NEW YORK (Reuters) - Manchester United may dominate Liverpool when it comes to generating commercial revenue, but the Anfield side’s chief executive Peter Moore, using his knowledge of the new-age fan, told Reuters that may soon all change.
Liverpool’s accounts for the 2017-18 financial year showed a record pre-tax profit for a football club, as turnover increased in the 12 months to May 2018 by 90 million pounds to 455 million, also a record.
Their run to last year’s Champions League final, and the sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona, helped their cause, but data released by Deloitte for the 2017-18 financial year showed Liverpool still sit way off United and Manchester City.
Moore, though, insists the gap is closing and is hoping to use Liverpool’s success in the Champions League this year as a springboard to catch up.
“United got ahead years ago, recognising the global appeal of English football,” Moore said in the United States on the club’s pre-season tour. “We are catching fast, our revenue continues to grow.
“Since winning the Champions League, brands are becoming more interested in Liverpool. We have had EA Sports come on as our global gaming partner, AXA as our official insurance partner, who are now on our training gear, MG as our official automotive partner, 1xBet as our betting partner.
“These have all been finalised in the last few months, meaning we can continue to grow our top-line revenues. We have a portfolio of top class brands now.”
It is nothing new for the big clubs to garner income from a variety of sponsorship deals, with United famed for having commercial partners in everything from car tyres to wine, but it is not all just advertising.
Liverpool-born Moore, having previously spent 10 years as head of EA (Electronic Arts) Sports and before that vice-president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business, is well positioned to target the modern-day, gaming obsessed fan.
“There are many similarities between a global company and a football club these days, especially one that has hundreds of millions of people that interact with it,” Moore added.
“One of the things I learned in video gaming is something called ‘LTV’ — life time value. There has been a shift to free-to-play games, it is no longer about just selling the disc and then saying see you later.
“Now it is about saying ‘look it is free, but then go buy these avatars, go buy these skins’. Then, rather than buy one disc at 40 pounds each year, gaming companies were getting 60, 80, 100 pounds per year, gradually...
“Over a period of years, global fans will come to Anfield on occasion, buy shirts, buy programmes, subscribe to LFCTV, you name it. There are a myriad of ways a fan can engage with us.”
With the Premier League possessing such a global appeal, top English clubs spend much of their pre-season in far-flung destinations, to bring the match-going experience to their legions of worldwide fans.
United spent their close season in Australia, Singapore and China, Chelsea in Japan, Tottenham Hotspur in China, and Arsenal and Liverpool in the U.S.
Around 107,127 fans packed stadiums to watch three of Liverpool’s friendlies, though they will be able to get closer during the regular season through modern technology.
“We have embarked on a huge project with IBM to build up all of our network capabilities all so we can engage our fans in a deeper way,” Moore added.
“There is a series that we do called ‘Inside Anfield’, previously unseen footage, in the tunnel, in the dressing room - the spontaneous stuff, rather than the press interviews. Liverpool fans lap it up.”
On the pitch, Liverpool played the patient approach, waiting one year after failing in their first attempt to sign Virgil van Dijk, for example. The Dutch defender was instrumental in last season’s Champions League success.
Moore insists his similar approach will ensure that re-investment in the squad will continue for years to come.
“We are well positioned to keep bringing success on the pitch as well as off it,” he said. “We now have a much bigger operation, with a headquarters in London.
“That allows us to get more commercial partners and drives more revenue and then buy better players. This is the virtuous cycle of global football.”
Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Christian Radnedge