Nike will be Liverpool’s kit supplier starting in the 2020-21 season. Probably. That’s been the rumour for some time, one that appeared confirmed yesterday. And it now appears fact Liverpool and Nike have agreed a deal. But that may not be the end of it.
That’s because New Balance have a grievance—they believe they have the right to match Nike’s offer and that they have done so, and that as such that they should still be Liverpool’s kit supplier going forward. And so they’re taking that grievance to court.
And New Balance do have the right to match any deal, but the suggestion is that Liverpool’s decision to go with Nike—despite New Balance having matched their offer—is based on the fact that New Balance cannot match Nike’s larger distribution network.
The question, then, is just how the clause allowing Liverpool’s current kit supplier to match any new offer is written—whether all that matters is the top line dollar figure, or if they need to show that they can in fact match all aspects of Nike’s offered new deal.
One would expect that it is in fact the latter and that the club believe what Nike brings to the table, even at the same dollar figure, is a clear point of separation. But of course, that New Balance are willing to take it to court rather suggests otherwise.
It could also simply be a case of New Balance, desperate not to lose their marquee football client that provides them a foothold in the sport, are making a desperate last-ditch effort to retain Liverpool even if they don’t believe their chance of success is high.
“In line with our current contract, we have matched the offer made by Nike,” read a statement from New Balance. “As part of the renewal process, LFC has called into question elements of the agreement and as such we are asking the courts for clarity.”