Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Deal Could Earn Liverpool Football Club Millions In Lost Revenue

Liverpool Football Club has succeeded in its long-held ambition to trademark the Liver bird, the symbol of the city of Liverpool.

Liverpool FC's plan was met with some resistance when the English Premier League (EPL) club announced their intentions some two years ago. And, after talks with Liverpool Council, the club initially agreed to abandon their bid.

Now, however, Liverpool FC have worked a deal with the city council and successfully won a trademark for the famous symbol through the Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union (TMDREU) having applied in January of this year.

Council leader, Joe Anderson, said, “When Liverpool FC first raised the issue of registering the Liver bird logo, it caused a lot of concern that charities and other organizations which used the Liver bird on their literature and promotional material would be unable to do so in the future."

However, instead of limiting legitimate use of the symbol, the new deal between Liverpool Football Club and the city is intended to allow both organizations to crack down on the unlicensed use of the symbol in fake memorabilia, counterfeit shirt sales and other unofficial Liverpool merchandise.

"We are happy to help them in these aims and the agreement we reached means the club can protect its Liver Bird logo, other organizations can continue to use the Liver Bird and the council will be able to protect its design of the image. The Liver Bird belongs to the people of Liverpool and the council is committed to doing all it can to make sure it remains that way," Alderson added.

A spokesperson for Liverpool Football Club said, "Our position was always to solely seek to protect our specific version of the Liver bird to stop its use in counterfeit Liverpool FC merchandise. We never intended to challenge the usage by the council or other charity or community groups of their version of the Liver bird, and were delighted to work with the local authority on this matter.”

The trademark, granted in July, is valid until 2020 and covers a range of products from clothing to key rings with the potential to significantly boost Liverpool's income from licensing and merchandise sales by helping to put an end to a major counterfeit revenue stream.

"Licensing is a very sizeable contribution and it’s one that’s transformed over the last few years," Liverpool FC commercial director Ian Ayre told SportsPro. "We have a team that manages IP protection, trademarks, and they work with a series of individuals and organizations so, yes, we protect it as a football club, but we also work with the Premier League who work on behalf of all Premier League clubs, we work with Uefa who work on behalf of all European clubs, and we work with Adidas who work on behalf of all the people they make kit for. It's a constant battle but it's one we'll always fight, obviously because we want to protect our own revenue but also we want to protect the quality. In some cases it's easy to know the difference between a fake and a real one, but not always, and we don’t want people buying what they believe is quality product and it ends up being counterfeit."

Torres: Why I Love Beating Man United

Fernando Torres claims he is desperate to beat Manchester United on Sunday to repay the fans who support him through thick and thin.

The 26-year-old counts our 4-1 triumph at Old Trafford in 2009 as one of his best days in a Liverpool shirt - and he knows securing three points in Manchester again on Sunday would mean so much to supporters.

"Liverpool fans are great, when you play well they are behind you and when you are not playing the best they are still behind you," Torres said.

"I walk my dogs round the city and before matches like United the fans will tell you good luck and things like that.

"It's clear how much the Manchester United games mean to them, we have been rivals a lot of years. Beating United means everything to them.

"We are the two most successful teams in England but it has not been nice for the Liverpool fans to watch Manchester United have so much success over recent years."

Torres has scored on Liverpool's last two visits to Old Trafford, including a 4-1 win that counts among our greatest ever league results.

"Hardly anybody ever wins at Old Trafford and beating Manchester United 4-1 on their own ground is practically unheard of," said the World Cup winner.

"We went 1-0 down as well which made the victory that much more impressive.

"I scored the equalizer and to this day I think that has to be one of my favourite days wearing the Liverpool shirt.

"We have a great squad and a great manager, and we really hope to give the fans a trophy this season, as well as beating Manchester United for them."

Torres is looking forward to his lunchtime contest with opposite number Wayne Rooney.

"They have some amazing players but Wayne Rooney is their standout player," he said.

"I really like him. He is a great player and a funny guy, so we usually have a little chat at the end of the game.

"Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs have had great starts to the season though, and if they were still in the 20s then I don't think my decision would be quite so easy."

Dalglish Wanted Reds Job

Liverpool icon Kenny Dalglish has admitted he wanted to replace Rafa Benitez at Anfield before the appointment of Roy Hodgson.

Dalglish was player-manager at Anfield between 1985 and 1991 and he was the last man to bring the championship to the club.

The 59-year-old felt the time was right for Benitez to leave and he revealed he put himself forward to replace the Spaniard at the helm.

However, Liverpool rejected Dalglish's overtures and moved instead for former Fulham chief Hodgson to take charge at Anfield and the Scot admits he was disappointed to be overlooked for the job.

