In the celebratory catharsis of Liverpool embarrassing Newcastle to the tune of six-nil at St. James' Park following two painfully dull draws that put an end to the club's European aspirations and an even more painful week dealing with the fallout of Luis Suarez biting Branislav Ivanovic, news that Anfield might soon find its name changed—or at least appended—managed to slip largely under the radar.
"The goal was to sponsor a big English club with a huge history," explained a spokesman for Qatari telecom giants Ooredoo to Al Jazeera, revealing his firm's interest in a club-encompassing sponsorship deal. "Our search included Arsenal and Manchester United, but the former two have long sponsorship deals and the same applies to Manchester City, so Liverpool is the only club available right now.
"We want to sponsor the club in full. We want to sponsor the stadium as well as the club's kits. Our goal is to reach the Asian markets, where the Premier League has an enormous fan base. We received the tender from the club a few days ago and we are currently in the process of due diligence and we are studying each aspect of the study.
"It is a dual interest, Liverpool needs the money to compete with the European heavyweights and we want to expand our brand to reach new markets via football."
Liverpool currently have a year and a half remaining on the shirt deal signed with Standard Chartered after Fenway Sports Group took over, and though previous reports suggested the club had offered the financial services firm a period of exclusivity to negotiate an extension, it would appear that there is now at least one other player in the shirts-rights sweepstakes.
Most surprising, though, will be the suggestion that Ooredoo are seeking to agree some form of sponsorship deal that would involve Anfield, which FSG has said in the past would not be renamed. Appending the name in some manner that maintains the Anfield name would appear the only possible course for the owners if they wish to avoid a massive fan backlash, but even then it is an unexpected development.
With their determination to improve the club's on-field competitiveness through lucrative sponsorships and partnerships, though, perhaps it shouldn't be. And it's hard to argue with the reality the Ooredoo spokesman sets out at the end of his statement—Liverpool do need money if they want to compete with the best in England and Europe, with the likes of Chelsea, the Manchester clubs, and even Arsenal currently having access to far greater financial resources.
If such a deal takes place, it would represent the first big push into English football by Qatari interests, with the influential micro-state already exerting a major financial influence on Spain and France's football leagues by way of PSG, Barcelona, and the failed rags-to-riches story that is Malaga.