Liverpool FC has entered a legal dispute related to its £15 million training kit sponsorship with Gibraltar-based bookmaker BetVictor.
Sports sponsorship agency Winlink has sued the Premier League leaders for a reported £1.1 million, stating that one of its senior executives had introduced club officials to the bookmaker.
Winlink underlined that it was ‘heavily engaged over a number of years in securing a successful introduction’ – which led to BetVictor agreeing a £5 million per year sponsorship of Liverpool’s training kits between seasons 2016/17 and 2018/19.
Liverpool have responded to the agency’s claims, stating that the lucrative sponsorship was conducted by their former Head of Global Partnerships Rafaella Valentino – a friend of BetVictor CEO Andreas Meinrad.
In its statement, the Football Club refutes that Winlink’s introduction had any sway on the deal being executed.
High Court hearings began on Monday, with Winlink represented by Andrew Sutcliffe QC, who highlighted the agency’s credentials specialising in ‘identifying and introducing betting companies to sports rights holders’.
Pointing to Winlink’s track record, Sutcliffe noted that the agency had conducted successful introductions for Arsenal, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Juventus, to bookmakers in which the football clubs had paid commissions having secured deals.
He said that Winlink had kept its relationship with Liverpool, arguing that the agency had to only fulfil two conditions in introducing club executives to bookmakers and that the bookmakers then sponsored the club.
“Liverpool had not kept its side of the bargain,” Sutcliffe told the High Court.
Meanwhile, Liverpool representative Robert Anderson QC argued that Winlink’s services had no influence in the sponsorship taking place.
Liverpool said that the agency had introduced its executives two and a half years prior to negotiating its deal with BetVictor, and Winlink holds ‘no rights’ to claim compensation regardless of previous introductions.
The trial will be heard by Judge Mark Pelling QC and is expected to last five days, with its final judgement reserved to a later date.