Dalglish writing in his new book - 'Dalglish in his own words' - said: "It was right for everybody that Rafa Benitez left - for him and for Liverpool Football Club.

"There just comes a stage in every manager's career when the board says, 'You've been good for the club but we feel it would be best if you go'.

"Sometimes it works the same way for a manager - 'I've done my time. There's no animosity but it's time to have a go somewhere else'.

"When it was clear Rafa was going, Christian Purslow asked me to get involved in the selection process for the next manager.

"I had to let them (the board) know my real views. I wanted the job. I couldn't miss the opportunity.

"One day, I was in a meeting with Christian and the chairman, Martin Broughton, and I formally put my name forward.

"'We don't want you, Kenny', came the reply from Christian and the chairman. Fine. That's their prerogative. They explained they had different plans for me, a position with greater longevity."

Roy Hodgson To Rest Torres And Gerrard For Europa League Tie

Roy Hodgson is reportedly set to rest some of Liverpool's big name stars for their Europa League clash against Steaua Bucharest at Anfield on Thursday.

Even at this early stage of the season, the fixtures are coming thick and fast with Liverpool facing arch-rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

As a result, the Daily Mirror claims that Hodgson will rest some of his big-name players including striker Fernando Torres and skipper Steven Gerrard.

Hodgson hinted as much last week when he said, "It is unfeasible to ask them to play so many games over what is going to be a long campaign, and unrealistic to believe they can sustain it over a whole season."

The Daily Mirror claims that Hodgson is set to give new signing Raul Meireles his full Liverpool debut while Joe Cole is set to play a part. Paul Konchesky should shake off a hamstring injury to play against Steaua at Anfield too

Amoo Brace Tames Wolves

David Amoo struck a clinical double as Liverpool Reserves claimed their first win of the season with a 2-0 success over Wolves on Tuesday night.

The 19-year-old was on hand to finish off two incisive first-half counter attacks and ensure John McMahon's men capped an impressive showing with three richly deserved points.

The Reds had gone into the clash having drawn their opening two encounters of the new Barclays Premier Reserve League Northern Group B campaign but always looked in control against what was a relatively experienced Wolves outfit.

Indeed, the hosts had a real hunger about their play from the off and took the lead with their first attack of the match on two minutes.

A sublime move started with Danny Wilson's clever pass into the feet of Tom Ince. The winger turned well before spreading the ball out to Suso on the left flank. The diminutive Spaniard then showed superb vision to weigh up his options and deliver a perfect low cross into the path of Amoo who made no mistake from eight yards.

The visitors had barely had a chance to adjust to their surroundings when Liverpool piled forward again, with Ince collecting Suso's pass and firing straight at Wayne Hennessey before both Steven Irwin and Jonjo Shelvey saw their follow up efforts blocked by some desperate defending.

The warning signs were there for Wolves and despite the fact it was still early on in the encounter it was no surprise when the Reds doubled their advantage on eight minutes.

Another whirlwind attack ended with Amoo touching home at the second attempt after his initial effort from Irwin's cross was well saved by Hennessey.

McMahon's side were clearly enjoying their first Wirral outing of the new campaign and could have extended their lead further on 15 minutes when Nathan Eccleston saw a devilish cross drop just shy of the far post.

Amoo then burst down the right flank and centred for Eccleston but the forward saw his classy volley on the turn whistle just past the far post with Hennessey rooted to the spot.

It was proving to be a busy first period for the Wales stopper and he had to be at his best to deny Suso's arcing free-kick before beating away Irwin's magnificent volley after Shelvey had picked him out on the edge of the box from the resulting corner.

Liverpool continued to ask all the questions and Amoo could well have had his hat-trick on 38 minutes but he smashed well wide of the near post after Ince's well crafted pass had put him in on the right side of the box.

There was even time for Ince to go close himself, curling just wide of the top corner after a dazzling run left two Wolves defenders in his wake.

The visitors would have been delighted to have gone in at the interval just the two goals behind and there was an immediate improvement in their play following the restart with both Ashley Hemmings and Louis Harris going close.

Liverpool were struggling to recapture the flow that had seen them create chance after chance early on and Peter Gulacsi was finally called into action on the hour mark when he reacted smartly to keep out Nenad Milijas's header.

The opportunity forced the Reds to respond and Suso tested Hennessey's handling with a rasping shot from the left edge of the box before Eccleston was left frustrated by a deflection that denied him a simple tap-in from Irwin's centre.

As the clock ticked down the away side continued to search for a way back into it and they could have set up a barnstorming finish had substitute Geoffrey Mujanji-Bia's 35 yard drive not crashed back off the crossbar.

Ryan Babel Aims To Win Respect Of Liverpool FC Fans

Ryan Babel has pledged to make the most of his opportunities up front this season as he bids to win over the Liverpool fans.

