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Reds second high court case in less than a year

Conquerors of Europe, and soon to be Premier League winners, are being sued for more than £1m in commission they claimed from a past sponsorship kit deal with BetVictor.

Winlink, a sport sponsorship firm, claim the reds owe £1.1m after one of the senior executives introduced club officials to their BetVictor contacts back in 2013. The six-time European Champions revealed the gambling firm as the sponsor for their training kits in July 2016.

In Winlink’s court filing, it says they ‘heavily engaged over a number of years in securing a successful introduction... and in assisting to bring about a sponsorship deal’. Consequently, Winlink believe that was the reason for the reported £15 million, three-year deal between Liverpool and BetVictor materialising.

Following this, the reds insist Rafaella Valentino, Liverpool’s head of global partnership sales, ‘personally negotiated the deal with BetVictor's CEO, her friend Andreas Meinrad’, shortly after she joined the club in late 2015, and Winlink's introduction was not the cause of the deal.

Winlink’s barrister said at a remote High Court trial, which began on the 9th of June, the organisation “spent significant time and effort in building the relationship between Liverpool and BetVictor”. Previously, Winlink have earned commissions from a range of top European sides such as, Arsenal, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Juventus, after securing deals with bookmakers.

Winlink accept that they played no part in negotiating the deal in 2016 but are persistent that they should receive some financial payment for introducing the reds to the Gibraltar-based firm, part of their introduction service. This lead to the deal between Liverpool and BetVictor to be agreed, meeting Winlink’s criteria for commission.

The barrister for Winlink added “Liverpool has not kept its side of the bargain”, despite the club’s BetVictor deal being signed two-and-a-half years later. QC for Liverpool, Robert Anderson said the club’s agreement with Winlink did not give it “the unlimited right to commission on every deal that Liverpool ever does with BetVictor ... regardless of their involvement in it”.

The trial is expected to last until the 12th of June, with the judge expected to reserve his judgement to a later date. This is the second-High Court case the reds have faced in less than a year. When in October 2019, the Merseyside club won a legal battle with current kit supplier New Balance, allowing them to sign a deal with Nike for the 2020/21 season. Insurance firm Axa now sponsor Liverpool’s training kit.

Author: James Parker