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LeBron James looks to cash in on Liverpool FC and FSG’s success

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Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United. The trio of clubs dominate the list of annual shirt sales, with their massive recent success and you would expect the other major players on the European scene to come in next. The likes of Serie A champions AC Milan, perennial contenders Chelsea, Inter (just a year removed from winning the first ever Italian treble), or Bayern Munich would be the likely choice for fourth on that list. But it is none of those clubs, instead a club from a city smaller than all of them, a club that has won 3 trophies in 8 years. Liverpool come in with 900,000 shirt sales, despite the dearth of success in recent years.

But that statistic doesn’t tell the true story. The same study that concluded the above also noted that while Real Madrid lead Liverpool in terms of selling Adidas shirts, Liverpool actually sell more merchandise overall. In any case, the commercial base that Fenway Sports Group will be looking to exploit is massive – and that too with a relative lack of exposure in India, the Far East, and America. Football schools are being set up in India, reaching out to thousands of talented footballers in what will become the world’s most populous country. Advertising is extensive, on TV screens and on billboards throughout South and East Asia, and the team will go on a short tour this summer in the region.

Cracking the American market, however, will be very difficult. American viewers have a luxury of sports to choose from. Ice hockey, baseball, American football, Major League Soccer, lacrosse, IndyCar/Nascar, and wrestling, amongst many other niche sports have produced iconic sportsmen that have brought in millions to the sports industry over the years. Wayne Gretzky, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Favre, Landon Donovan, Dario Franchitti have all forced their way into household vocabulary. Basketball has arguably suffered from not having a true pin-up since Michael Jordan retired. This is where LeBron James comes in.

When the first reports of ‘King’ James acquiring a stake in the Anfield-based club emerged, many profiles of him were done, so a brief overview should suffice. He’s the NBA’s equivalent of Cristiano Ronaldo. Stronger, quicker, better than all the opposition, with an arrogant streak and a lot of flair, he has won close to every individual NBA award possible, and is yet to reach his peak. James made $30million last year from his marketing firm alone. He was the first sportsman, the first black man, and only the third man ever to appear on the cover of Vogue. And it is through fashion that LeBron has done his part for the club, sporting Liverpool FC themed shirts at his post-game conferences.

A source around the club has revealed that James wants to up his share in the club. This is great news for both parties. From Liverpool’s side, James has been named second most marketable sports personality in America. He is worshipped and abused in almost equal quantities, and anything he says is either genuinely controversial or sensationalised into hype and controversy. He provides a gateway to America, where the other big clubs have past players or high profile celebrity fans. Anything he does with the Liverbird on his chest will gain the club more fans, resulting in bigger profits and an explosion in the Liverpool FC brand name.

LeBron James’ aura also extends to Asia though, where he is worshipped after winning a monumental battle against the Chinese legend Yao Ming in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Standard Chartered, Liverpool’s primary sponsors, certainly won’t be complaining, after publically announcing their plans to break into the region. John Henry won’t mind either, considering Standard Chartered give LFC £20million ever year.

LeBron James dominates the world of basketball, on the pitch and off it. Liverpool aren’t doing too badly off the pitch, but let’s see if LeBron James’ influence can help them dominate on the football pitch too.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. NBA FAN

    July 1, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    The only problem with you touting Lebron is the fact that since he moved to the heat last year or as he said … taking his talents to south-beach. Is that he is the most HATED sports icon in america (except by miami fans of course). I dont think him taking interest in LFC will help at all.

    He has proven to be so full of himself that people (World-wide) have grown to dislike him and leaving the small market Cavs to join the heat and most of all how he done it, was the nail in the coffin.

    All that and add the fact that he cant handle the pressure and lead a team to a championship (like micheal jordan could, like pele could like all the greats could). I feel you are touting an immature arrogant child as liverpools gateway to america when being linked with him at this point in his career will only do harm.

    Also the NBA is going into a lock-out and wont be on TV till the negotiations are done which could cancel all of next season. So zero positive exposure for LFC.

  2. lionessaskele

    July 1, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Leave LeBron alone he is doing what a lot of sports men fail to do. He is making sure at the end of the day his finances are secured.

  3. NBA FAN

    July 1, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    NBA Fan posted one of the dumber comments I have seen in my time. I’m not even necessarily a fan of Lebron, but he had the #1 jersey sales in the ENTIRE NBA. he is the #1 reason the NBA just had their greatest season ever, sure a ton of people love to see him fail, but people are captivated by every move that he makes and this NBA finals was one of the most watched Finals in NBA HISTORY? Zero positive exposure? You have to be kidding me or you’ve never traveled to Europe, people are more captivated by his talents there than we probably are in the US.

  4. NBA FAN

    July 2, 2011 at 1:51 AM

    LOL have i ever travelled to Europe hmmm let me look around oh wait i live here!!! Most watched NBA Finals might be down to the fact it had a cinderella story or david versus goliath situation going on and oh wait david won. Europe loves team basketball the fundamentals that the maverick showed in the finals won out over the selfish one on one style of play Lebron and his ilk displayed.

    As a person who is well travelled and has lived both on your side of the atlantic and my own side a.k.a europe LeBron is not someone that sports lovers take to, Look at C.Ronaldo altho he is a gift player his arrogance only makes him liked (not loved) by the supporters of the teams he plays for at the time, but disliked by the majority.

    Yes i can see the talents in both these players as do all true sports fans but i am not going to rush out to buy either of their jerseys and i am sure as hell not going to buy a team jersey to a club i know nothing about just because one of them has worn it or has money invested in it.

    Best bet for liverpool to expained their fan base in the US is to play expo games there and get their new owner J.Henry to use his stake in Boston to further their exposure. This will be taken up by alot of ex-pats living in the greater Mass. area and then build on it from there.

    As for captivated by talents im sorry but DIRK has more talent and more heart in is pinky than that steamer Lebron, bulldozing someone in a one on one is talent in my eyes.

    just in case you think i am im not even a mavs fan, Kings all the way (i know kings and a pool supporter glutton for punishment or what).

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