The Dutchman has revealed manager Roy Hodgson wants him to lead the line under his reign with 23-year-old Babel likely to be handed a starting role in tomorrow’s Europa League tie at home to Steaua Bucharest.

Babel has vowed to prove his worth to the new man in charge at Anfield by working hard in training and then seizing his chances on the pitch. The former Ajax man admits he still has many doubters amongst the Liverpool faithful but promises to establish himself as a Kop favourite with consistent performances.

“I aim to be a striker,” he said. “The manager has told me that me that up front is where he wants to use me. That’s positive.

“Now I have to show him in training sessions that I can do the job. If I do that I will get chances to play in that position.

“A lot of people still doubt my quality or whether I’m good enough to play for Liverpool. I hope, finally, with a little bit of help from everyone here, that I can give something back to fans and to the club.

“For me, consistency is the key. I need to start regularly and then play well on a consistent basis. When the boss trusts me by playing me I aim to reward that trust.”

Meireles: The First Interview

Raul Meireles today revealed how his first taste of Anfield left him in awe - and now he can't wait to run out in front of the Kop as a Liverpool player.

The Portuguese midfielder made his Reds debut as a second-half substitute at Birmingham City on Sunday following his transfer from FC Porto last month and is in contention to feature in Thursday's Europa League encounter with Steaua Bucharest.

Meireles harvested a wealth of Champions League experience while at Porto, but he endured a disappointing night on his first visit to Anfield in November 2007 - though it did leave a lasting impression.

He explained to "I played at Anfield with Porto and I lost 4-1 - but I remember the supporters were great. Everybody in Portugal says the Liverpool fans are the best supporters in England.

"I have also played at Chelsea and Manchester United, but I can say the Liverpool fans are the best. Of course, I am excited about playing at Anfield as a Liverpool player.

"I feel very good (to have played at Birmingham), but I was not happy at the end because it wasn't a victory. But the Premier League is fantastic.

"I am looking forward to playing with Gerrard and Torres. Stevie, for me, is one of the best midfielders in the world and Torres is a fantastic striker. I am excited about playing with them."

Meireles's transfer to Liverpool means the dynamic midfielder will play his football outside of Portugal's second-largest city for the first time in his career having turned out for Boavista and Porto.

He admits it was a difficult decision to uproot from his hometown, but the lure of representing the Reds was too difficult to resist - and he is confident he and his family will have no problem adjusting to their new surroundings.

"When I knew the coach wanted me, I could only say yes because Liverpool are a big club and I am excited to play here," said Meireles.

"It was difficult to leave Porto because they are my team.

"Like Gerrard and Carragher, I had only played in my city, for Boavista and FC Porto. But now it is a new adventure for me and I am happy and excited.

"The players here have helped me to understand the coach because my English is not the best. Lucas, Maxi, Pacheco and Aurelio have helped me most because they speak Portuguese.

"I like the city. I've found a house for myself, my wife and my daughter and the city centre is beautiful.

"It reminds me of my town, Porto. People like music here, which I also enjoy and I like the Beatles. I think I am going to be happy in this city.

"My wife is very happy too and my daughter studied at a British school in Porto. I think she understands the language a little bit, so I don't think she will have problems starting school here.

"My wife has been learning about the history of Liverpool since we came here and I have been reading about the story of the club on the internet - but I want to learn the whole history."

Upon arriving at Anfield, Meireles took possession of the No.4 jersey - despite favouring the No.16 shirt for country, while wearing No.3 for Porto last term.

However, there was significance behind the 27-year-old's decision.

He revealed: "I knew the number No.4 once belonged to Sami Hyypia and the supporters liked him because he was a great player for Liverpool. So I have to be great with this number - and I will try to do what I have to do to be great.

"I want to win (trophies) because in Porto I won a lot and I have many titles. But I want to win titles at Liverpool - and we have a chance because we have the players."

Meireles was deployed in a role just off Fernando Torres when he was introduced into the action at St Andrews on Sunday - but he believes he is capable of operating in any of the three central positions in midfield.

"I like the three positions in midfield and I feel comfortable," he said. "As a player I am a team worker, not a star or an individual player.

"My message (to the fans) is I will work a lot to win titles at this club. All the supporters want to win trophies and I want to help this team - and this team can help me."

John Aldridge: Why I Was Always In The Hunt For Goals

Numbers have always been important to John Aldridge. Every one of the 476 career goals that made the former Liverpool striker the most prolific marksman of English football’s post-war era are cherished possessions.

They are dusted off, polished and cross-categorized into a variety of lists and tables that punctuate the pages of Aldridge’s new book ‘Alright Aldo Sound As A Pound’.

