So we’ve known this has been coming for a little while now.
Liverpool have had an existing kit manufacturing relationship with New Balance for a number of years now. It all seemed to go smoothly, and they’ve offered plenty of money to see it continue. No brainer, right?
Wrong. The club have an offer of equivalent value from Nike, but it seems to be the view that the greater reach of that company would make it a more valuable long term deal than that from New Balance. And thus Liverpool looked set to announce a new agreement with Nike.
But the twist! New Balance believe they are contractually entitled to match any offer made by another supplier, and have done so. Liverpool do not see this as the case, and thus New Balance have taken the club to court over this. The Liverpool Echo report that the trial will begin in Liverpool’s High Court on Friday, October 18 and conclude on the following Tuesday, October 22.
Now, none of us have seen these contracts and have no idea who is legally in the right on this. The question with New Balance, formerly Warrior Football, was whether they’d have enough reach to get into enough shops around the world. Anecdotally, that doesn’t feel like it’s been a huge issue, though who knows what the actual figures are. Nike, however, is a sports clothing behemoth, and could surely outstrip whatever availability New Balance offer.
Personally, I’ll be a little sad if we move to Nike. New Balance kits haven’t always been a hit, but when they’ve been good, they’ve been outstanding. The notable thing is that effort has always been placed to make them look distinctive. Nike, on the other hand, have a frustrating record of producing identikit shirts for every club they deal with.
We’ll know soon enough who will be manufacturing Liverpool’s next kit.