Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Liverpool Boss Delighted With Coutinho

Brendan Rodgers has piled on the praise to January signing Philippe Coutinho saying that he would pay to watch him after a series of superb performances during pre-season.

Coutinho scored and made one in the Reds final tour game in Asia as they defeated Bangkok 3-0 in Thailand to which Rodgers was delighted.

He is quoted in the Daily Star saying of the 21-year-old, “Coutinho had me up off my seat. He’s a player you would pay money to watch because he’s just a delight on the ball.

“He’s a real find for us, in terms of the price we have paid, and hopefully his value will be much greater than the cost in the coming years.”

There were questions raised that being slight and just 5ft 6in tall that he would not be able to cope with the physicality of the Premier League, but the Northern Irishman does not believe that is a problem.

“Don’t worry, he can look after himself – you can see he can use his body if needs be,” he said.

“Of course, he has to become adapted to the physical game here because it is very physical, but you can see already he has genuine man-strength.

“That strength will grow even more, the longer he is in the country and gets physically that bit stronger and gets up with the tempo.”

Liverpool returned home yesterday after a tour of Indonesia, Australia and Thailand that proved to be an unqualified success both on and off the pitch.

Rodgers was delighted with the work-rate and effort of his players ahead of their Premier League opener at home to Stoke on August 17.

Arsenal Not Prepared To Raise Suarez Bid

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is prepared to wait to discover whether the club's £40m bid for Liverpool's Luis Suarez allows the striker to leave Anfield this summer, rather than making an improved bid, according to the Mirror.

The Gunners have made the Uruguay international their number one transfer target after he revealed his desire to leave Liverpool earlier this summer.

And after having a £35m bid rejected, the north London outfit submitted a second £40m plus £1 offer, in the belief that they would trigger a clause in his contract.

However, Liverpool refute that any clause exists in Suarez's contract, and subsequently rejected the bid while refusing the prolific striker to discuss terms over a potential transfer to the Emirates Stadium.

The Mirror claim that Suarez still hopes for Real Madrid to make an offer for his services - although this seems somewhat unlikely given their relentless pursuit of Tottenham star Gareth Bale, who could break the world record transfer fee if sold this summer.

Suarez, though, would still settle on a move to the Gunners if an offer from the Spanish capital doesn't arrive.

Cavani Tells Liverpool To Let Suarez Leave

Edinson Cavani has told Liverpool to let Luis Suarez leave so he can realize his full potential at a Champions League club.

Suarez is eager to seal a move away from the Anfield club with Arsenal leading the chase.

However, Arsenal has had two bids of £35m and £40m rejected as Liverpool desperately try to cling on to their star striker.

Brendan Rodgers claimed that neither offer came close to matching his evaluation for the striker - he and the club reportedly want over £50m.

Their reluctance to sell has prompted Suarez's international team mate Cavani to speak up on behalf of the controversial star.

Cavani, who recently moved to PSG in a record-breaking £55m deal, told reporters that Suarez is unsure Liverpool have signed the right players to break in to the top four.

He said: "We have been speaking a lot and, while I can’t tell you everything, I can tell you that he is desperate to start playing Champions League football.

"Liverpool already know that, though, because he has told them."

He then told Liverpool that they should understand why Suarez wants to leave and should let him move on.

"I think if he thought Liverpool would qualify for Champions League football next season he would stay," he said. "But with the other top teams in England adding players, he doesn’t think Liverpool have the resources to break into the Champions League spots.

"I have said before one of the most complete strikers in the world needs to be playing at the top level and I hope Liverpool understand that.

"He doesn’t want to leave on bad terms because he respects the club and fans, but he needs to achieve his dreams in the game."

Benfica Star Close To Completing Liverpool Switch

Lorenzo Melgarejo will travel to Liverpool on Wednesday to undergo a medical and complete his season-long loan move from Benfica - as talkSPORT revealed.

The full-back is expected to provide competition for Jose Enrique as Brendan Rodgers looks to improve his squad in a bid to make the Champions League spots.

And the 22-year-old will travel to Merseyside to complete the formalities of the deal before putting pen to paper.

There is also likely to be an option to buy Melgarejo at the end of the loan deal, with a fee of £7.8m mooted.

Bolton Still Trying To Pry Spearing

Bolton is still trying to sign Liverpool's Jay Spearing, manager Dougie Freedman has revealed.

The midfielder made 39 appearances in all competitions during a loan spell at the Reebok Stadium last season after finding his first-team opportunities at Anfield limited.

Freedman admitted earlier in July that a deal was unlikely to be concluded as Bolton could not match Liverpool's valuation of the 24-year-old and, while he concedes that negotiations are not going well, the former Crystal Palace boss remains keen to sign Spearing on a permanent basis.

"Jay Spearing is the kind of player I love," he said at a fans' forum event on Monday.

"At the moment, the asking price is too high but we're still trying to do a deal."

