September which is less than its current contract.

However, the club argued Nike's deal will bring greater value in terms of marketing and distribution which New Balance cannot match.

Liverpool will be sponsored by Nike at the start of the 2020/21 season
Liverpool will be sponsored by Nike at the start of the 2020/21 season. Picture: PA

Mr Justice Teare ruled in Liverpool's favour, saying "the New Balance offer on marketing was less favourable to Liverpool FC than the Nike offer."

The brand were then ordered to pay 20 per cent of the club's £555,126 costs, equating to £111,025.

New Balance immediately applied for permission to appeal against the judge's ruling, however this was dismissed as he was "not persuaded there is a real prospect of success."

He added Nike's ability to use "global superstar athletes," such as tennis' multiple Grand Slam winning Serena Williams and basketball super star LeBron James, to promote the Liverpool brand could not be matched by New Balance.

"It must follow that Liverpool FC is not obliged to enter into a new agreement with New Balance," Mr Justice Teare said.

New Balance's deal with Liverpool costs £40 million each season
New Balance's deal with Liverpool costs £40 million each season. Picture: PA

A spokesman for the Merseyside club said: "Liverpool FC is pleased with the judge's decision to rule in favour of the club following the legal dispute with our current kit supplier, New Balance.

"We will continue with New Balance for the current season, in combination with preparing next season's Liverpool kits with our new supplier."

Daniel Oudkerk QC opened the sportswear company's case last week, saying the key issue was whether they had matched "the material, measurable and matchable terms of a third-party offer."

The football club's legal representative, Guy Morpuss QC, responded saying Nike's offer to sell licensed products in "not less than 6,000 stores worldwide, 500 of which shall be Nike-owned" was an improved deal.

However, Mr Oudkerk said New Balance has "approximately 40,000-odd retail doors globally."

Mr Morpuss dismissed the number of stores as a myth, saying the company had "grossly overstated" the number of stores it could distribute to.

New Balance have been approached for comment.