High Court set to rule on multi-million pound Liverpool FC sponsorship dispute
The High Court is set to rule on a multimillion-pound sponsorship dispute between Liverpool FC and sportswear giant New Balance.
The club is being sued over its alleged refusal to honour the terms of its reported £40 million-a-year deal with the company, which expires in May 2020.
Under the terms of the deal, New Balance is entitled to renew its sponsorship if it matches the terms of any competitor's offer to sponsor Liverpool kit.
But the current European champions, who have been offered a £30 million-a-year five-year deal by Nike, argue that New Balance cannot match Nike's offer in relation to the marketing and distribution of Liverpool products.
Mr Justice Teare will give his ruling on the dispute in London on Friday morning.
Opening New Balance's case last week, Daniel Oudkerk QC said the key issue in the case was whether New Balance had matched "the material, measurable and matchable terms of a third-party offer".
Liverpool argues that New Balance has not matched Nike's offer, which includes a commitment to sell licensed products in "not less than 6,000 stores worldwide, 500 of which shall be Nike owned".
But Mr Oudkerk said New Balance has "approximately 40,000-odd retail doors globally".
In his written case, Mr Oudkerk argued that Liverpool dismissed New Balance's offer to match terms as the club was "wedded to Nike", and that "it appears that the club had resolved to reject the New Balance match come what may".
Guy Morpuss QC, representing the club, argued that the claim was "really an attempt by New Balance to use a matching clause for a purpose for which it was never intended".
He said New Balance's contention it could distribute Liverpool kit to 40,000 stores was "a myth", adding that the company had "grossly overstated" the number of stores it could distribute to.
"The idea that New Balance would even get football kit into anything close to those 40,000 stores is utterly fanciful," Mr Morpuss added.
In written submissions, Mr Morpuss said that New Balance's claim to be able to match Nike's 6,000-store offer was "inconsistent with New Balance's historic performance" and "manifestly implausible", adding that the company had used "a series of artificial devices to pretend that it could reach the 6,000 figure".