Ian Ayre relaxed over Liverpool finances
Thursday 19 January 2012
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre believes the club's vast global appeal gives them the financial muscle to absorb revenue lost from missing out on European football.
This season is the first since 1999/2000 that the Reds have not competed on the continent and the second in succession they have not been involved in the Champions League.
The race for a top-four place is as competitive as ever with Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle the three main rivals for one spot with Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham seemingly engaged in a three-way title race.
However, Ayre believes the "landmark" new six-year kit deal, reported to be worth a staggering £150million, just signed with United States-based company Warrior shows Liverpool are still a force to be reckoned with regardless of the team's short-term fortunes.
"Performance on the pitch definitely affects business but the difference with truly big football clubs, globally-recognised clubs, is we have sustainable revenue whether we are playing in the Champions League, Europa League or not," he told Press Association Sport.
"That can't go on forever but what is important is that we don't fall apart as a business and we don't fall apart when we don't have a year playing European football.
"Likewise, we don't fall apart as a brand because of that either.
"This club has been around for 120 years and for that reason it has a fan base across the world and we sell huge amounts of merchandise.
"Our fans don't desert us because we are not playing European football, they are always there rain or shine and that is what makes us a great club and attractive to someone like Warrior in this case."
In the current climate of austerity to secure such a huge new kit deal - current manufacturers adidas claimed Liverpool were asking too high a price - is testament to the pull of the Premier League and Liverpool in particular.
It is also increasingly important to the club with UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules in mind and the Warrior business is a significant boost, following on from the four-year £85million deal with Standard Chartered which began in the summer of 2010.
"Particularly at this time it says a couple of things," added Ayre.
"Over the last couple of years one of the things we have been focused on is producing revenue relevant to the size and power of this club.
"We have a fantastic shirt sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered and this is another step.
"When everyone is focused on financial fair play the importance of solid and quality revenues is even more essential."
UEFA hopes FFP regulations will ultimately mean that clubs will break even as they tailor expenditure to income.
With that in mind Ayre admitted the more big-money deals they could bring in the better off they would be and Warrior's ground-breaking deal was part of that planning.
"It is a huge uplift on where we were in the past," Ayre told Radio Merseyside.
"I would think it is the biggest kit deal in football, certainly in the UK.
"It comes at such an important time when everyone is looking through a microscope at club revenues and making sure you spend what you earn - so the more we earn the better.
"It is part of our overall challenge: we have to generate as much revenue as possible to compete at the highest level.
"Particularly with the introduction of Financial Fair Play these deals are landmark deals and they feed the coffers that help us to be a sustainable football club and that is something we will always be focused on."
The new income will, in some part, benefit manager Kenny Dalglish when it comes to strengthening the playing staff.
But he accepts the team have to do their bit on the pitch to help make such deals possible in the future.
"It helps obviously but the greatest help we can do for ourselves is to make sure we get some success on the pitch and we will try to do that," said the Scot.
"The history and tradition of this football club is a fantastic selling point for us.
"The finances are all well and good - if you don't have any finances it makes it more difficult to be successful - but success on the pitch is the biggest factor.
"It is important just to continue the progress. The better the results the better chance we have of being successful."
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