With a six-year, $18.5 million sponsorship deal coming to an end, everyone expected Liverpool to sign a new contract with Adidas, which has supplied the Reds since 1985. But Adidas was having none of it, claiming the numbers Liverpool asked for would be more in line with a club that has a few trophies with less than an inch of dust on them.
It's all about the money, of course. But Herber Hainer, CEO of Adidas, couldn't resist getting in a dig at the team which really hasn't won anything since Istanbul, and that was a fluke, and it was seven years ago, time to move on.
"The gap between their performance on the field and what the number should be is not in balance," Hainer said. "Then we said, ‘Okay we will not do it. That's the end of the story.'"
It's not close to the end of the story. Merchandising rights are tied to winning, sure, but they're even more closely tied to the brand. The Cowboys are consistently the top-selling team, despite having as many playoff wins over the last 15 years as the Texans, or Tim Tebow. And Liverpool did more than enough over the first hundred years of its existence to position itself as a global player.
[Liverpool managing director Ian] Ayre said: "We are disappointed that Adidas seem to point to a lack of European football as reason not to agree a new deal and cannot see that we are on par with the biggest football brands in the world."
Liverpool gets the last laugh, today signing a six-year deal worth a whopping $230 million. That's second in the world, behind only Barcelona. And the supplier is an American company, Warrior, whose parent company has a deal with the similarly Fenway Sports Group-owned Red Sox. Now that's synergy.