Liverpool are considering selling their naming rights for the new Main Stand at Anfield in a bid to finance the £75m renovation cost of the stadium.
In an interview with Liverpool ECHO, Reds commercial chief Billy Hogan claimed that there are 580 million reasons to be excited about the future of Liverpool FC. “Our research tells us we’ve got 580 million fans globally.” Hogan told the ECHO.”That size of fanbase means there’s a tremendous amount of opportunities out there for the business.The feeling within the club is that absolutely we’re heading in the right direction, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
Hogan has permanently moved to London to build on the success his department enjoyed in 2014 which has saw new lucrative sponsorship deals signed with Garuda Indonesia, Subway etc. His primary aim is to strengthen the existing ties and also attract new ones.
“It’s an important step forward for the club and for the commercial department.” said Hogan.”It makes perfect sense for the club to have an office in London. We’ve seen every summer on the pre-season tours what a global club Liverpool Football Club is. We’re targeting early November for the offices to actually open. A handful of staff are in London already and more will be moving down from our Liverpool partnerships team. Having an office in one of the world’s largest financial centres will certainly help us in the next stage of our growth. It will allow our team here to spend time with existing partners when they are in London for events as well as work to bring in new partnerships.”
One of the priorities for Hogan in his new role will be the redevelopment of Anfield.”The new Main Stand is going to be a big focus for all of us. The process is still ongoing. We’re getting closer to certainty but we’re not there yet. When that certainty arrives from a commercial standpoint we’ll be ready to get to work on that.”
“We wouldn’t consider selling naming rights for the stadium as a whole but in terms of the name of the Main Stand that’s something we will look at.We’ll be looking to bring in a number of new partners. A naming partnership for the stand would make sense.”
Hogan previously worked closely on the upgrade of the home of Fenway Park , the home stadium of Boston Red Sox. “The fact that we’ve been through this process at Fenway Park means we’ve hopefully got that experience to take advantage of. If you go back four years to the day when FSG acquired the club this was one of their major issues – where the long-term home for Liverpool would be. Would it be a new stadium in Stanley Park or a redeveloped Anfield?”
“A lot of people looked at what FSG did with Fenway Park. They have that experience of redeveloping a famous old sports stadium. That process was completed very successfully over the past 10 years. There were great commercial opportunities as Fenway Park was improved and that will be the same with Liverpool.”
The middle-tier of the new Main Stand is expected to be completed before the start of the 2016/17 season. “We’ve had a tremendously successful hospitality programme over the past few years but the reality is that we’re currently working in an environment where demand far outstrips supply,” Hogan said.”We’ve got an international fanbase and supporters come from across the world because they want to visit Anfield.”
“We saw that passion this summer during the tour of USA, which was replicated in the Far East and in Australia the previous year.There’s an increase not only in the number of hospitality seats but also in general admission seats. That’s very important as we need both those things.”
Hogan believes that these commercial deals will be more important than ever as UEFA continue to implement the FFP rules. “FSG have always been very supportive of FFP and that means only spending what you can generate.” Hogan said. “We’re focused on operating the business in a responsible way. That’s been the mantra for FSG to get a winning team on the field. We want it to be sustainable.”
“Developing significant revenues from our commercial business is vital to ensuring the club is successful. I wake up every morning focused on generating revenues so that this club can continue to advance. Not only have we brought on board nine new partners so far this year, we’ve also had three significant renewals. That speaks volumes about how we want to operate. We see ourselves as a family club and we want our partners to be part of that family.”
“Success on the field certainly helps but none of the deals we’ve done this year are on the back of the team doing so well last season. Deals can take 12 to 18 months to come together.You can’t sell someone something based on what happened on the pitch last weekend. It says much about the size and strength of our club that businesses want to be associated with Liverpool FC.”
“When you consider where we were four years ago, on the brink of administration, where we are now is testament to the hard work of everyone who has contributed to that progress.The club has advanced so far both on and off the field, and now we’re able to talk about how strong the business is.”
Finally he commented on Liverpool’s plan to expand their network of club stores around the world. “We’re recently opened stores in Kuala Lumpur and Dublin, and our retail and merchandise team have done a terrific job.There’s a strategy with our approach to it and we’ll be looking to open more Liverpool shops around the world in areas where we know there is huge interest in the club.”