All of the stats reinforce the point is that here was a footballer with the supreme talent to score goals in any company, in any environment, no matter how strange or hostile. From the fourth division to the top flight in England, from Spain’s Primera Liga to the World Cup finals, Aldridge delivered for every team he played for.

Today, more than a decade after his retirement as a player, Aldridge enjoys a high media profile, particularly on Merseyside, ensuring his deeds will not be forgotten or overlooked with the passage of time. That’s the fate he suspects has befallen his own goalscoring hero, Roger Hunt.

He thinks so highly of the former England World Cup winner that he sought out the number eight shirt Hunt wore for Liverpool wherever his own football journey took him.

Aldridge said: “Being a striker it was only natural and inevitable that a Liverpool player in the same position would become my favourite. It was Roger Hunt. I simply loved him. His record was unbelievable too, 286 goals in 492 appearances is brilliant. Sadly it is rarely talked about now. He did amazing things for Liverpool and was one of the club’s best ever players.

“He was a World Cup winner but some people don’t seem to even realize that. He was the quiet man of the 1966 national side. The likes of Geoff Hurst, Alan Ball and Bobby Moore seem to get all the attention.

“I eventually met Roger and couldn’t speak highly enough of him. He was a reason why I wanted to wear the number eight.

“People suggested I didn’t want to wear nine at Liverpool because it had been Ian Rush’s number and I wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure that came with it. That was rubbish. I wore number eight whenever I could. I always wanted to be number eight because of Roger Hunt. He was my idol.”

‘The cover of ‘Alright Aldo’ (£14.99 Trinity Mirror Sport Media) invites the reader to accept a lift from Aldridge to the match and listen to him talk about his life in football along the way. By the end you realize that taking a journey with Aldo can be as dangerous as it is exciting. Your mum wouldn’t advise against getting into a car with a man who gets into so many arguments and fights. Your dad might say: “go for it.”

He recounts, in plain language, a succession of disputes, disagreements and brawls over football issues. He recalls the insults traded with other personalities from the game as vividly as the moments of triumph. And there are many of each. Old scores and grievances are raked over, the most painful of which was Liverpool’s decision to sell Aldridge to Real Sociedad in 1989.

Aldridge said: “I’ll never understand Kenny Dalglish’s decision to sell me in 1989. When I signed for Liverpool it was like getting the best Christmas present ever. Taking it away was like a kick in the stomach and I’ll never get over it.

“A lot of people told me since, and I agree, that he was wrong. After I left I went on to score another 220 goals.”

A whole chapter entitled ‘Losing It’ is dedicated to those many moments when Aldridge admits he lost his temper over football.

After a 3-1 defeat for Real Sociedad at Valencia Aldridge recalled: “I was in a bad mood and a team-mate called Dave Villabona was really getting on my nerves. I told him I’d give him a smack if he didn’t shut up. ‘Go on then’, he replied so I hit him in the face. I regretted it straight away because he was a cracking lad and a good friend.”

“I also got into a fight after a Tranmere game at Derby County. Some people were giving me stick in the players lounge and I asked them to step outside. It ended up in a free-for-all with five of them.”

Aldridge admits his behaviour did not change after he moved into management with Tranmere. “After a game against Norwich City, in the tunnel afterwards a 22-man brawl took place. Gary Jones lamped one of their players and it all went off. As a manager I ended up getting involved to. It was mayhem.”

Then there’s the drinking. You doubt that any book by a professional sportsman has included accounts of so many nights out that turned into boozing sessions of an epic scale. The statistical section even includes a list of Aldo’s favourite drinks, in which beer comes only second.

Yet Aldridge was still in fine physical shape, playing and scoring goals at Championship level in his 40th year.

Perhaps it is a mixture of modesty and machismo that keeps Aldridge from revealing as much about the warmer side of his personality, the side I witnessed in his capacity to find time for every young autograph hunter who approached him at the height of his fame.

The Irish take Aldridge as close to their hearts as his fellow Scousers. They know a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and they ensured he won celebrity talent show ‘Charity You’re a Star’ on Irish TV in 2006 without being able to sing a note.

“It was similar to the situation with John Sergeant in Strictly Come Dancing,” Aldridge explained. “He was rubbish and everyone loved him. His dancing was better than my signing, but everyone seemed to like me.”

Aldridge helped to raise around £160,000 for charity and even recorded a version of his unique interpretation of the Johnny Cash song ‘Ring Of Fire’ for a CD. Visiting the children he helped in hospital later, he admitted to being almost in tears.

‘Alright Aldo’ is not the kind of book you can curl up with at bedtime for a long, contemplative read. It’s broken into small, bite-sized nuggets of recollections and opinions, best washed down with a six pack or two of beer. With Aldo, you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth flow.