Freedman is keen to bolster his ranks ahead of the new Championship season after just missing out on the play-offs with a seventh-place finish last term.

He has already signed the likes of Jermaine Beckford and Alex Baptiste - from Leicester City and Blackpool, respectively - during the transfer window.

John Barnes Complains About Pepe Reina

Liverpool legend John Barnes has aired his grievances about Pepe Reina's Anfield departure, and he feels that the goalkeeper - and not the club - is in the wrong.

It recently became known that the Spaniard wanted a move to Barcelona. But when that didn't come to fruition, he was loaned out to Napoli, following Simon Mignolet's £9m Liverpool arrival.

And now Reina has claimed that this loan move was organized behind his back and that he had no choice over his move to be reunited with Rafa Benitez in Italy.

Yet the former England International believes that the route of this problem comes from the fact that the keeper has lost his desire to represent Brendan Rodgers' side.

Speaking on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show, Barnes lamented Reina's attitude: "You should want to play for Liverpool and nobody else, or you should go. You can't dictate which clubs come in for you.

"It was made clear to him that he wasn't going to be the number one and now that the Barcelona move didn't come about, he's spitting his dummy out."

This loan move to Napoli may only be temporary, but Pepe Reina's Liverpool exit may well be a permanent one.

Liverpool Use Social Media To Target Asian Fans

Commercial success has become an integral factor of success since the rapid growth of the financial sector in the footballing world.

Those Premier League teams that have capitalized by increasing their global brands at any opportunity have reaped the rewards.

The most successful example is Manchester United, who is the second-strongest footballing brand globally worth £535 million.

Liverpool is another club currently attempting to expand their commercial value as their brand is worth only £239 million.

The club is trying to emulate their rivals, who have at least 17 different sponsors in specific regions or countries.

Liverpool has targeted sponsorship deals in Asia and Australia whilst on their pre-season tour in the area. The squad recently played in front of a sold-out Melbourne Cricket Ground packed with 95,000 fans recently - the largest crowd the club has played in front of for 122 years. This proves that despite their recent on-the-field gloom, the club still has a strong fan base internationally.

Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre told The Australian Financial Review the club has at least 15 commercial staff who will stay in Asia after the players return to England on Sunday after a match in Thailand.

The Merseyside club is trying to make up lost ground after failing to capitalize on the growth overseas like their rivals United. The club's revenues do not even compare to others continually competing for the domestic and international honours each season.

Liverpool's revenue has obviously expanded since the days of their dominance in the 70's and 80's but this has primarily been due to the expansion of media contracts within kit sponsorships and lucrative television rights deals from ESPN and Sky Sports.

Since Ian Ayre's recruitment in 2007, Liverpool's financial results have improved as the club benefits from the remarkable transformation in its commercial fortunes. After the acquisition of new American owners in the face of Fenway Sports Group the Reds also remain largely debt free.

Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered extended their £19.6m shirts sponsorship deal with Liverpool during the recent Asia tour and the club hopes a social media buzz would help them attract more country-specific sponsorship deals in Asia like their 2011 tie-up with Honda Motorcycle in Thailand.

Improved income from commercial sponsorships, despite a global recession and the lack of Champions League action, helped Liverpool raise revenues, even as they recorded a £40.5 million loss and raised debts to £87.2 million in their last accounts from August 1, 2011 to May 31, 2012.

The Reds have expanded exponentially within the social networking market in the past year. Engaging with their broad global support base via social media channels has become an increasingly essential way for the Merseyside club to attract new sponsors in emerging markets and convince the existing ones to stay on board during their transitional period on the field.

The club has made strides by introducing hordes of country specific websites and social networking accounts on behalf of the club. They recently launched an Indonesian language website in May and a Thai language website in June ahead of their summer tour in an attempt to target the four billion strong Asian consumer market.

"We made a conscious effort to boost our social media presence about 18 months ago," managing director Ian Ayre told Reuters in an interview.

"We took the view that the real relationship with a fan is having true engagement. You can have millions of fans as you want, but if you're not communicating with them, how are you really establishing that relationship?"

Ayre says Liverpool’s turnover will reach about £200 million this year, a number that could be significantly boosted by qualifying for the lucrative European Champions League, which is worth £30 million to £40 million income a year.

The club posted a £40 million loss in the 2012 financial year, but Ayre says the result can be influenced by transfers of players. Rivals Arsenal, for example, this week lodged a £40 million plus £1 bid for their Uruguayan star Luis Suarez.

Liverpool placed tenth on the Deloitte Football Report in terms of revenue, but each of the nine clubs above them – led by Real Madrid with annual turnover of €512 million ($730 million) – play in the Champions League.

Bar exile from the Champions League football the major significant reason that has been cited as Liverpool's downfall is Anfield's capacity. Their home stadium holds only 45,000 fans on a match day whereas Old Trafford can seat 75,000. The Emirates stadium 60,000 and Manchester City have revealed proposed plans to increase the Etihad stadium's capacity to 60,000.

