Liverpool FC has entered a legal dispute with Gibraltar-based bookmaker BetVictor over its £15 million training kit sponsorship.
Winlink, a sports sponsorship agency, has sued the leaders of the Premier League for a reported £ 1.1 million, claiming one of its senior executives had introduced club officials to the bookmaker.
Winlink stressed that it was ‘heavily engaged over a number of years in securing a successful introduction’ – which led BetVictor to agree to a £ 5 million annual sponsorship of the training kits from Liverpool between seasons 2016/17 and 2018/19.
Liverpool replied to the allegations of the agency, saying that their former Head of Global Partnerships, Rafaella Valentino – a relative of BetVictor CEO Andreas Meinrad, initiated the lucrative sponsorship.
The Football Club refutes in its statement that the introduction of Winlink has had any sway over the deal being executed.
High Court hearings began on Monday with Winlink represented by Andrew Sutcliffe QC, who emphasised the credentials of the agency specialising in ‘identifying and introducing betting companies to sport rights holders.’
Pointing to the track record of Winlink, Sutcliffe noted that the agency had successfully introduced Arsenal, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Juventus to bookmakers where the football clubs had paid commissions to secure deals.
He said Winlink had maintained its relationship with Liverpool, arguing that the agency had to fulfil only two conditions in introducing bookmakers to club executives, and that the bookmakers sponsored the club afterwards.
“Liverpool had not kept its side of the bargain,” Sutcliffe told the High Court.
Meanwhile, representative of Liverpool Robert Anderson QC argued that the services provided by Winlink had little impact on the sponsorship taking place.
Liverpool said that two and a half years before negotiating its deal with BetVictor the agency had introduced its executives, and Winlink holds ‘no rights’ to claim compensation regardless of previous introductions.
Judge Mark Pelling QC will hear the trial and it is expected to last five days, with its final judgement reserved until a later date.