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FSG Anfield plan poses a question that Liverpool must answer

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Liverpool’s managing director, Andy Hughes, spoke with the Liverpool ECHO recently about an array of topics relating to the financial health of the club.

One of themes brought up during the course of the interview was the renovation of the Anfield Road stand, which will bump up the official capacity at Anfield to over 60,000, and whether there has been any negotiations or progress over naming rights.

“There is no real update at the moment [on the naming rights],” said Hughes. “But there’s a lot of different things that we can do around sponsorship and in terms of the specific lounges.

“If you look at what we have done in the Main Stand, then that is the sort of thing we’re looking at now, but nothing specific as of yet.”

The trend of stadium naming rights in football appears to be on the downfall.

The concept was born in the USA in the 1950s, with a plethora or baseball and NFL stadiums all being renamed in the ensuing decades.

But the idea didn’t really take hold in football until the 2000s when an influx of international owners flooded the European and English game.

Arsenal’s stadium that replaced Highbury has been known as Emirates Stadium since its inception in 2006; Bayern Munich’s stadium has been known as the Allianz Arena since 2005, when Allianz, Bayern and 1860 Munich agreed on a 30-year deal; Juventus new stadium was known as the J Stadium for several years after first opening in 2011, but Allianz also bought their naming rights in the summer of 2017, and it’s now officially known as the Allianz Stadium.

There are various examples of name branding within the game across the world. But are they becoming a thing of the past?

Tottenham has been looking for a naming rights sponsor for their new stadium since it opened two years ago. However, as of now, chairman Daniel Levy has been unable to reach an agreement with a blue-chip company for the kind of figures he’s seeking (reportedly around £25m per season).

Barcelona and Real Madrid have been searching for naming rights for the Santiago Bernabéu and Camp Nou for years, as both are in the process of renovating their stadiums, but no deal has ever been struck. Atletico Madrid are the only big side in Spain with a current naming rights deal in place, with Chinese IT outfit Wanda at £8.4m-per-season.

The same applies in Italy, with Juve the only big side with a deal in place. In the Premier League, Man City join Arsenal as the only sides with existing deals.

The Bundesliga is the outlier, with over 80 per cent of the league’s stadia sponsored by companies. This is undoubtedly a consequence of the 50+1 rule that hamstrings German sides from receiving outside investment.

The effects of the pandemic, with fans not allowed to congregate inside stadiums for 18 months, meant companies were not exactly going to find value for money in agreeing to deals with football clubs for naming rights.

Given the historic and romantic value of the Anfield name, it’s highly unlikely that the club would ever hand over naming rights of the stadium to a corporation. Perhaps a stand could be renamed in the future, but as Hughes highlighted, there’s no progress on that front at the moment, and it is not the easiest time to try and get something done on that front.



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