Liverpool FC has won its court battle against sportswear brand New Balance, its current official kit supplier.
Justice Teare, the judge at the High Court in London, cited the status of rival brand Nike’s associated athletes and influencers as a key factor in his judgment that New Balance could not match the terms of Liverpool’s proposed deal with Nike.
New Balance sued the Premier League club after it emerged it was likely to be replaced by Nike upon the expiry of its deal with Liverpool, which runs until the end of the 2019-20 season. The brand claimed the club was refusing to honour a renewal clause that meant the pair’s agreement should be extended.
The Boston-based company argued it could match the terms Nike were offering.
However, the judge said: “I have concluded that the New Balance offer on marketing was less favourable to Liverpool FC than the Nike offer, because Liverpool FC cannot require New Balance, on the terms of its offer, to use global superstar athletes of the calibre of LeBron James, Serena Williams and Drake. It must follow that Liverpool FC is not obliged to enter into a new agreement with New Balance upon the terms of the latter’s offer.”
Following the trial, a club spokesperson 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.”
The Champions League holders are expected to put pen to paper on a five-season deal with Nike, which will pay a reported £30m ($38.5m) a year for the contract. This is a relatively low sum for a top-tier kit deal, but Liverpool is thought to be attracted by Nike’s marketing and distribution clout.