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Sunday 25 August 2019

United in Pool's sights

Anfield CEO aims to make more money than rivals

Peter Moore, Liverpool CEO, has a background in gaming with EA Sports
Peter Moore, Liverpool CEO, has a background in gaming with EA Sports

Manchester United may dominate Liverpool when it comes to generating commercial revenue, but the Anfield side's chief executive Peter Moore, using his knowledge of the new-age fan, said that may soon all change.

Liverpool's accounts for the 2017-18 financial year showed a record pre-tax profit for a football club, as turnover increased in the 12 months to May 2018 by £90million to £455m, also a record.

Their run to last year's Champions League final, and the sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona, helped their cause, but data released by Deloitte for the 2017-18 financial year showed Liverpool still sit way off United and Manchester City.

Moore, though, insists the gap is closing and is hoping to use Liverpool's success in the Champions League this year as a springboard to catch up.

"United got ahead years ago, recognising the global appeal of English football," Moore said in the United States on the club's pre-season tour. "We are catching fast, our revenue continues to grow.

"Since winning the Champions League, brands are becoming more interested in Liverpool. We have had EA Sports come on as our global gaming partner, AXA as our official insurance partner, who are now on our training gear, MG as our official automotive partner, 1xBet as our betting partner.

"These have all been finalised in the last few months, meaning we can continue to grow our top-line revenues. We have a portfolio of top-class brands now."

It is nothing new for the big clubs to garner income from a variety of sponsorship deals, with United famed for having commercial partners in everything from car tyres to wine, but it is not all just advertising.

Liverpool-born Moore, having previously spent 10 years as head of EA (Electronic Arts) Sports and before that vice-president of Microsoft's interactive entertainment business, is well positioned to target the modern-day, gaming obsessed fan.

"One of the things I learned in video gaming is something called 'LTV' -- life time value. There has been a shift to free-to-play games, it is no longer about just selling the disc and then saying see you later," he said.

"Now it is about saying 'look it is free, but then go buy these avatars, go buy these skins'. Then, rather than buy one disc at £40 each year, gaming companies were getting £60, £80, £100 per year, gradually...

"Over a period of years, global fans will come to Anfield on occasion, buy shirts, buy programmes, subscribe to LFCTV, you name it. There are a myriad of ways a fan can engage with us."

With the Premier League possessing such a global appeal, top English clubs spend much of their pre-season in far-flung destinations, to bring the match-going experience to their legions of worldwide fans.

However, they will be able to get closer during the regular season through modern technology. "We have embarked on a huge project with IBM to build up all of our network capabilities all so we can engage our fans in a deeper way," Moore added.

"There is a series that we do called 'Inside Anfield', previously unseen footage, in the tunnel, in the dressing room - the spontaneous stuff, rather than the press interviews. Liverpool fans lap it up."

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