Gillett looks to Far East to promote Liverpool 'brand'

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The Independent Online

Liverpool will be expected to play promotional friendlies in Japan and China now they have been taken over by US sports moguls Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Rick Parry, the club's chief executive, has flown to the United States for talks about the club's future with their new owners, and he is likely to be told the "brand" needs to be promoted more in the Far East.

In a National Post interview in Canada, Gillett has been expanding his theory of how to get the best from the £450m investment he and Hicks have made.

"Liverpool is the No 1 brand in Europe. If you go to the Far East, where Manchester United has historically been the No 1 brand, Chelsea has recently become quite popular. They have a global branding concept which involves playing a number of games in the Far East.

"In that part of the world, Liverpool is No 2 and growing. We have had conversations with management in the last several months and I believe you will see Liverpool playing some friendlies in Asia. I think you'll see Japan first in this coming year and then others beyond that."

The likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United may well contest Gillett's view that Liverpool are the No 1 European brand, but there is a clear business decision being made on how best to promote the Anfield club.

Gillett continues: "We have looked at the possibility of branding in a different way, in that investments in soccer clubs in emerging parts of the world are part of our strategy." Gillett sees Liverpool as part of an umbrella branding of several sports.

He adds: "You have the Texas Rangers in baseball, which is hugely popular in the Far East, the Dallas Stars, the Montreal Canadians, Liverpool and our family's involvement with Nascar [motor racing]. You've got four unbelievably popular sports with growing international interest. There's a unique opportunity because the market is demanding it."

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