Adidas have said 'Adidios' (sorry) to Merseyside this week by failing to renew their six-year, £12m-a-season ($18.5m) kit sponsorship deal with Liverpool FC.
The German sportswear purveyors first produced The Reds' kit in 1985, but since falling out of the 'Big Four' to become 'a football team who don't qualify for Europe', Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer no longer feels the deal represents good value for money. The Guardian reports:
"The gap between their performance on the field and what the number should be is not in balance," Hainer told Bloomberg. "Then we said: 'OK we will not do it'. That's the end of the story. It all depends on the success and the effort and the popularity, the exposure on TV, revenue you can generate by merchandising.
"This all has to be brought in line between what you offer and what you get. We thought that what Liverpool were asking and what they were delivering was not in the right balance."
A company that does believe Liverpool is delivering the right balance of European football, however, is Michigan-based Warrior Sports, who have agreed to hand over £150m ($232m) for six years of kit sponsorship. That's more than double the value of the Adidas deal, and higher than Manchester Utd's £23m-a-year agreement ($35.5m) with Nike. Only Barcelona earn more by taking €31m ($41m) each year from Nike.
With the snarky and defiant tone we've all come to expect from Liverpool FC press releases, Managing Director Iain Ayre has metaphorically flipped the bird to Adidas and welcomed their new partner:
"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.
"[The Warrior Sports deal] is another landmark deal for Liverpool and once again shows the value of the club's brand globally.
"Warrior Sports will bring its own unique brand and ideas to the partnership, ensuring that they can assist us at the Club both on and off the field of play."
Warrior specialize in hockey and lacrosse apparel, and the kits they will produce for Liverpool in June will be their first foray into football. They're owned by Boston-based New Balance, while Liverpool are owned by Boston-based Fenway Sports Group (who also own the Red Sox). It seems you can afford to spend £35m on a substitute when you've got friends in New England to cover the loss...