Liverpool New Balance Tim Crow

Member Insights: New Balance Vs Liverpool Case ‘To Set A Very Important New Precedent’

October 23, 2019

Liverpool Football Club’s court case against New Balance over the future rights to Liverpool’s replica kit and merchandising could possibly be concluded this week after proceedings ended.

The case hinges on New Balance’s contractual right to ‘match’ Nike’s rival bid for Liverpool’s rights from next season, and in so doing automatically trigger a contract extension. New Balance claims it has matched Nike’s bid whereas Liverpool disagrees. After talks broke down, the two parties agreed to go to the commercial division of London’s High Court for an expedited three-day procedure which ended on Tuesday.

A ruling is possible as soon as Friday, but the judge cautioned that it may be delayed owing to the complexities of the case and the ‘novel points’ raised by both sides.

It became apparent during the proceedings that Liverpool are set on accepting Nike’s offer owing to its promises of superior distribution and integrating top Nike ambassadors from entertainment as well as sport into its marketing of Liverpool. It was also evident that the relationship between Liverpool and New Balance has broken down.

The evidence revealed the opaqueness of both Nike’s and New Balance’s rival claims about their respective worldwide distribution footprints

However, factors that emerged throughout the three days indicate that the judgement could go either way.

From the judge’s comments on the cases made by both parties, there are indications that the precedents cited in previous similar contract disputes outside of sport lean both ways.

In addition, the evidence revealed the opaqueness of both Nike and New Balance’s rival claims about their respective worldwide distribution footprints, and the difficulty of interpreting Nike’s carefully but vaguely worded offer to integrate some of its other ambassadors, which hinted at but did not promise would include Serena Williams, LeBron James and Drake.

Whatever the outcome, it is clear that this case is going to set a very important new precedent in the contract law in this area, which will have the lawyers of every top Premier League club scrutinising every detail of the verdict.

It also seems clear that clubs are going to fiercely resist any attempt by sportswear brands to include matching rights in their contracts from now on.

Liverpool New Balance Tim Crow