NBA superstar LeBron James, of the Miami Heat, has become a minority shareholder in English Premier League team Liverpool FC after his sports marketing firm, LRMR Branding and Marketing, agreed a collaborative deal withFenway Sports Group, the company which owns Liverpool Football Club.
As a side note to the partnership, James will become a minority shareholder in the 18-time English Champions.
While the full details of the partnership have not been released, it is not expected that the two-time MVP winner will have any immediate impact on first team or boardroom affairs at Anfield; rather one side will look to benefit and expand into markets in which the other already has a lion’s share.
The one key area both entities are already huge in is of course the Asian market. Liverpool’s main club sponsor, Standard Chartered, have a big clientele base throughout the continent and will no doubt be pleased at the possibilities opened up by both Liverpool and LeBron James collaborating with each other.
FSG (formerly New England Sports Ventures) has a great track record of globally marketing huge brand names and taking them to another level—something which, again, both sides of the deal will be hoping to benefit from.
The American-based firm only bought the Merseyside club late last year after a long, drawn-out courtroom battle against Texan pair Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
Admittedly, the initial sporting benefits to both sides are not easily apparent. Quite what knowledge James has of Liverpool FC, or perhaps a lot of Liverpool fans about the basketball player and his entire sport, remains to be seen, but clearly this is a commercial venture which both will hope to benefit from in the long term.
After all, both football (soccer) and basketball are undeniably global sports these days, and the two huge brand names between them will be aiming to gain further market share by trading off each others’ fanbase.
The coming months will tell us more about how this joint venture will pan out. As a Liverpool supporter, my hope is for increased revenues for the football club and a wider audience to the game at Anfield, both of which will, in the long term, benefit the club on the pitch through greater spending power.