This therefore represents a massive weekly loss on the club's income in comparison to their rivals. The club has suffered as a result of repeated delays in their effort to move to pastures new.

In 2013, it was confirmed that rather than move to a new stadium Liverpool would opt to stay at their current home and increase it's possible capacity with expansive redevelopment to the Main Stand and the Anfield Road end.

Ayre said: “We know we have a massive following for general tickets, there are 30,000 on the waiting list for season tickets, but you have to get the economic modelling right because we are not just doing this to let more people in, we are doing this to generate more revenue to invest in the team.”

Speaking to Liverpool Echo in March: “Turnover if taken over 12 months, would show a reasonably healthy increase.

“The unaudited turnover which we shared with Deloitte for their publication this year £188.7m - an increase on last year’s £183.6m. So we are growing – we continue to grow." insisted Ayre.

“Our commercial revenues continue to grow and I think that is the key message.

“There is still a lot of work to do to restructure, particularly the football and I think everyone is aware of that.

“But that said our business is growing year on year. These accounts represent a year when we didn’t play European football. But we still grew our revenues."

LFC Launch Inspiring Schools Program

The Liverpool FC Foundation and Little League Sports have launched a new partnership to deliver a unique primary school development program to inspire children to learn new skills across a broad range of sports.

The new program - called 'Liverpool FC Foundation Skills and Drills' - will begin in September 2013 and has been created to give children the opportunity to access first-class coaching within primary schools throughout Liverpool.

To launch the program a special event was held at the Boot Room Sports Café at Anfield with more than 80 teachers, parents and kids in attendance and keen to learn more about the new initiative.

Mark Haig, the Liverpool FC Foundation's head of operations, said: "We are delighted to launch this innovative and exciting new schools program.

"Our Foundation is dedicated to working in schools to help build confidence and give aspirations to children in our city.

"This new partnership will give us the opportunity to work in even more schools and inspire more children - which we are very proud about."

One school supporting the scheme is St Paul's Catholic Junior School in West Derby.

Schoolteacher Paul Garrity said: "Tonight has been great to learn more about the Liverpool FC Foundation and the new 'Skills and Drills' program.

"The LFC badge has the power to inspire kids in our community so combining that with some top-class coaching and delivering it in a school setting can only be fantastic help for our kids."

Little League Sports has been successfully operating in dozens of local primary schools since 2008.

Little League Sports director, Jordan Wright, said: "This collaboration with Liverpool FC gives us a chance to expand our unique delivery in primary schools and give more sporting opportunities to children in our community.

"The Liverpool FC Foundation has many fantastic programs and we are very excited to a part of it."

LFC Announce CRC Sports Partnership

Iago Aspas, Robbie Fowler and Glen Johnson were on hand to launch a retail partnership agreement between Liverpool Football Club and CRC Sports.

The Reds' new partner is Thailand's number one sports retailer and brands distribution company - and now, as a result of the agreement, CRC Sports are the first official LFC sport-casual fashion partner in the country.

Under the agreement, signed at the Bangkok Convention Centre at the Centara Grand Hotel, CRC Sports have become the licensee of official LFC merchandise.

Official outlets will be opened in Supersports stores, which will offer products developed and priced exclusively for the Thai market, as well as housing the club's Warrior kit and training products.

The agreement will also see CRC Sports open official LFC outlets in Vietnam in the latter stages of 2013.

Liverpool FC's chief commercial officer, Billy Hogan, said: "We are thrilled that we have been able to open these outlets with CRC Sports, offering product specifically developed for our extensive fan base here on their own doorstep.

"We are committed to bringing the club closer to Thai fans - so far this year we have launched a dedicated website and Twitter feed for our fans in the country as well as bringing the team out to play in Thailand this week".

According to a recent independent REPUCOM survey conducted for the Barclays Premier League, the Reds have more than 26 million followers in Thailand.

Liverpool will be joining CRC Sports' portfolio of international brands such as New Balance, Crocs and Umbro. In addition, Warrior Sports, the official LFC kit supplier, is also one of the exclusive partners of CRC Sports.

CRC Sports' vice president of distribution and licensee department, Khun Warodom Pranboonplook, said: "It is with great pleasure that we can welcome Liverpool FC, one of the world's most admired teams with a huge fan base here in Thailand, into our international retail portfolio.

"We will be offering various Liverpool products, such as scarves, polo shirts, T-shirts, key-chains, and so on. Customers will be able to locate Liverpool products at LFC Corner in Supersports, Sport Mall, as well as other stores across the country.

"We plan to promote LFC products through various key football mass mediums, together with the heavy use of online and social media. We will also be promoting through our own website, www.supersports.co.th, and will be looking to link into the Liverpool FC fan club websites as well."